The New White Martyrdom: Cancellation of Good Catholic Priests
The clash between traditional Catholic teaching and its compromised modern equivalent reaches a climax in this novel by a multiple bestselling Amazon author.
My new novel “A Truthful Man” simply had to be written.
It had to be written because hundreds of good and holy Catholic priests are having their priestly faculties removed, their accommodation taken way and their pay reduced or stopped altogether.
What is their crime? Proclaiming the Truth of Jesus Christ, and having the courage to speak out against the current culture in defence of God’s Truth.
These men dare to be Catholic and their superiors don’t like it: they find authentic Catholicism ‘offensive’ and fear the laity will, too. Such prelates have forgotten that the people of His day found Christ offensive. The truth hurts, but must be declared in order to save souls. As the Bride of Christ, our Church is supposed to be in this world, but not of this world. We’re supposed to be counter-cultural, proclaiming the unchanged and unchanging Truth, that Rock for us to cling to, however crazy the world around us becomes.
On the other hand, progressive priests who show no reverence for the Real Presence or any belief in Catholic doctrine, are given the green light by their superiors to pursue their ungodly and wholly un-Catholic agenda.
What Is Being Done?
Does anyone care about these holy and abandoned priests, whose vocations are in ruins?
In my related podcast What Is Truth? I talk about ‘a group of committed Catholics, lay people and clergy’ who have joined forces ‘after one too many instances of persecution of betrayal.’ The mission of this group, The Coalition for Canceled Priests is to spiritually and materially support ‘faithful priests who seek to return to active ministry after being unjustly canceled by their bishops.’
In penning this novel, I hope to do my part in bringing awareness to the plight of these priests and to the organization that is helping them.
What’s the Book About?
“A Truthful Man” follows Father James, a traditional Catholic priest who is happily settled in the tiny parish of King’s Brambling on the coast of southern England. He loves preaching the truth and his parishioners love him.
An old university friend, Mark Boulder is also pleased with life as the founder of a highly successful investment company. His brother-in-law is the influential bishop, who ensures that a good proportion of church donations flow into the coffers of Mark’s new charity for senior citizens.
Mark is hailed as an upstanding citizen. But his life of lies starts to crumble around him and he lashes out against the infuriatingly upright Father James, with the help of the bishop.
Father James discovers what fate awaits a priest who insists on telling the truth, whatever the cost. The bishop’s retaliation is swift and severe and the pastor is kicked out of his rectory.
Now on the wrong side of the law as well as his whole community, Mark is soon aware that the only person who can aid him is the very priest whose vocation he has destroyed.
But even if he can humble himself to ask Father James for forgiveness, why should the betrayed priest help him?
It is my hope that the reader will find the book entertaining, while learning something of what is going on in the Catholic Church today and what the laity can do about it. As Archbishop Fulton Sheen says, it’s up to us, the people, to “see that your priests act like priests, your bishops act like bishops.”
May this novel inspire you to help our holy canceled priests. We need them back in the pulpits!
A Truthful Man is available at the following stores:
In the meantime, I’ll enjoy revisiting the residents of Brotherton and experiencing the dramatic events that unfold in that usually quiet part of the West Country.
VillagersDodo and BobOlding
Two characters in the book, Dodo and Bob, are very dear to me and based on a real couple who used to live down the lane from our house in Gloucestershire. Like us, they owned horses, and the woods running behind our two properties belonged to them.
My husband and I would ride through the forest and up the hill to their house, where the real Dodo and Bob would urge us to put our steeds in their stables while we had a ‘little something to drink’ together.
We loved sitting outside in their quintessentially English garden, looking over the fields and watching the geese and chickens wander in and out of the kitchen, chased by a lively Shi Tzu.
Then my husband and I would get back on our horses and ride home, glowing with bonhomie, before it got too dark to see where we were going.
Bob and Dodo introduced us to the Queen’s cousin and his wife, who lived one door down in a large house with an active ghost. They invited us to cocktails and subsequently to dinner, where my American husband kissed the Princess on the cheek. There was no way I was going to kiss the Prince: he would have been horrified!
Dodo was even more colorful than I have portrayed her in the book. She used to make the most outrageous comments. She and Bob could never agree on the details of any story, and you’d better have eaten before you went to their house, as she usually burnt the food.
But she was a generous and loving soul, and when she passed away from a heart attack, sitting in her chair in the garden, Bob was grief-stricken. He held it together for four years before taking his own life on the anniversary of her death.
As a Catholic, I had no peace because he’d committed suicide, a mortal sin. I worried about Bob’s soul and confided in my parish priest. He told me that God would have understood the condition of my friend’s mind and for me not to be anxious, but to pray for him.This I still do.
I miss them both. Bob got to read Brittle Diamonds before he died, and thoroughly enjoyed my portrayal of him and Dodo. I am so very glad of it.
Why I Wrote the Book
After more than twenty years away from the Catholic Church, I finally returned to the fold.
There are many reasons why, but the catalyst was the birth of my son, although it still took me several years after that to commit fully to my faith.
When our little family moved to the States from England, I was thrilled to discover that Catholics weren’t in the minority as they are in the United Kingdom. I suddenly belonged to a huge community!
