BISHOP ATHANASIUS DONOVAN
Bishop Athanasius Donovan sat at his office desk with a folder of letters and articles. It was a cold dreary day but his housekeeper, Mary, had lit a blazing fire and had greeted him warmly upon his return to Dublin.
“There ya are, Your Grace,” she said placing the silver tray upon his private dining table. “Nothing like a return to a proper Irish breakfast. I’ve added some extra sausages and bacon.”
The breakfast had been a welcomed meal. Donovan had arrived home late and Mary had been in bed. Father John, his assistant had not come home. He usually was a good soul who could cook simple things or make sandwiches when Mary was not available. With neither Mary or Father John availabe, the Bishop gave up the idea of food and drank sufficient whiskeys to help him fall asleep.
Today, Donovan followed his daily routine: have breakfast, check his emails and letters and look at the folder that Father John prepared with added notes or suggestions. Father John was bright, but also ambitious. Donovan recognized the signs. One newspaper clipping with the headline, “A Proposal to Get Rid of the Gay Menance,” had Father John’s note attached. Student activist, comedian of ill repute, lesbian and trouble maker. No need to pay too much attention.
Donovan disagreed. He had read Rhea Connolly’s columns. Her words were thoughtful and intelligent and sometimes downright funny, but he’d read her article before deciding she was no threat. When he put the clipping down, he phoned Father John.
The door opened. The figure of Father John sharply contrasted with the stoutnand balding Bishop. Father John was a skinny, wiry individual with thick round glasses and large protruding eyes.
“Your Grace, glad to see your return. You made a fine speech at the inter-faith meeting on ‘ Preservation of the Family.”
“Yes, Father John,we have them on our side, Protestants, Jews, and Muslims.”
His Grace held up the clipping.
“That article,” Father John began, “it’s written by a student without much clout.”
“Really? I have an email from the Parish Priest of All Saints, seems Rhea rallied the students from both UCD and Trinity for a march against the government and the Church.”
“Your Grace, ninety-nine percent of her articles are political and not religious.”
“Maybe, but open today’s paper and see how Ireland received it.”
Father John opened three papers to Opinions column. He watched the expression on the Bishop’s face. It didn’t look good.”
“More for her than against,” muttered the Bishop.
The phone rang and Father John answered it.
“Really? How wonderful. That’s just great!”
The Bishop waited for Father John’s explanations.
“It’s not good, your Grace. She’s going to be a guest on ‘Ireland Laughs.’
“Ah, yes, another atheistic and hedonistic television show!”
“Father John, I want you to pop in to Oscar Wilde’s and monitor her show.”
“But, your Grace, that’s largely a homosexual audience. I could be recognised, I do get into the papers and on to the telly.”
“Good. Then, she’ll be aware that she is at a Catholic University. Find out if she has any scholarships given by Catholic organizations. Check out her family. It will be you who puts the ‘screws on her.’ Inform me, but never link me to your adventures. Understand?”
“Completely, your Grace.