24 October 2018, The Tablet

‘A city that winks at sin’

New Orleans at 300

‘A city that  winks at sin’

A Mardi Gras float featuring Mother Venerable Henriette DeLille, a candidate for sainthood, who founded the Sisters of the Holy Family in New Orleans in 1842
Photo: CNS/Clarion Herald, Peter Finney Jr


When you are raised in a town where the grown-ups wear masks and dance at Mardi Gras parades, it plants a certain optimism for the human experiment.

One autumn morning in 1992, over breakfast in Manhattan, I had just been interviewed on national television for my new book, Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children. The man picking up the tab, Doubleday’s religious publishing director Tom Cahill, said gently: “I know you have more information, but I hope for your own good that you pursue other topics.”

Trailed by thoughts along those very lines, I nodded appreciatively, but held back on sharing my fascination for jazz funerals. 

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