When Evil Enters The House of God
As soon as I read the description of Vincent Panettiere’s novel These Thy Gifts, I could easily see that I was about to begin a thrilling reading journey.
On one hand, These Thy Gifts follows a forbidden love story between a priest and the widow of a mobster, while incorporating many important, yet troubled issues of war, religion and history. On the other hand, as we go deeper into the story, we get to know more about the most turbulent historical moments of American Catholicism from the post-World War II period to the present.
We’re introduced to Monsignor Steven Trimboli who is extremely troubled with the future of the Church, and rightly so. There have been more and more reports of horrific sexual abuses, but soon enough a new crime will widespread throughout his church and hit closer to home than Trimboli could ever imagine. Father Trimboli discovers that another priest, sent by his bishop, has sexually abused a boy in the parish who happens to have a personal connection to Trimboli himself.
All of these unsettling incidents will provoke Trimboli to examine his faith, but he must also examine his own past. Panettiere masterfully takes the reader fifty years back where we meet Trimboli as a young and passionate priest. The narrative now moves in a series of flashbacks, allowing us to see Trimboli’s entire clerical history. Still young and pure–hearted, he soon finds out that his moral views tend to clash with the acts of other Church’s members. The reader follows Trimboli’s painful journey of the recognition that there are bad priests and bishops in a church in which he himself wished to fulfill his vocation to serve the people of God.
If we look closely, corruption is the main theme in Panettiere’s novel. The reader finds out just how far goes the corruption of some priests and bishops. The corruption, which Trimboli unravels, is not only of the material kind; it is also a corruption of faith, beliefs and of the most sacred moral standings.
Panettiere’s writing is not only understandable and easy to follow, but it’s also gripping in the way how the story itself uncovers corrupted elements of the Church. We can feel the anger of believers at the discovery that many members of the Catholic hierarchy are, quite simply, corrupted. That anger becomes almost palpable when it is realized that the very same members have represented themselves as moral exemplars and teachers of religious truth.
These Thy Gifts is a thrilling novel about compromised beliefs and questionable moral figures. It is a novel that will make you question everything you used to take for granted. It will certainly challenge your own faith, and put on test whether we are strong enough to take a stand against corrupted elements. These Thy Gifts is a provocative novel that will stay with you long after you finish it, but it is a novel I would highly recommend to everyone.