The Bishop's Curse

The Bishop's Curse

Kobo ebook | March 9, 2014

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The Bishop's Curse--A Synopsis (102,750 words) While the nation teetered on the brink of Civil War in 1860, another albeit smaller rebellion had broken into the open in the little town of Carthage, NY. The Church squabble seemed insignificant except to the mid-19th Century Irish immigrants of St. James Parish. For them it was a life-changing event they believed put them in danger of losing their very souls. The devout Irish Catholic Richard Gallagher came to America at the age of seven on an infamous "coffin ship" and subsequently sought his fortune in Carthage, NY. Gallagher succeeded beyond his modest expectations in the predominantly Protestant Yankee environment. He became a leader in the affairs of St. James Church, only the fourth Catholic Church established in the state, and whose rolls were dominated by Irish immigrant farmers. As a church trustee and community leader, Gallagher headed a drive for the appointment of a permanent priest to better serve St. James parish, one of a dozen churches in a mission district of 30 mile radius. This action set him on a collision course with his Church--his priest and his bishop. The infrequency of services gave "keeping holy the Sabbath" a whole different meaning. A letter writing campaign to their bishop, was met with indifference and insistence that parishioners should focus on obedience to the dictates of their Church. Gallagher led a drive to have a former resident shoemaker-cum priest appointed to St. James--thinking he would be the long sought "priest of their own." The new pastor turned out to be a stiff-backed, unyielding misogynist who felt it his duty to bend the wills of his former townsmen to him and his Church. The situation rapidly degenerated and became a battle of wills. The priest retaliated by denying sacraments to the people who didn't have money to pay for them; neglected instruction of the children in the rubrics of their religion; and even boycotted his own church by staying away for long periods. The priest regularly denounced his enemies from the pulpit, albeit anonymously. He dismissed his Gallagher's wife as the head of the Altar & Rosary Society because a "pregnant woman" couldn't (or shouldn't) perform the requisite duties. The bishop stood solidly behind his priest—mainly because he saw the lay trustee system as an instrument of the Protestant Reformation. Laws governing the organization of religious societies were anathema to the Roman Church, and the hierarchical Catholic clergy were loath to cede any authority to the laity or governmental dictates of any kind. Years of infighting, letter exchanges, and "hard language" finally culminated in a knockdown drag out fistfight in the church. The rebel forces drove the priest from the altar and his allies from the church, which was then taken over by the rebellious trustees. Excommunications followed as the bishop ominously warned that great "calamities would befall" the dissidents. Events that followed, including fires and an earthquake, led people believe that the bishop had indeed laid a curse on the congregation. There is a great deal of drama in the story including premature death of Gallagher's first wife, the hiring of a bogus priest, Gallagher's second marriage (in a Protestant Church) to his children's music teacher (23 years his junior), vituperative letter exchanges, lawsuits between clergy and laity, and finally a reluctant reconciliation with the vindictive Bishop John McCloskey (who ultimately became the first American cardinal of the Roman Church). An epilog catalogs the lives of each of the characters who played significant roles in the story and how the "curse" affected them. Thematically the tale illustrates how blind faith in revered institutions is often misplaced, especially when material gain co-opts spiritual concerns. Indeed the angel often turns out to be the devil and vice-versa.<
Title:The Bishop's CurseFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:March 9, 2014Publisher:Raff EllisLanguage:English

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