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White Smoke: A Novel of Papal Election
     

White Smoke: A Novel of Papal Election

5.0 4
by Andrew M. Greeley
 

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The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church have gathered in Rome for the papal election following the death of the incumbent pope. Torn by internal conflict and with many of its members alienated, the Church faces one of the most serious crises in its history. A coalition of cardinals favors a more moderate and pluralistic style of papal governance, but must

Overview

The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church have gathered in Rome for the papal election following the death of the incumbent pope. Torn by internal conflict and with many of its members alienated, the Church faces one of the most serious crises in its history. A coalition of cardinals favors a more moderate and pluralistic style of papal governance, but must contend with shadowy Vatican forces that oppose change and loss of their own power. These forces are determined to destory the coalition's candidate, a gentle and brilliant Spanish scholar. The leader of the coalition is Chicago's wily Sean Cardinal Cronin, aided by his patently indispensable sidekick, Bishop John Blackwood "Blackie" Ryan.

A lone assassin stalks the Vatican, his crazed mission: to destroy the next pope as soon as the traditional white smoke issues from the cardinals' meeting room--the Sistine Chapel--followed by the ancient words Habemus papam.

Can politics--Chicago style--turn the Catholic Church around? What will happen when the next pope must be chosen? Only Andrew M. Greeley, priest, bestselling novelist, and respected sociologist could have written this blockbuster tale of the forces actually ripping the Church apart, and of the next papal election, when the fate of the entire Catholic Church itself may well hang in the balance.



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Editorial Reviews

Kathleen Hughes
In this latest novel by the prolific writer-priest, mystery and intrigue and politics engulf the Catholic Church as the cardinals gather in Rome to elect a successor to the recently deceased pope. The cardinals are split into two factions, one favoring a moderate papal governance (headed by a machine-politicking cardinal from Chicago), the other composed of old-guard cardinals opposed to any change or loss of their own power. The plot thickens as the election draws near and the two sides increase their campaigning. When Dennis Molloy, a "New York Times" reporter (and close personal friend of the Chicago cardinal) uncovers a Vatican banking scandal, the corrupt, shadowy forces lurking in the Vatican do their best to silence him. In addition to all this, a crazed assassin plans to eliminate the next pope as soon as he is elected. Fans of Greeley will appreciate this clever and entertaining work.
Kirkus Reviews
The pomp, circumstance, and ungodly intrigue attendant on the election of a new Pope provide a dramatic setting for this diverting, albeit message-laden, fiction from the prolific Father Greeley (Angel Light, 1995, etc.),

It's the near future, and the incumbent Holy Father has gone to his heavenly reward, bringing a flock of cardinals to the Eternal City to choose a successor. Among them is Chicago's Sean, Cardinal Cronin, an influential hierarch who's convinced the Church needs a more liberal, less authoritarian prelate than the late pontiff. While he lobbies fellow electors on behalf of Luis, Cardinal Mendoza of Valencia, his crafty aide Auxiliary Bishop John Blackwood (Blackie) Ryan works the press. Among those Bishop Blackie recruits for the cause are New York Times reporter Dennis (Dinny) Molloy and his estranged wife, Patricia McLaughlin, a gorgeous redhead who is a star correspondent for CNN. But before the progressives can get their man into the Vatican, they must do battle with reactionary forces who will stop at nothing to preserve the status quo. In the meantime, Dinny (whom worldly-wise clerics have prodded along the path toward reconciliation with Patty) is investigating the possibility that an Italian wheeler-dealer may have lost millions out of the Apostolic See's patrimony. Despite the scandal uncovered by Dinny; constant controversy in the media, and ecclesiastic conclaves over sensitive issues (birth control, celibacy, the ordination of women, etc.); a kidnapping; unchristian conduct; and a host of other obstacles, white smoke finally issues from the chimney of the Sistine Chapel, signaling a new papacy and, perhaps, a turning point in Church history.

Greeley doesn't shrink from using his narrative gifts to promote putatively greater goods, but the agreeable confection here is the easier to swallow for its leavening of cynical, secular takes on the doctrinal and political realities obtaining in one of the world's great religions.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312871185
Publisher:
Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
04/15/1997
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
298,897
File size:
624 KB

Read an Excerpt

White Smoke

A Novel About The Next Papal Conclave


By Andrew M. Greeley

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 1996 Andrew M. Greeley Enterprises, Ltd.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-312-87118-5


CHAPTER 1

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Church at a Turning Point?

