The Perils of Passion is an intriguing story of a plan to combine two vocations in one, but within an institution hostile to any such idea. What then is described is a conflict of loyalties: obedience to a personal need fulfilled ultimately in marriage and equivalent obedience to the Catholic Church.
The writer's gift in relation to the priesthood is clearly a capacity to make relationships and create community. Thus the book is a personal and sincere account of how this was ultimately achieved - even though the way to this end is always complicated, occasionally morally ambigious and may be sometimes a little dishonourable. Nevertheless the sense of mission and the depth of commitment are clear and reflects urgently on the turbulent times of change we are in.
This is a story honestly told, an interesting and often amusing insight into the life of a priest. It is a statement about choice, about loyalties and values, failure and ultimate success; a reflection on the perennial question of who we are and why we are here.
This remarkable book, which I was lucky enough to read and comment on as it was written, reveals a person and a life worth knowing about - an individual who is genuine, complex, sometimes very brave and always profoundly Christian; someone capable then of being earnestly personal, spiritual, social and political.
The book is replete with illustrations of these facets of the author's character: the love of family and friends; the support for the less well-off and vulnerable; the struggle with priestly vows; the coming to terms with a Catholic Church that does not always explicitly manifest strongly appropriate versions of charity; the efforts to define Christian commitment through educational work; the challenges of charitable work and associated fund-raising; the facing-down of tyranny; and the graceful acceptance of life as a gift.
I cannot therefore imagine anyone reading this book without feeling both moved and challenged, which is why I recommend it without either qualification or hesitation.
Professor David Halpìn, Institute of Education, University of London