The Color of Blood

Long, J. V.

THE CARDINAL'S VIRTUES THE COLOR OF BLOOD Brian Moore E. P. Dutton, $16.95, 182 pp. J. V. Long Since a Pole was elected pope, relations around the world between the church really,...

...There are men and women who see the cardinal as a collaborator, and who determine that he has reached accommodation with the government as a means of securing his own position and security...
...My task is to serve You...
...The Color of Blood forcefully describes Bern's fidelity to his vocation...
...As he faces his odd trials he consoles himself with disarming simplicity...
...To re-position himself in time to deflect the ill-conceived conspiracy (foreseeing the bloody disaster that would follow such an uprising) he builds an impromptu coalition that, in order to succeed, must placate the prime minister and the ubiquitous Security Police...
...Cardinal Sin, in Manila, seemed to have tacit approval, at first, to facilitate the Marcos's removal...
...The book is not long, and the story moves with deliberate speed...
...However, provided with an opportunity, he manages to foil his captors...
...He is a political realist and knows that more is to be gained for the church 634 and his country through cooperation than by resistance...
...He suffers scruples, yet he remains confident in humility...
...J. V. Long Since a Pole was elected pope, relations around the world between the church really, various local churches and totalitarian political regimes of both the left and the right have been intricate...
...In order to incite a confrontation with the government, and to reassert "the national will," a reactionary cadre of clergy and laity, led by two renegade bishops, intend to use a religious commemoration with strong nationalistic overtones as a catalyst for a call to arms...
...To suffer in Jesus' name...
...These "dissidents" manipulate any available source patriotism, anti-Communism, religion to legitimate their agenda and are prepared to employ very modern means to recover for themselves their ancient homeland...
...There is no possibility of an extreme solution here...
...But despite the intensity of the plot, Bern's character is the real focus of the novel...
...Cardinal Bern embodies virtues that are barely named anymore, and his political engagements involve, not so simply, the same, shrewd practice of virtue...
...But only if we act responsibly, and at the proper time...
...The real nature of his danger doesn't occur to Bern at first...
...I have been blind to many things...
...Not only must he outmaneuver the right-wing of his own church, he must also address the government's nerves in the face of the anticipated disturbances...
...Consequently, the cardinal is kidnapped by Catholics more Catholic than, well, the cardinal...
...We can win further concessions from the government...
...Stephen Cardinal Bern is fifty-six years old and responsible for maintaining a more or less effective detente between his church and the state...
...However, pockets of radical resentment exist within his flock...
...That is the Holy Father's position, as you well know...
...In the end, he recaptures his pulpit and exerts his authority...
...Spiritually, he is an innocent...
...Thus, not only is he silenced, but such a gratuitous insult against the church would presumably fuel the ardor of rebellion...
...Moore's novel is the story of the Roman Catholic cardinalprimate in an unnamed Soviet-bloc country and the precarious balance he must manage in his renderings to Caesar and to God...
...I ask You to guide me now, to give me that strength and intelligence that I have failed to find in 635 myself...
...That is now my fate and I must give thanks for it...
...We can force them to take steps to ameliorate the conditions under which our people live...
...1 have not seen how many-sided is this world in which You have placed me in a position of trust...
...O Lord, You have chosen me for this task...
...Since Bern would never sanction such an effort, and indeed could thwart it, he must be removed from the scene temporarily and in such a way that it seems as if the government is detaining him...
...In making his escape variously by hiding and journeying forward, by depending for help upon both allies and adversaries, he becomes aware of the complexities of the plots in which he is enmeshed...
...The association with Poland is apposite, as Mr...
...He understands it, finally, as an extension of his priesthood...
...being picked up by Security Police is capricious but not unprecedented...
...Though squalor and injustice remain, he realizes that "this misery is now less prevalent than in those days we speak of with false nostalgia...
...And Josef Glemp's voice in Warsaw, echoing the Vatican, continues to prod what Brian Moore refers to as The Power in his new book, The Color of Blood...
...My intellect is weak...
...Different factions of the Nicaraguan church appear to offer support to each side in the Sandinista revolution...

Vol. 114 • November 1987 • No. 19


 
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