News Analysis


By Dennis Michael Mulloy

After a long, momentous, and controversial papal administration, the cardinals who will gather in Rome next week will find themselves at a turning point in the troubled and problematic history of the Catholic Church. Should they strive to recapture the enthusiasm for change which marked the years of the Second Vatican Council and the pontificate of Pope John XXIII? Or should they continue the attempts at stern and uncompromising legalism which have marked the last two papacies? Or should they try to compromise somehow between the two styles of governance?

Already a powerful, worldwide alliance of Catholic business leaders calling itself Save Our Church is gathering in Rome to use its wealth and power to influence the outcome of the election. Its organizer, American industrialist Timothy Ignatius ("Ty") Williams, was candid with The New York Times about its goals. "We don't intend to let liberal cardinals like Cronin turn the Church over to socialists, sodomites and secularists." The combination of Mr. Williams' organization and the right-wing Corpus Christi Institute will bring vast financial resources to bear on the outcome of the conclave.

Sean Cardinal Cronin of Chicago was unavailable for comment, but a close associate said, "As I remember his previous ventures into politics, Ty couldn't lead a pack of hungry vampires to a blood bank."

Cardinals tend to be conservative men, though occasionally the Vatican does make a mistake: No one claims papal infallibility applies to such appointments. The electors will be very nervous about any appearance of abrupt change in the Church. On the other hand, they cannot be unaware of the restlessness and dissatisfaction not only among the Catholic laity but among many if not most of the Catholic clergy. They may wonder if the attempts of the last couple of decades to restore unity to the Church have been counterproductive. The most perceptive of them know that many millions of Catholics feel alienated from the Church. The wise may feel that if there is not a drastic change, tens of millions more may be lost, if not to the Catholic heritage, then at least to the institutional Church.

A few of them may even know the wisdom expressed in Giuseppe Di Lampedusa's novel The Leopard (Il Gattopardo), namely: We must change in order to remain the same.

The outcome of the age-old and dramatic ritual of the papal conclave, which will end with the traditional white smoke announcing a new pope, is likely to have a powerful impact on Catholicism for decades to come. For weal or woe.

CHAPTER 2

Dinny

"Mulloy, you stupid son of a bitch," my editor had exploded in exasperation. "This is the story of the century! How often does the Catholic Church elect a new pope, a couple of times every hundred years?"

He had waved my analysis from the morning's paper at me.

"Eight or nine, anyway," I had said. "No big deal."

As I recalled the conversation yesterday in New York, the Alitalia jet was vectoring over Rome. I caught a brief glimpse of the sun-baked Tiber and the glittering dome of St. Peter's.

"There are a billion Catholics in the world. This may be the most important election in the history of the papacy. The future of the Catholic Church will depend on the outcome. For the next two weeks the eyes of the whole human race will be on Rome. Every important journalist in the world will be there. And you want to sit here in New York and feel sorry for yourself."

Low blow, that last line. Not like him or like the paper.

I had thought that CNN would probably send its ace Catholic anchorperson to Rome. All the more reason for not going.

"They claim that every time there's a conclave," I had responded. "Like I say, no big deal."

I knew I had lost the argument. The personal jab meant he was seriously impatient with me. I had better pack.

I admit that I felt a catch in my throat at the sight of St. Peter's. Actually, this was a very big deal. The oldest human institution in the world was about to roll the dice again on its future in an ancient and solemn ritual. Or, if one wishes, an archaic and stupid ritual (words I had cut from my brief and last-minute "analysis" piece because I knew they'd never get by the boss).

My editor was wrong about one thing, however. The Church of Rome, for all its enormous faults, had survived a couple of hundred appearances of white smoke. Its future was not in jeopardy.

Well, it had survived so far. Now, however, it was split wide open, with the late pope and the bishops seemingly on one side and most of the laypeople and the priests of the world on the other side.

Maybe this conclave was indeed a very big deal.

Despite myself and despite the damage that air travel does to my organism, my heart was beating faster. Maybe, like my editor had said, this would be the most exciting story I had ever covered.

"Even more than Rwanda?" I had demanded.

"Absolutely!"

"No way," I had replied as I listlessly rose from my chair. "Nothing more than the Democratic convention. Or maybe even the Republican convention."

"Dinny!" he had shouted at me. "Cut the bullshit! You're dying to go!"

"All right, I'll go home and pack."

The Alitalia pilot came on the plane's PA system.

"Because of the gathering for the papal election," he said solemnly, "security will be especially tight at the Leonardo da Vinci airport this morning. There may be some delays in clearing immigration and customs."

