The Cardinal Contrasts Religion and Spirituality

The Cardinal opens with  Father Stephen Fermoyle returning to Boston after study in Rome. Stephen’s first job as a curate is under “Dollar Bill” Monaghan, a gifted fundraiser who is suspicious of Stephen’s mystical and intellectual bent.

Stephen next serves an impoverished parish under a saintly priest with no financial abilities at all. Stephen steps into the breech, revealing an aptitude for management.

The Diocese next sends Stephen to the Vatican where his first job is sorting the diplomatic mail that arrives from all over the world. As he learns, he gets more and more responsibility.

In 1927 the Pope sends Stephen back to America as Bishop of Hartfield.

At 44, Stephen bcomes the youngest Archbishop in the US. When the next pope is elected, Stephen is one of the red hatted cardinals voting their choice.

Henry Morton Robinson writes as a lay Catholic, loyal to the Church but not blind to the faults of its leaders. Robinson makes Stephen human, subject to temptations but strong enough to walk away from them.

Unlike most religious novelists, Robinson focuses on the managerial and administrative work of the clergy. This perspective lets Robinson give nuanced portrait of a man who often finds his religious obligations require him to surpress his own spiritual longings.

The Cardinal
By Henry Morton Robinson
Simon and Schuster, 1950
579 pages
#1 bestselling novel in 1950
My grade: B+
© 2010 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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