A timely, courageous and powerful novel about faith, the church, conscience and celibacy. Tom Keneally, ex-seminarian, pulls no punches as he interrogates the terrible damage done to innocents as the Catholic Church has prevaricated around language and points of law, covering up for its own. Ex-communicated to Canada due to his radical preaching on the Vietnam War and other human rights causes, Father Frank Docherty is now a psychologist and monk. He returns to Australia to speak on the future of celibacy and the Church, and unwittingly is soon listening to stories from two different people - a young man, via his suicide note, and an ex-nun - who both claim to have been sexually abused by an eminent Sydney cardinal. This senior churchman is himself currently empannelled in a commission investigating sex abuse within the Church. As a man of character and conscience, Father Docherty finds he must confront each party involved in the abuse and cover-up to try to bring the matter to the attention of the Church itself, and to secular authorities.
This riveting, profoundly thoughtful novel is both an exploration of what it is to be a priest - good and bad - and the restraints of celibacy, as well as an examination of marriage - good and bad - and how it compares.