Linden MacIntyre’s “The Bishop’s Man” is a Giller Prize winning novel. It revisits the sexual abuse controversy in the Catholic Church. The venue is predominantly rural Canada, whose historic local fishing industry is vanishing. It is narrated by a priest whose niche is investigating wayward priests so that they may be transplanted elsewhere by the Bishop. The priest who was relocated to Honduras for the benefit of the Church, has flashbacks to his relationship with a more revolutionary priest of purer faith and a woman, Jacinta, who challenged his celibacy. The latter, mixed with alcoholism, is a burden to him, as the weight of his depressing role takes its toll.
As “Spotlight” told the story from journalists’ perspective, this novel addresses it from the Church’s. It is not a unified perspective, although the consequences are uniformly damaging and deadly. Underlying the misdirection of mission, is a crisis in faith: a society that has bypassed the Church; the challenge of celibacy; the product of miscreant priests recruited from a less faithful pool.
This is a fast paced novel. It is pure storytelling. The author is a journalist, so the prose is straight forward. The novel is not illuminating, but is a pleasant read.