Why the special security?

Hell, they'd already tried to assassinate one pope. Why not a new one?

I glanced out the window. Not a speck of cloud in the sky. Yet there was a storm gathering. My heart began to pound, just like it always did when I'm getting involved in an important and dangerous story.

A very big deal, indeed, so much so that I felt stirrings of enthusiasm—until the plane taxied into the jetway and I had to shove myself into a standing position. Then the full weight of motion sickness, jet lag, and dehydration hit me.

All I wanted to do was find a bed somewhere and sleep for a couple of days. I wanted a drink too, but that was no longer a possibility in my life.

There were rumors that this time the white smoke might be a prelude to the announcement of the election of the first American pope. Our own paper had mentioned Chicago's Sean Cardinal Cronin as a possibility. Judging by his picture, he looked like a pope ought to look—a handsome, faintly dissipated, early Renaissance pope, with the political moves of the South Side Irish, like the various mayors Daley.

"Good morning, Mr. Mulloy." A pretty child, clipboard in her left hand, extended her right hand to me as I staggered into the international concourse. "Welcome to the Leonardo da Vinci airport at Fiumicino. Welcome also to Rome. Welcome finally to the pope's funeral mass tomorrow. I am from the Rome bureau and have been assigned to assist you in your coverage of the papal election. I am Paola Elizabetta Maria Angelica Katarina Brigitta Oriani. You may call me Paoli."

She pronounced the name as though it were Pa-OW-li. A cute kid, very cute, as a matter of fact. Even cuter because she was so solemn and serious. And maybe a little shy in the presence of the silver-haired Pulitzer prize winner. Only a few years older than my daughter.

I struggled to respond with my very best genial, shanty-Irish grin.

"Not 'Signorina'?" I said, shaking hands with her, my grip a lot firmer than my character.

She was wearing a businesslike blue suit, with white at the neck and the cuffs, a skirt just below mid-thigh, a gold cross at her neck, gold studs, but no other jewelry. There was but a slight hint of makeup on her lips and she wore sensible pumps. Her scent was discreet and expensive. Successful Roman businessperson with a face from Fra Angelico framed by a halo of tight black curls. She tilted her chin up and favored me with a slight hint of a smile.

"Only if you wish to be very formal."

"They told you at the bureau that I was a very formal person, didn't they?"

"They told me that you were very funny, do not engage in sexual harassment, do not drink anymore, are kind of cute in an elderly way, and write like an angel.... now, if you follow me we will take you through customs."

An accurate-enough description of Dennis Michael Mulloy. Well, no, maybe a little too favorable.

She lifted my garment bag from the floor of the international concourse, where I had dropped it in bemused confusion. I wrestled it away from her.

"I'll take that. It has secret documents in it. Could launch a world war. You can carry my notebook-computer bag. If you lose it we will sacrifice you in the Tiber to ancient Etruscan deities."

"My family is Etruscan.... this way please."

I followed her dutifully.

"This is really a huge, big deal, isn't it?" I said, changing the subject.

"The conclave? But naturally. Power is at stake, very large power, spiritual and temporal both. The careers of many people can be affected and the hopes of millions might be renewed or destroyed completely. Even someone like me who knows the Vatican all too well becomes excited."

How did she know the Vatican "all too well"?

"Power corrupts," I observed pontifically.

"And absolute power corrupts absolutely. Lord Acton was speaking of the papacy."

"Of course," I said, pretending that I had known that all along.

The concourse was teeming with people who looked like they might be conclave bound—TV crews carrying their minicams, reporters of every skin color under heaven (I can always spot a fellow reporter; the hang-dog, faintly paranoid expression is a dead giveaway, even among the women), clergy in assorted costumes, from the black suit and Roman collar to flowing Asian robes and towering hats. A couple of the Roman collar boys were wearing red socks or displayed red trim at the collar—cardinal electors, obviously.

With typical New York anticlericalism, I figured that the delegates to the Democratic convention on the whole would inspire more confidence.

I searched a crowd looking for possible assassins. I discovered only apparently rich Americans, come, possibly, to throw their weight and money into the conclave cauldron.

Everyone was deadly intense. A humongous, big deal. The tension isn't electric, I told myself, it's just your Brooklyn, Irish Catholic roots.

But the atmosphere was indeed tense. Rome and the Catholic Church, I would discover later, could do that to you.

