Religion: The Last Harrumph

He was a thing of awe, the Catholic parish pastor—a force as redoubtable and durable as a Southern Democrat in the U.S. Senate. He was a marvelous blend of Barry Fitzgerald and Boss Tweed: irascible conscience of the stingy, puckish doer of good deeds among the neighborhood's fallen. He was absolute ruler of his realm, certain that parishioners who might doubt the Pope's infallibility would never for a minute dare question his.

That archetype will doubtless persist for a while elsewhere, but alas, he will soon be replaced by a transient imitation in one of his strongholds, New York City. The Roman...

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