Sacred Betrayal by Sr. Christine Kresho

My latest review over at Catholic Fiction.net is of a Catholic novel called “Sacred Betrayal.”

The title is intriguing. It has an interesting book cover. The back cover text above is well-written and gives just enough information to pique one’s interest. Unfortunately, this little summary is not really what ends up happening in the novel.

Sacred Betrayal is a novel about the villain, Fr. Will, and his hatred of a liberal Catholic group called Cry Justice (compiled of nuns, priests and others who “love the church but want to change it”). The characters are called by their first names (so it’s easy for the reader to forget most of them are nuns and priests). We eventually find out that Cry Justice’s favorite issues for change are “women’s ordination and inclusive language…” Most of the characters and the main protagonists are part of this organization. The two characters who are supposedly “faithful” to the magisterium of the Catholic Church are the villain (Fr. Will) and his boss, Archbishop Garrote (Bob). Bob, it appears, has only become faithful out of a sense of duty and power. So he eventually realizes that he has “lost his way,” comes to his senses at the end, and finally understands that Cry Justice wants the message to be “preached as Christ would want” it to be preached.

The other faithful priests (who are very minor characters) also seem to eventually “come to their senses,” with one firmly declaring that he was going to be joining Cry Justice.

Unfortunately, the plot, theme and story of Sacred Betrayal are presented in a one-sided manner: that Liberal Catholicism (changing the Church’s teachings) is the answer to the Catholic Church’s problems. There are no interesting arguments presented for why the characters think the Church needs to change, almost assuming that the reader not only agrees the Church should change, but understands why. I realize that this is a novel and not a theology book, but for me, it would’ve been a more interesting read if there had been some stimulating discussion between characters or if there was a least one protagonist or main character that was a faithful Catholic and did not join Cry Justice.

A warning to parents: this novel could confuse teenagers and young adults because of the message that the Catholic Church should change its 2000 year teachings and traditions.

As the author of two Catholic novels, I understand how much effort goes into writing a book like this. The author has a good basic writing style, but some of her characters are one-dimensional and there is a lot of telling rather than showing. Although there is a great deal of potential in the story and characters, it falls short in most respects.

copyright 2010 Ellen Gable Hrkach

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