Wednesday, January 5, 1983
The Rev. Andrew Greeley isn't
exactly what the Vatican would call
an ideal priest. Besides writing a
syndicated column that consistently
ignites controversy within the
Catholic church, Greeley churns out
best-selling novels about the sex
lives of priests. Although some
Catholics find his two books, Car-
dinal Sins and Thy Brother's Wife,
cheap exploitation, Greeley claims
they are merely modern-day
parables. Daily staff writer Greg
Brusstar spoke with Greeley last
month about his mass-market ap-
peal and Catholic views on
Daily: One writer called your novels
"steamy potboilers." You describe
them as parables. Do you think three
million people have bought your books
to find a parable or a thrill?
Greeley: Anyone who thinks they're
steamy simply hasn't read very much
contemporary fiction. They're very
mild compared to comtemporary fic-
tion. They're very mild, in fact, in com-
parison to some passages of the scrip-
ley : Of
ture such as the Song of Solomon.
The label "steamy potboiler" is a
certain kind of smear a Catholic
reviewer has to throw at the book.
There's only one reason why people buy
millions of a novel-they want to read a
good story. You may sell a few to people
curious to find out that a priest could
write something steamy. But you don't
sell three million unless word of mouth
says it's a good story.
Daily: The books describe sexual ac-
ts and urges of priests. Why does that
shock people so?
Greeley: I don't know how many
people it shocks. The books, of course,
aren't primarily about the sexual acts
of priests. They're about God's grace
and how God works in us through other
human beings. I think some people are
shocked that priests are sexual
creatures, that they have hormones and
fantasies. The reason is that many
Catholics were brought up to believe
once you became a priest, you ceased to
be human. Emotions and all human
reactions just vanished. That's heresy.
In Cardinal Sins, the character is a
proud priest, and pride is a lot worse
than lust; it's the most serious of the
cardinal sins. People are not upset that
I portrayed him as proud, but because
he was lustful. I think that represents a
serious misunderstanding of what
Christianity's all about.
Daily: Have you gotten any flak from
other priests or the Vatican?
Greeley: Not from the Vatican or the
hierarchy. One archbishop said to me
he read the story and enjoyed it; his
priest didn't like it, but then he hadn't
read it. I think a lot of priests bitterly
resent the books, without having read
them, because the books have been so
Daily: Does the priesthood look down
on a wealthy priest?
Greeley: Well, I'm not a Jesuit and
I'm not wealthy. Sometimes I think I
made the mistake not of writing novels,
but of writing ones that were so suc-
cessful. If priests do look down on
another priest who makes money, then
they're, in the strict sense of the word,
guilty of envy.
Daily: Your books have a mass
market appeal. Do you think that's the
best hope for the church-broadening
Greeley: It seems to me that mass
market stories are the modern
equivalent of stained glass windows.
It's a way of talking about religion to a
large number of people. I don't know if
it's the best hope or the only way, but
it's one way.
Daily: Has the church failed its
followers on birth control?
Greeley: The way I put it, I think it's
failed to understand the importance of
sex in marriage. I think that's where
the breakdown has been. I think most of
the decisions on sexuality in the past 50
years have been made without any in-
put from the married laity. I don't think
that's because the church is malicious.
It's because there aren't any in-
probably need is a few more orgies.
Daily: Do you think in the near future
priests will be able to get married?
Greeley: I doubt it. What we may
have in the future is limited servic4
priesthood-people agreeing to serve as
priests for five or ten years. I don't see
with the present administration any op-
tion for marriage surfacing at all.
Daily: What about the chances of
having women priests? Are they good?
Greeley: I sure hope so. I think it's;a
grave injustice. I don't think celibacyis
an unjust vow, but I think failure to or-
dain women is unjust.
Our research shows tha
demographically there's one group in
the country that gives majority support
to women priests and that's Irish
Catholic men over forty. Why? Thai's
easy. If you're an Irish Catholic mon
you've had three, four sacred womenin
your life. Your mother, your wife, your
sister, your daughter . .. they've told
you what to do all your lifp and you go
along with it.
Daily: How do you view yourself.