My local parish priest was a very charismatic man, whose sermons were both entertaining and educational. We all loved him.
Then came that fatal day when he told us he was under investigation for sexual abuse of seminarians, allegedly perpetrated some thirty years before.
We were all horrified that anyone could make such an accusation against our wonderful pastor, and were confident he would be swiftly exonerated and back in the pulpit.
Sadly, this was not to be the case.
My sorrow at discovering my Catholic leader was not above reproach led me to write this book.
The novel handles several other difficult issues in addition to the priest scandal, which was raging then and sadly still is. It will be a long time before the Catholic Church recovers, but recover she will.
The sermon in Chapter 17 is poached from a real sermon preached at the time of our priest’s disgrace.
The positive effect Dr. Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaosare having on the youth of today, especially young men, is undeniable. Though a big fan of his, I was still concerned that his views may be at odds with Catholic teaching.
I am currently writing the third book in The Father Michael Trilogy and looking for a realistic way to bring hope to Joe Harper and those who suffer like him with ulcerative colitis or other IBDs.
Joe comes from a Catholic family, so is Dr. Peterson a good spiritual father for him?
Dr. Peterson Attacks Nihilism
Life is difficult and Dr. Peterson doesn’t sugarcoat the fact. His is not a ‘feel-good’ book, which makes a refreshing change.
But he stresses that throwing our hands up in despair is irresponsible and the easy way out. ‘Everything is horrible, there’s nothing I can (want) to do about it, so what is the point of existence? I’ll just feel sorry for myself and make everyone else around me more miserable, too.’
Instead Dr. Peterson urges us to stand up and voluntarily accept ‘the burden of Being’ and ‘the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open.’ ‘There is evil to overcome, suffering to ameliorate, and yourself to better.’ We must make whatever sacrifices are needed in order to ‘generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language.)’
Christ ‘outlines … the proper aim of mankind’ in the Sermon on the Mount. We must ‘aim at the highest good’ which puts us on a heavenward trajectory and ‘makes (us) hopeful.’
The psychologist urges us not to make the world a worse place but a better place. Either we are advancing the world towards Hell or towards Heaven. Which do we want to inhabit?
He points to history, warning us of the extremes to which people will go when they don’t take on the burden for improving life but instead seek scapegoats for their unhappiness. They become bitter, resentful, vengeful and ultimately murderous. He reminds us of the excesses of Hitler, Stalin, and the Communist Party in China and Russia in the 20th Century. Extreme right and extreme left ideologies are equally dangerous.
In Our Lord’s prayer we ask that “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven” and Dr. Peterson states clearly, ‘To place the alleviation of unnecessary pain and suffering at the pinnacle of your hierarchy of value is to work to bring about the Kingdom of God on Earth.’ This viewpoint does not conflict with Catholicism or Christianity in general.
He tells us to meet suffering head on and be heroes – a great message for the lost young men of today. What a worthy challenge! Be the hero who reduces the suffering of others.
He says that the clinical psychologist has brought to light once more why Scripture matters and is ‘recovering the power of those texts’. They are not dead myths, which prominent atheists would have us believe, otherwise they couldn’t have lasted so long and had such influence.
“Jordan Peterson and Bishop Barron are the two biggest reasons why I’m getting confirmed Catholic tomorrow 😀. God bless you both”
“…I was a cradle catholic and left the church when I was 18….I went to my first confession in 20 years last month and have gone to every service since Ash Wednesday thanks to Dr Peterson’s work. I’ve even picked up the Bible.. it is like a switch has been flipped.”
What a resounding endorsement!
Bishop Barron states that Dr. Peterson believes deeply in the texts of the Bible and is spreading the message that faith in them is a matter of life and death. This is most definitely the Christian viewpoint!
Where Peterson’s Views Diverge from Catholicism
On the topic of whether Dr. Peterson’s views are Christian, Bishop Barron is scrupulously fair. He stresses that the author doesn’t claim to be a Christian theologian nor a Christian – he’s looking at the Bible from a purely psychological viewpoint.
Dr. Peterson is an avid follower of Jung, who said that the first great psychologists were the early Church Fathers. Yet in his video Bishop Barron on the Jordan Peterson Phenomenon the bishop cautions that the psychologist’s ideas verge on Gnosticism – the idea that only a few cognoscenti can know Christianity. Wikipedia describes one of the Gnostic core teachings as ‘To achieve salvation, one needs to get in touch with secret knowledge.’
Bishop Barron’s other concern with Gnostics is that they tend to ‘bracket the historical references in these biblical texts,’ thereby ignoring the reality of events in the Bible. The bishop reminds us that, rather than being philosophical or psychological, ‘Christianity is stubbornly historical.’ It matters that God really did become man, that He really did rise from the dead. Those are historical facts.
Christ is not an archetype, as Dr. Peterson describes Him – He is not a myth. The ‘myth’ of Christ is firmly grounded in history.
Myths are not rooted in a specific time or place: they happened ‘once upon a time’ and ‘in a faraway galaxy.’ Jesus Christ was ‘crucified under Pontius Pilate.’ We know who Pilate was, where he lived and when. The New Testament may contain mythical elements but is also historical: the Church stubbornly insists on that.
