Item description for The Red Hat by Ralph M. McInerny...
Ralph McInerny, popular author, editor and teacher, presents a novel of suspense, humor and spiritual insight about the Catholic Church rocked by schism, scandal and contested papal elections early in the third millennium.
Thomas Lannan, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., is threatened by a scandal dating from his youth just as he is named Cardinal. The Pope dies before Lannan and other nominees are inducted into the College and they are excluded from the conclave. This leads to widespread criticism and the new pope, having enlarged the College of Cardinals considerably, is killed in a plane crash. The next conclave elects the controversial Pope Timothy from Tanzania. Schism threatens as the decadent West resists its marginalization because of the massive demographic shift to the east and south.
In Avignon, an anti-pope is elected. Thomas Lannan, against the grain of his brother bishops, remains loyal to Timothy and rallies a remnant of the American church. His moral triumph is threatened when he is accused of having fathered a child when he was a seminarian. He becomes the subject of a sensational trial. This issue will be settled by DNA evidence. The suspense builds. Did he or didn't he?
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Ralph McInerny (1929-2010) was Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies and director emeritus of the Jacques Maritain Center, University of Notre Dame. He was the author of numerous works in philosophy, literature, fiction, and journalism, including The Very Rich Hours of Jacques Maritain, Characters in Search of Their Author, and his autobiography, I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You, all published by the University of Notre Dame Press.
Ralph M. McInerny currently resides in South Bend, in the state of Indiana.
Reviews - What do customers think about The Red Hat?
An ecclesiastical thriller! Sep 17, 2000
I found the Red Hat to be a page turner about the alleged current struggle in the Catholic Church to define what Vatican II was really all about. The reason I say 'alleged' is that the average Catholic has no idea that the struggle is going on, what the issues are about, or who the players are. It's really a conflict that's being waged by intellectuals, pundits, and professionals. Still, the book is smart and a lot of fun. There's some over-the-top bad guys and many humorous observations that keep the story moving swiftly. On a serious note, there's some moving scenes of individuals trying to work out their personal conflicts with faith.
By the way, did I miss something in real life? When did Notre Dame become a bastion of orthodoxy? Or is this, as a previous reviewer has noted, just Ralph McInerny having some fanciful fun?
A bit too little, a bit too much Mar 21, 2000
As someone who would never think of opening a copy of "America" or the National Catholic Reporter, I found this book oppresively dark. The portrait of the hierarchy -- barely Catholic, no trace of the Roman -- that the author starts with is just incredible. As a result, it's hard to take the plot -- which builds on these assumptions about the bishops -- seriously. Not to mention, the image Notre Dame as a haven of ultramontanism seemed just as fanciful in the other direction.
The book also had a bit too much going on. The politics of appointing an ambassador to the Vatican, the mental turmoils of a youngish priest, the machinations of an Archbishop, a conclave showdown between Martini and the Orthodox, numerous flashbacks, a past affair and its results, a plot to expose the archbishop, several 1960s liberals who seem thrown in for color, a new apparition by Our Lady, to name just a few. Too much.
Still, the book has a lot of color. Everything from doctrinal conflict to an allusion to Cardinal Bernardin's selling a Church school to condominium developers rather than Opus Dei (OK, maybe McInerny's view of the hierarchy has some basis in fact; but I still think the majority are not weak and worldly) that one wishes were more thoroughly developed.
A good read. But you can't help but feel a better book was trying to come out.
Terrific and Very Funny! May 19, 1999
Ralph McInerny, Edward Sheehan and Michael O'Brien are the three best Catholic fiction writers working today. This is one of McInerny's best novels, comparable to his first, "The Priest," in that it's a stand-alone story rather than part of a series, like the Father Dowling Mysteries. Much more complex than that too, but with the same sly, almost deadpan humor throughout. He takes an extremely serious subject -- the election of an anti-pope and schism within the Catholic Church -- and makes us see the absurdity of the whole thing as well as the seriousness. Just a really great novel. (The digs at Father Greeley alone are worth the cover price!)
The Best of Speculations on the Next Papal Election Feb 23, 1999
Ralph McInerny does an outstanding job of exploring the start of the twenty-first century with the death of the present Pope. In addition to a well written and tightly wrapped story, McInerny does an absolutely outstanding job of blending current religious perspectivewith the Vatican's inner workings and the sadness seen in the Princes of the Church who have far more invested in politics than in the pastoral or faith dimension of their lives. The best I've read so far on Post Pope John Paul II. Far exceeds Greeley, West and Montalbano for detail and plot development (although I recommend each of them on this same topic). An excellent addition to this increasingly pressing eventuality of needing to replace the current Pope. Hopefull