Are you moderate, liberal, conser-
Greeley: I'm an Irish-Catholic
Democrat from Chicago. I'm a
pragmatist. I get denounced by both
sides. And anybody who can do that
can't be all wrong.
Dialogue is a weekly feature bf
the Opinion Page.
Greeley: "The Vatican goes around wringing its hands about the dangers of
orgies ... in fact, what we probably need is a few more orgies."
stitutions for word to channel upward.
Daily: What do you think the church's
position should be on birth control?
Greeley: I think the first thing the
church should do is find ways of
listening to what the married laity have
to say about it. It often seems as if the
church is trying to warn people about
what one document called "unbridled
sex." In fact, as one of my colleagues
pointed out, the danger in most
marriages is bridled sex. The Vatican
goes around wringing its hands about
the dangers of orgies. Married people
might start having orgies unless we
warn them. And, in fact, what we
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Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
T HE SPECTER of gas lines, odd-
even rationing, and OPEC must
seem -very distant to the president
these days. There's something of a glut
on the world petroleum market, prices
for oil are dropping, and the stability of
OPEC's pricing structure seems to be
eroding almost daily. The president
surely has important things on his
mind-like the budget-so why should
he be worried about something as
remote as an oil embargo now?
He should be, quite simply, because
his actions on this year's budget will
almost certainly determine how
vulnerable the United States will be in
the event of a future embargo.
At issue is the amount of money that
should be spent on the nation's
strategic petroleum reserve. Created
in response to the 1973 Arab oil em-
bargo, the reserve was designed to
provide the nation with enough oil to
get by for four months in the event of
The idea was sound: The reserve
would act as a kind of insurance policy
against the economic upheaval which
accompanied the last embargo, and its
very existence would cause OPEC to
think twice before taking any drastic
actions. The only problem has been a
failure to carry out the plan.
It took Congress until 1980 to start
buying,the oil in the first place-and
now, the Reagan administration seems
to be eyeing the oil reserve for possible
The expenditures on the reserve, in
fact, have already been cut. In 1980,
Congress stipulated that oil be added to
the reserve at a rate of 300,000 barrels
a day. That stipulation was met until
early this year, when the ad-
ministration, claiming that there was a
lack of storage capacity, cut its pur-
chasing rate to 220,000 barrels a day.
Now, with the administration fran-
tically looking for places to cut the
budget, a restoration of the original
purchasing level seems unlikely.
Such cuts, while temporarily ex-
pedient, are exceedingly dangerous.
True, higher prices and the recession
have forced American oil consumption
down; in many ways, an embargo
today would not hurt the United States
as much as the 1973 embargo did. But
that doesn't mean we can ignore the
problem. A large portion of our
economy-and, more importantly, the
economies of our trading partners-is
directly dependent on imported oil. At
best, a new oil embargo would force
prices up and create massive
economic turmoil; at worst, such an
embargo could seriously damage
already weak Western economies.
But the administration's reluctance
to develop the strategic reserve isn't
just a risk-it also wastes an enormous
opportunity. The administration
couldn't ask for a better time to buy oil.
Prices are low, and the supply is so
plentiful that large purchases will not
greatly affect the market. Moreover, a
number of U.S. allies-such as
Mexico-badly need the money they
would get from additional oil sales.
The Reagan administration is taking
a gamble by cutting the purchases for
the oil reserve, but it is a gamble the
country cannot afford to take.
Congress has already taken action to
allow the Department of Energy to
rent additional storage space for the
oil; the next step is for the ad-
ministration to give full funding to the
reserve in the budget.
ARET YoU SUStCOcUS OF
PE'LE VPO WANTTO CUT
SAN FRANCISCO - With sur-
prisingly little fanfare, a major
revolution is underway in the
midst of one of the nation's most
conservative, tradition-bound in-
stitutions-the urban police for-
ce. The snarling, club-wielding,
violence-prone cop is out, and a
new walking, talking,
cooperative police officer is in. At
least that's the intent of
numerous big city chiefs across
The new approach places
special emphasis on community
outreach-a tacit recognition
that police, alone, cannot contain
crime. It represents a dramatic
change from the police image of
the '60s and early '70s: a deter-
mination to invest police work
with a humane and sympathetic
quality after decades of being
perceived as proponents of brute
force. As one chief put it: "We're
not the heavies anymore. We're
the good guys."