Bishop Barron says the problem with liberal theology is that it sees God ‘as the deep background music of life.’ Biblical theology says that God ‘is a Person who acts in history and has purposes and it is the primacy of God’s Grace that breaks into my life and changes me.’
Bishop Barron endorses Dr. Peterson’s book but cautions us against the Gnostic tendencies in it.
Is Dr. Peterson a Christian?
He makes frequent statements that suggest a belief in God. For example, ‘you have a spark of the divine in you, which belongs not to you, but to God.’ Yet when asked in interviews he declines to come down on one side or the other.
About the Resurrection, he says that the literal (historical) and metaphysical (archetypal) sometimes touch – and that is a miracle. He is not excluding the possibility that the Resurrection truly happened. He is simply unsure about its historical truth and needs another three years to go into it.
Bishop Barron has no problem with that. He suggests we look at St. Paul, who after his encounter with the Risen Christ went to Arabia for three years to sort himself out before coming back to preach the Gospel. Dr. Peterson is in good company.
The bishop regards Dr. Peterson as a spiritual father for young men, whom the psychologist says are starving for direction. Spiritual masters who give spiritual instruction are what they need, according to Bishop Barron, who adds that priests would do well to talk in the same manner as the author of the 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.
Therefore I feel confident that Dr. Jordan Peterson will be a good influence on Joe. He will encourage the teenager to read the Bible. He will urge him to overcome his suffering by being the hero who takes responsibility for his actions and makes the world a better place.
Using him as a spiritual adviser to Joe is not a bad place to start.
Where do you stand on Dr. Jordan Peterson? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!
Father Michael’s brother-in-law has an impossible house guest – Justin, an army veteran suffering from PTSD – and the man is making life miserable for his host family.
But the priest has no practical assistance to offer, until an incident in church gives him an idea. Naturally, his plan involves the ever-reluctant and newly-wed trainer Jack Harper. It will also require the help of Isaac, a very special but damaged horse on his farm.
And a wager.
Meanwhile Father Michael gives a podcast interview to a local atheist hoping to trip him up on Catholic matters. As soon as the podcast is aired, church attendance plummets and the priest is under intense pressure from his bishop to rectify the situation.
Justin is no closer to coming back to the faith and the podcaster is rejoicing in his victory over the Church.
Will God makes good come out of evil for those who love Him, as Father Michael desperately wants to believe?
When I first moved to the States from England in 2001, I was also in the process of returning to the Church after many years of anti-Catholicism.
The transition from Europe to the United States was a tough one, but that isn’t why I came back to my faith. It was actually from reading a book my mother-in-law gave me by Charles Stanley, about whether one could be certain of eternal salvation.
I like to joke about how a book given to me by a Baptist lady brought me back to Catholicism! But that’s a topic for another day.
The point is, here I was, finally reconciling with the faith of my youth. I was only taking baby steps, but at least making the effort to go to Mass every Sunday.
The Awesome Priest
We had a wonderful, huge church called St. Michael. I could be anonymous among the thousand or so parishioners, and no one talked to me or made any demands on me. I could come and go unnoticed. It was perfect.
Father John, the parish priest, was phenomenal with a wonderful sense of humor. His sermons were interesting and thought provoking, and I looked forward to hearing what he had to say every week.
I’d been listening to him for about three years when he suddenly said something that neither I nor any of the other parishioners wanted to hear.
Allegations of sexual abuse had been made against him and he was being suspended from his position.
Many victims were now coming forward after years of allowing themselves to be paid off in return for their silence. What a terrible time to return to the Church! I’d just got back into the routine of being Catholic again, and now this!
Of course none of us wanted to believe that our beloved pastor had done any of the awful things he was being accused of.
I wanted Father John to be innocent, regardless of what people might say.
I carefully listened to his repeated defense, that he had been a blameless priest for the past thirty years.
But, I noted, the allegations against him dated prior to thirty years ago. Could it be that he was guilty yet trying to make it sound as if he weren’t?
Shaken to the core, I needed an outlet for my frustration.
I began outlining the rough draft for a novel which tackled the sore topic of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and Brittle Diamonds was born.
While I was writing the book, Father John was found guilty of the charges against him and defrocked. It was a horrible shock but it made me even more determined to finish my book.
I set the novel in a fictional Cotswold village near where I used to live, in the west of the England. Doing so took me back home and away from the sad realities around me.
For we had got a new priest, whom we liked very much. But just as we were getting used to him, he made the unexpected announcement: “I am an alcoholic and am going into rehab.”
Boom! That was it. He was gone.
Were there no good priests left? It is an issue that I also bring up in the book.
“This is a well-written story. The characters are well-defined and believable. The details about the church and the priesthood were also well-written.”
“Great read. I was ‘hooked’ by page 3. Very interesting and complex character portrayals. Suspenseful until the very end. I could not have predicted the outcome. I was torn between wanting to finish the book so I could find out the ending, yet I didn’t want the literary experience to end. Days after completing the novel, I was still thinking about the characters and actually hoping for a sequel.”