In the Vineyard :: February 5, 2016 :: Volume 16, Issue 3

The Black Wall of Silence:
A Synopsis [Continued]

By Bill Casey

The search for truth and intimacy is at the heart of the novel, and it illuminates a struggle for the soul of the Catholic Church, which is being torn apart by the sexual abuse scandals. It also shows readers the link between the cover up of sexual abuse and the closet where its gay priests must hide if they wish to serve in the church.

While working as a chaplain in Riker’s Island Jail in New York, Fr. Zack learns from an inmate’s confession that the priest the inmate is accused of murdering had sexually abused the young man as a teenager. The chaplain discovers that his friend, who is now a bishop, was the one who reassigned the priest after his first abuse, and that he subsequently went on to abuse others.

The battle between the priest and the bishop, who is intent on hiding this cover-up and defending the Church, drives the plot to its courtroom climax. Loyalty or honesty—which will prevail?
Intensifying this conflict is the internal struggle of the gay priest-chaplain, who loves the Church even while it teaches him to hide his orientation and rewards him for his silence. Will he ultimately testify in court to support the inmate? Or, as a gay priest, will he be blackmailed into silence and even forced out of the priesthood if he speaks out and implicates his bishop-friend?
This is also the story of a man, a man in a Roman collar who should feel welcomed into the bosom of a loving church but instead feels more like a stranger in a strange land—searching for intimacy, sometimes unsure, but ultimately driven by his faith to be true to himself no matter what. The Black Wall of Silence mirrors what is going on in the Church today.

About the Author
Paul F. Morrissey, O.S.A., is an ordained Roman Catholic priest (48 years) who serves as a chaplain in the Philadelphia Prison System (2006 to the present).)He is the author of Let Someone Hold You: The Journey of a Hospice Priest (Crossroad, 1994), which won the Catholic Press Award and the Christopher Award. He is the editor of “Voices from Prison and the Edge,” a quarterly newsletter for prisoners, their families, and others affected by crime. His pamphlet, “Together to God: Praying the Augustinian Way,” is available in English and Spanish at His website,, aims to foster the conversation on family and sexuality issues that Pope Francis has encouraged.


Page One

Shop at Amazon, Support VOTF

VOTF relies solely on the contributions of people like you to support its work.





© Voice of the Faithful 2016. All Rights Reserved