My girl guide wove her way through the crowd like Barry Sanders ran through behemoth tacklers of the Giants. I struggled to keep up with her. Upon due consideration, Paola Elizabetta Maria Angelica Katarina Brigitta was more than just a cute child. She was a very lovely young woman, a diminutive china doll with deep brown eyes, a finely carved oval face, mobile lips kept in control as she bantered with me only by great restraint, a generous body, and, judging by my present view from behind, nice legs and a flawless rear end.

I had given up sex along with drink, so my libido didn't react during this evaluation. But if it had been operative it would have found her delectable, just as would the libidos of other dirty old men when they glanced at my daughter.

"Who's going to win the conclave?" I asked my pretty guardian angel.

"Naturally, Don Luis will win," she said with the serene confidence of the young.

"Menendez? He's the liberal Spaniard, isn't he?"

"He is a good man," she insisted firmly. "Many bad men will try to defeat him. Like those foolish Americans who could not find their way to a blood bank. But he will still win."

"I hear there's opposition building up to him. Does he have the votes?"

You live with a woman from Chicago for fifteen years, you learn to ask Chicago questions.

"Gesù and the Madonna will see that he wins."

That settles that.

"Can I interview him?"

"Until now he does not give interviews—even to The New York Times."

That's no way to win an election.

My angel and I, having successfully run for daylight, approached an immigration gate that was apparently closed.

"Your passport, please," she said.

"Uh, it's here someplace." I searched in my jacket pockets, my trouser pockets, the pocket on my garment bag, and then my jacket pocket again.

"Is this it?" Paoli had retrieved it from the pocket on the outside of my computer bag.

"Yeah.... I guess I'm confused from the flight. Sorry."

I had learned always to apologize to women, even when I had done nothing wrong.

"No problem." My guide smiled benignly. "Naturally it is permitted that you be confused."

Her English was quite good. Syntax and vocabulary practically perfect and accent better than a lot you could hear in New York City from native-born Americans. However, her speech was formal and stiff, as though she wanted to be sure that she had chosen exactly the right word.

She gave my passport to a beaming young inspector who had materialized from nowhere. He stamped it with an elegant flourish and bowed to her and to me. The two of them exchanged what sounded like compliments in Italian.

The kid had clout.

"You have clout."

She dismissed it with a wave of her hand, which I would learn meant "It is nothing."

"You have more luggage?"

"Nope. Travel light. Presumably there are stores in Rome where I can buy clothes if I need them."

She considered my rumpled off-the-rack gray suit, and replied, "The most fashionable men's clothes in the world."

"Yes, ma'am."

I noticed a guy that I thought was a shade. He was lost in a long line. Maybe I could shake him completely.

But why were they tracking me, especially with a man who could be one of their best, a guy that looked like a successful commodities broker in the later middle years of life, if one who drank too much? Obviously I had a lot on them. My current investigation—into a network of small European banks and their link to them—might embarrass them considerably. And the boss had said that the Rome bureau had reported rumors in the city of a new financial scandal in the Vatican, one that would dwarf the Banco Ambrosiano scandal a few years back.

Just as obviously, they knew that if anything happened to me, the paper would instantly print all the stuff in my secret files. Were they afraid I might find out something more during the conclave?

Who are "they"?

The first thing you have to learn when you get on the international crime beat is that "they" are not a single group, nor even a loose alliance of a lot of groups—drug dealers, arms merchants, the Outfit, the Russian Outfit, crooked bankers, remnants of the CIA and the KGB and their agents, the diamond monopoly, and a dozen or so other international entrepreneurs of crime and corruption. The second thing you have to learn is that representatives of these various groups know one another and on occasion talk to one another when necessity demands—as when you want to kill a pope, like they tried to do back in the eighties. Any and all of these institutions might be interested in me, even if all of them were, I fervently hoped, afraid to kill me.

I was not supposed to spot the shade. But I usually picked them up at once. Comes of being the son of a cop.

What might I learn at a papal election that they most particularly did not want me to learn?

As I had said to the boss, "I'm on the international crime beat. Remember? What's that got to do with a papal election?"

"Give me a break, Dinny! You've heard about the Vatican Bank scandal, the Banco Ambrosiano, the Masonic Lodge they called P-2 which a lot of cardinals were supposed to belong to, Liceo Gelli and his bunch. Hell, you know enough history to realize that the Vatican has been corrupt since the Reformation."

"Before that."

"And there was that pope who died after only a month in office back in 1978.... What was his name?"

"John Paul?"

"No, that's the guy that just died."

"One and Two."

"Yeah. Anyway, there were a lot of stories that he was murdered."

"More likely died of medical neglect."

