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The Womanpriest:
A Novel

A young Catholic woman begins to see cracks in the Church she grew up loving. Bad priests preying on children, harsh treatment of the divorced and LGBTQ, a deep-seated and toxic sexism, and archaic dogmas force Macrina McGrath to choose between leaving the Church or trying to make it better. Graduate school in theology at Georgetown and a trip to India help form her resolve: She will stop at nothing to take the Church out of the Middle Ages and deliver women from their abject status. She joins and soon heads the excommunicated Womanpriest movement and with help from the Archbishop of Boston becomes the leader of disaffected Catholics who want change. The world notices the indomitable American willing to take on the Vatican, and she achieves a spiritual stardom the equal of the pope. Where will all this lead? Meanwhile Ezra, the man she has long loved since their teaching days together at Amherst, reaches out to her one last time. She must choose between family life with him and the new Catholicism she helped create, where women and men minister on an equal basis. Her choice will lead to her election in 2080 as the first female pope. Events from that point on will reshape the Church forever.

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"In this daring and unusual story, Stafford Betty puts us not in the twentieth-century shoes of a fisherman, but in the twenty-first-century shoes of a fisherwoman named Macrina, destined to become the first female pope. He takes us on a bittersweet, breathtaking journey of self-discovery and unflinching service to the church, the world, and the One who called both into being. Along the way, Betty wrestles with more pressing and personal issues, more spiritual and secular conflicts, than would seem possible in a single book. Yet they hold together, work together, in the life of a captivating character large enough, strong enough, brave enough, to embrace them all. Her's a roller-coaster ride with ups and downs, twists and turns, that matter even more than they amuse. Take a seat, I beg you, and hold on.

~ Newton Finn, retired public interest attorney and community organizer, ordained American Baptist minister, award-winning author (Kogan certificate)

Betty uses Macrina as a means to take a spiritual journey into the religions of the world, the role of God in our lives, and the place of the Catholic Church in a world of multiple religious traditions. Through Macrina, he creates a "priest" very different from those we see in today's Catholic Church, an enlightened woman with a desire to remain deeply connected to the church even when that same church excommunicates her. The magic of this book is its success in showing her rise from condemned heretic to beloved pope in a span of 35 years.

-Sal Moretti, columnist for The Bakersfield Californian

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