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Crimes of the Father by Thomas Keneally
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Crimes of the Father (2016)

by Thomas Keneally

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Fiction account of a Catholic priest who goes home to Austrailia, from where he had been exiled for his political church views, to discover the son of a friend had committed suicide. He had left a note citing the sexual abuse he had experienced which led to other actions on the visiting priest with exposing the priests involved in the abuse and the cover-up. I would have given it a "five", but the author's Austrailian dialect and writing style made the read a bit arduous. He also wrote SCHINDLER'S LIST. ( )
  LivelyLady | Mar 31, 2018 |
Keneally's novel will, without a doubt, scare many people away just by virtue of its subject. It's difficult to pick up a book which you know from the get-go is going to focus on sexual abuse, the Catholic Church, and children who've been taken advantage of by their own priests. And yet, Keneally's creation of Father Frank Doherty is touching, nuanced, and striking; his character is one who is stuck in a situation and place that he never dreamed of entering at all, surrounded by people who distrust him because of his openness and values, and an institution he loves, but sees honestly and feels compelled to criticize because he believes it is only through such criticism that its greatness can be regained, if not maintained.

Keneally's gorgeous writing and unerring pacing make this book nearly impossible to put down, despite the fact that he takes on subjects which, most often, are more comfortably left unspoken. The book is striking, smart, and compelling, and well worth reading for anyone concerned with the Catholic Church as an institution or the faith in our contemporary world, as well as any reader who might be interested in an intricate character study of a man who is caught irrevocably between his faith and his reality.

Absolutely, 100%, recommended. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Mar 31, 2018 |
Frank Docherty is exiled by his order to Canada (from his native Australia) after speaking openly on topics such as the Vietnam War. In Ontario he studies and works as a psychologist specializing in sexual abuse by priests. He returns to Australia to give a lecture and visit his mother, and receives information suggesting that the brother of a very close friend has in the past abused both teenage boys and girls. This brother is (on behalf of the church) currently seeking to make small monetary payments to people abused by other priests in exchange for confidentiality agreements. Frank is obliged to follow his conscience, even though this may jeopardize his chances of returning to Australia for good.

I found this novel interesting, although in a rather cerebral way. There was tension in the way the narrative explored how the church would respond to allegations and whether Frank would persevere. However, some of the story was quite technical and there were chunks which read like a history text book. I found plenty to ponder in connection with the consequences of demanding celibacy of priests and whether those entering the seminary were already a self-selected group of men running from sexual difficulties. The portions dealing with the failure of the church to allow contraception were very interesting to me, but seemed to be making a different point altogether. Indeed there were discussions between characters in the novel about following individual conscience or blind obedience to the Pope/church. Again, these were interesting, but it was like listening to a lecture rather than relating to fully rounded characters facing decisions in their own lives.

Having said all that, I would be interested to read other novels by this author. ( )
  pgchuis | Oct 30, 2017 |
Father Frank Docherty seems to attract controversy. He’s a good man and a good priest but his beliefs are sometimes at odds with the Catholic Church. He was banished from the Australian church in the sixties due to his religious beliefs and he truly wants to return to Australia and their church so he can be near his aging mother. But events come about that bring him into direct confrontation with the same Cardinal he’s trying to win favor with. He’s become aware of several incidents of child abuse by a now well-known and respected monsignor. His conscience won’t allow him to turn a blind eye to these horrendous betrayals of trust.

I had a bit of a problem getting into this book. In the beginning there are somewhat long essays about church dogma that I didn’t find particularly interesting. There was nothing in there that was new to me. And at times the book read almost like case studies instead of a novel. I found the beginning to be quite dry and didactic. It took a while for the character of Father Docherty to grow on me. Certainly the stories of the child abuse and the way the church tried to cover it up were very shocking and disturbing. But I wasn’t drawn into the story line until late in the book. Once I was pulled into the story, I enjoyed it more. I remember reading “Schindler’s List” with much more emotion than I did this one. His newest book lacked the emotional impact that I had expected from such a story.

I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway and am under no obligation to review it. ( )
  hubblegal | Sep 20, 2017 |
Keneally's novel deals with a very important topic -- child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. At one level, it is interesting to learn more about the way in which various aspects of the Catholic Church and the way the priesthood is structured, revered, and protected by it. The problem with the book is that it is dry and unemotional -- a surprise and a disappointment given the themes. I did hear Keneally being interviewed about this book and he said this was the way he chose to write the story. I think that was a mistake as something so devastating for so many people should, in my opinion, include the emotional dimension. Sometimes, dispassionate objectivity doesn't do justice to the the realities of the story. While the novel does provide important insights into the problem of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church, the lack of emotional engagement means that it is ultimately a disappointment to read. ( )
  spbooks | Sep 5, 2017 |
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Monastery of the Congregation of the Divine Charity
2214 Kitchener Boulevard, Waterloo,
Ontario N2J AO1, CANADA

16 June 1996

His Eminence Cardinal John Charles Condon
Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney
Polding Centre
133 Liverpool Street
NSW 2000
AUSTRALIA

Your Eminence,
Re: Dr Francis Dominic Docherty CCD, formerly of the archdiocese of Sydney
Please accept my most reverent respects.
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From one of our greatest living writers, a bold and timely novel about sin cloaked in sacrament, shame that enforces silence, and the courage of one priest who dares to speak truth to power. Sent away from his native Australia to Canada due to his radical preaching against the Vietnam War, apartheid, and other hot button issues, Father Frank Docherty made for himself a satisfying career as a psychologist and monk. When he returns to Australia to lecture on the future of celibacy and the Catholic Church, he is unwittingly pulled into the lives of two people, a young man, via his suicide note, and an ex-nun, both of whom claim to have been sexually abused by a prominent monsignor. As a member of the commission investigating sex abuse within the Church, and as a man of character and conscience, Docherty decides he must confront each party involved and try to bring the matter to the attention of both the Church and the secular authorities. What follows will shake him to the core and call into question many of his own choices. This riveting, profoundly thoughtful novel is "the work of a richly experienced and compassionate writer [with] an understanding of a deeply wounded culture" (Sydney Morning Herald). It is an exploration of what it is to be a person of faith in the modern world, and of the courage it takes to face the truth about an institution you love.… (more)

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