"Yeah, but is it possible to buy a papal election? Ty Williams seems to think so. He plans to buy it. That's a great story line!"


(Continues...)

Excerpted from White Smoke by Andrew M. Greeley. Copyright © 1996 Andrew M. Greeley Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Priest, sociologist, author and journalist, Father Andrew M. Greeley built an international assemblage of devout fans over a career spanning five decades. His books include the Bishop Blackie Ryan novels, including The Archbishop in Andalusia, the Nuala Anne McGrail novels, including Irish Tweed, and The Cardinal Virtues. He was the author of over 50 best-selling novels and more than 100 works of non-fiction, and his writing has been translated into 12 languages.

Father Greeley was a Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona and a Research Associate with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. In addition to scholarly studies and popular fiction, for many years he penned a weekly column appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers. He was also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, the National Catholic Reporter, America and Commonweal, and was interviewed regularly on national radio and television. He authored hundreds of articles on sociological topics, ranging from school desegregation to elder sex to politics and the environment.

Throughout his priesthood, Father Greeley unflinchingly urged his beloved Church to become more responsive to evolving concerns of Catholics everywhere. His clear writing style, consistent themes and celebrity stature made him a leading spokesperson for generations of Catholics. He chronicled his service to the Church in two autobiographies, Confessions of a Parish Priest and Furthermore!

In 1986, Father Greeley established a $1 million Catholic Inner-City School Fund, providing scholarships and financial support to schools in the Chicago Archdiocese with a minority student body of more than 50 percent. In 1984, he contributed a $1 million endowment to establish a chair in Roman Catholic Studies at the University of Chicago. He also funded an annual lecture series, "The Church in Society," at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois, from which he received his S.T.L. in 1954.
Father Greeley received many honors and awards, including honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland at Galway, the University of Arizona and Bard College. A Chicago native, he earned his M.A. in 1961 and his Ph.D. in 1962 from the University of Chicago.
Father Greeley was a penetrating student of popular culture, deeply engaged with the world around him, and a lifelong Chicago sports fan, cheering for the Bulls, Bears and the Cubs. Born in 1928, he died in May 2013 at the age of 85.


Priest, sociologist, author and journalist, Father Andrew M. Greeley built an international assemblage of devout fans over a career spanning five decades. His books include the Bishop Blackie Ryan novels, including The Archbishop in Andalusia, the Nuala Anne McGrail novels, including Irish Tweed, and The Cardinal Virtues. He was the author of over 50 best-selling novels and more than 100 works of non-fiction, and his writing has been translated into 12 languages.

Father Greeley was a Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona and a Research Associate with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago. In addition to scholarly studies and popular fiction, for many years he penned a weekly column appearing in the Chicago Sun-Times and other newspapers. He was also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, the National Catholic Reporter, America and Commonweal, and was interviewed regularly on national radio and television. He authored hundreds of articles on sociological topics, ranging from school desegregation to elder sex to politics and the environment.

Throughout his priesthood, Father Greeley unflinchingly urged his beloved Church to become more responsive to evolving concerns of Catholics everywhere. His clear writing style, consistent themes and celebrity stature made him a leading spokesperson for generations of Catholics. He chronicled his service to the Church in two autobiographies, Confessions of a Parish Priest and Furthermore!

In 1986, Father Greeley established a $1 million Catholic Inner-City School Fund, providing scholarships and financial support to schools in the Chicago Archdiocese with a minority student body of more than 50 percent. In 1984, he contributed a $1 million endowment to establish a chair in Roman Catholic Studies at the University of Chicago. He also funded an annual lecture series, “The Church in Society,” at St. Mary of the Lake Seminary, Mundelein, Illinois, from which he received his S.T.L. in 1954.

Father Greeley received many honors and awards, including honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland at Galway, the University of Arizona and Bard College. A Chicago native, he earned his M.A. in 1961 and his Ph.D. in 1962 from the University of Chicago.

Father Greeley was a penetrating student of popular culture, deeply engaged with the world around him, and a lifelong Chicago sports fan, cheering for the Bulls, Bears and the Cubs. Born in 1928, he died in May 2013 at the age of 85.

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White Smoke: A Novel about the Next Papal Conclave 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting book that is fun to read! It takes tge reader through both the mechanics and the politics of papal elections and doesn't spare the Church a dose of reality either.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This fictional book focuses on the election of John Paul II successor. The story has everything--love, media wars, Vatican politics, rogues, and historical facts--and is easy to digest, but the strong case the book makes for change in the Roman church should not be taken lightly.