The Secret Cardinal


Reviews of The Secret Cardinal (1 review)

5 - Excellent Review

Reviewer:

The Secret Cardinal. By Thomas Grace. There are, at present, two countries with over 1 billion people in them: India and the People's Republic of China. Yet there is another organization--and one which often plays a role in international politics--which matches this number. I refer, of course, to the Roman Catholic church. And unbeknownst to much of the world, a conflict has been quietly continuing between the PRC and the Vatican. According to Chinese law, all religions must be registered with, and accept the authority of patriotic associations--basically a government body which tells them what they can and cannot believe. For Catholics, whose episcopal authority comes from Rome not Be Jing, this is not an option, and so an underground Catholic church, loyal to Rome, exists--and suffers persecution--in China. <p> This is the backdrop for Thomas Grace's fascinating thriller, The Secret Cardinal. It centers around one man, Bishop Yin of the underground Chinese church in BeJing, who the aging Pope Leo XIV (who bears a striking resemblance to JohnPaul II) has made a "secret cardinal". The Pope does, in actual fact, have the authority to create a cardinal and keep the name secret, particularly if the safety of said cardinal would be put in jeopardy by the announcement. Bishop Yin has been in prison for twenty years, refusing to recant his loyalty to Rome, and when Rome receives evidence that 500 underground Catholics have been cruelly murdered in order to try and make Yin recant, Pope Leo decides that the time for a prison-break is now. Through an Irish cardinal, the Pope enlists the aid of former navy seal and kinda sorta lapsed Catholic Nolan Kilkenny to make the jail break. Unfortunately, shortly after signing authorization for the operation, the Pope dies, and uncertainty as to the attitude the next Pope will take toward the rescue causes Kilkenny to dramatically shorten the time table. Grace weaves the prison break and Papal election together in a story so compelling I read it in approximately three and a half hours without stopping. The writing isn't superb, but the story is. If you like action, are interested in China, Roman Catholicism, the inner workings of the papacy or any combanation of the above, I highly recommend this book.