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Graham Greene (letter)

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 Contents - Oct 2004AD2000 October 2004 - Buy a copy now
Editorial: Addressing the shortfall of priests - Michael Gilchrist
Today's non-practising young Catholics: are Church conservatives to blame? - Michael Gilchrist
News: The Church around the World
Society: US bishops call on Catholic institutions to oppose culture of death - Patrick Reilly
University: International Movement of Catholic Students Australia - Aaron Russell
Liturgy: Why priests should stick to the Mass texts - Bishop T.J. Paprocki
Books: Be Not Afraid: Cardinal George Pell's new book to be launched in November
Society: Why marriage should receive greater government support - Michael Casanova
The Pope's Encyclical on the Eucharist - Sr Mary Augustine OP
Letters: Pastoral letters (letter) - Charles Francis, AM
Letters: State Aid (letter) - Alan A. Hoysted
Letters: Liturgical abuses (letter) - George Simpson
Letters: Graham Greene (letter) - Thomas A. Watkin
Letters: Come As You Are? (letter) - Brigid P. McKenna
Letters: Ghana: help needed (letter) - Name and address supplied
Letters: Year of the Eucharist (letter) - Fr Glen Tattersall FSSP
Letters: Catholic Doctors' Association of Victoria (letter) - Dr Dominica Ho
Books: The Ceremonies Of The Roman Rite Described, Fortescue,O'Connell, Alcuin Reid - Msgr. Peter J. Elliott (reviewer)
Books: The Organic Development of the Liturgy, by Alcuin Reid OSB - Msgr Peter J. Elliott (reviewer)
Books: The Two Wings Of Catholic Thought, edited by D.R. Foster, J.W. Koterski SJ - Br Christian Moe FSC (reviewer)
Books: More new titles from AD Books
Reflection: Our Lady, Fatima and the 'annihilation of nations' - Anne Lastman

Graham Greene just missed canonisation but may have picked up an Academy Award in Liam Houlihan's glowing piece in "honour" of the novelist's 100th birthday (September AD2000). (He died in 1991).

Greene, we are told, "can at once be portrayed as a communist or a Catholic, an angel or a devil, a man of great confidence or a man at sea." Indeed. We also learn that Greene in "a private interview" with Pope Paul was "advised" that "parts of all your books will always offend some Catholics and you shouldn't pay any attention to that."

Mr Houlihan relates Greene's "strong dislike of Americans, particularly the late Ronald Reagan." To which can be added Greene's "championing" of what we Australians call "the battler". Small wonder Greene was a "darling of the left".

Many astute observers have questioned Graham Greene's presentation of himself as "a writer, who happens to be a Catholic"; or just an orthodox Catholic, plain and simple.

For example, the Conrad scholar, Professor Norman Sherry, who wrote The Life of Graham Greene, raises the key and telling question: "Was he [Greene] truly Catholic?" In the same work, Sherry points out that Greene's "intensely romantic love" for his wife, Vivien, died under the weight of children (two) and domestic tedium, and was followed by "many affairs". Hardly the life-style of a committed Catholic?

Sherry next notes Greene's proclaimed doctrine of doubt, highlighting this sceptical characteristic by adverting to the stir Greene caused in 1989 by suggesting Pope John Paul II "lacked a necessary quality - doubt." What about The Creed?

Greene's conversion to Roman Catholicism attracted a lot of attention and stirred an eclectic interest in his literary output, as did his preoccupation with suicide which Professor Sherry soberly notes is "a mortal sin" - a fact that disturbed many Catholic parents and other parents when they found Graham Greene's books on their children's prescribed reading list.

Surely Professor Sherry has a significant question: "Was he [Graham Greene] truly Catholic?"

Burwood, Vic

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Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 17 No 9 (October 2004), p. 14

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