POLICE LEADERS today
were recruits or middle-rank of-
ficers when civil rights riots, ur-
ban disturbances, and anti-war
protests nightly projected the
dominant police image of that era
onto home TV screens. It was an
image of paramilitary power,
helmeted, armored and
phalanxed for assault, spewing
tear gas from helicopters, cat-
ching and beating young demon-
strators, using guns at Kent State
and sticks to bar black children
from integrated schools. It was
not a winsome image.
Several chiefs today
acknowledge dismay at the
earlier focus on militarism.
"We've broken some negative
traditions," said Chief Joseph
McNamara of San Jose, Calif.
"The police used to look at the
populace as hostile and figure,
'It's them against us.' Now we're
working to convince the entire
department we are public ser-
vants. We can't be effective
unless we have the cooperation
and respect of the public."
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residents participating in
"home alert" programs and in-
vites interested citizens to "ride
along" on police patrols "so they
appreciate what we are doing."
In Santa Ana, Calif., ties with
the community are close and the
crime rate is down. Says Capt.
Paul Walters, "We've gotten
away from militarization. We're
not locked away in our cars."
"In the '60s and early '70s we
were so inundated by crime in the
metropolitan districts that we
became alienated from the
public," says Chief George Hart
of Oakland, Calif. "We were the
face in the car flashing by. It
suggested a reduced level of con-
cern for people. Now we're tur-
ning that around. Our product is
the delivery of services to our
community. We have the skills.
We aim to demonstrate a help-
fulness in a humane way, with a
high degree of sensitivity."
SOME OBSERVERS are skep-
tical. Experience shows there
still are police who bust heads
with their batons, harass
minorities, get foul-mouthed
during arrests and brutal in
jailing. The demand for civilian
review boards grows and legal
actions multiply, claiming false
turn to community involvement.
The shift takes many forms:
restoring officers to regular
neighborhood beats; forming
"block clubs" or "neighborhood
watches" to involve citizens
before local crime spreads
widely; inviting minorities to air
complaints; enlisting non-sworn
civilians into police 'service"
posts for duties far beyond those
"police reserves" used to fulfill.
where crime is highest, also see a
new relationship opening up with
police. Of course there are neigh-
borhoods in some cities that don't
see any relationship except
harassment-when a chief's
enlightened attitu'de may not
reach down the ranks. But police.
administrators consider recent
reports of a 5 percent decline in
major crimes across the nation
the first vindication of the new
In Santa Ana, Calif., where the
approach is labeled Community
Oriented Policing (COP),'
systematic organization of each
block and each neighborhood has
plunged local merchants and
homeowners into lively
discussions of their immediate
safety problems. They initiated
citywide planning on crime con-
much in joint venturing with the
community but in bringing their
own rank and file around to an at-
titude of service rather than
mere power. The chiefs confront
a body of men steeped in conser-
vative tradition, resistant to
change, powerfully reinforced by
strong police officer associations
and split between older cadres
and newer recruits, white of
ficers versus black, male officers
hope for is a growing pride in
police professionalism that will
overreach the internal frictions.
The goal, once communities are
helpfully engaged in local sur-
veillance, is to sharpen
awareness of the real skill police
have in dealing with, criminal
This skill, in part, is a con
sequence of higher education
within the force. "We're not
smarter than police used to be,'
said one lieutenant. "But we do
have more college-educated
cops. That seems to make a dif-
ference in attitude towards the
The increased professionalism
in police forces also is backed b
broadened and improved rookie
training, begun in the '70s, which
puts new emphasis on understarr
ding minority cultures, dealing
with domestic disputes and
responding sensitively to rape
victims. Many of these changes
have resulted from a decade of
research sponsored by the Police
Foundation, set up by the Ford
Foundation to "foster in'
novation" in crime fighting, and
by Police Executive Research
Forum, concerned especially
with big-city crime.
IN NEIGHBORHOODS where
residents still feel they suffe;
from police harassment or
neglect-Overtown in Miami
being a case in point-police
progress is relative. But the heart
of the matter is that police them-
selves are radically reassessing
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