Andrew M. Greeley
Tom Doherty Associates,1996, 376 pp
The Pope has died and from all over the world Cardinals and journalists descend upon Rome to elect a new Pope.
Sean Cardinal Cronin, the Cardinal Archbishop of Andrew Greeley's Chicago, accompanied by his trusted aide, Bishop John Blackwood "Blackie" Ryan, jets to Rome to join his red robbed colleagues in the Conclave. Also jetting to Rome to cover the Conclave is New York Times reporter Dennis Mulloy, a somewhat cynical lapsed Catholic and, on a separate plane from Chicago, Patricia McLaughlin, a CNN reporter and ex-wife of Mulloy.
However, as the media report the solemn funeral for the late Pope and speculate on his successor, multiple currents of intrigue swirl just beneath the surface. Cardinal Cronin and Bishop "Blackie" quickly bring to the papal power struggle the same tactics and skills members of Chicago's Daley machine bring to a Democratic presidential convention. For Cardinal Cronin and other liberals in the Church the choice for next Pope is Spanish Cardinal Menendez y Garcia and Cronin immediately takes charge of the forces seeking to elect Menendez y Garcia. While Cardinal Cronin acts as leader and public spokesman for the liberal forces, Bishop "Blackie" operates quietly behind the scenes.
In addition to being the behind the scenes operator for Cardinal Cronin, Bishop Blackie also finds himself guiding and assisting the journalist Mulloy whose search for story angles uncovers evidence of both a sinister conspiracy to block the election of Menendez y Garcia at any cost and a lone fanatic intent on shooting the next pope as he is introduced to the world. Finally, there is the tangled relationship between Mulloy and his ex-wife. The Conclave has both of them in the same city covering the same story and, as their paths, constantly cross they are forced to come to terms with the personal problems from which they had previously tried to flee.
This report prepared by Chuck Nugent