Title: Only Say the Word
Author: Scott D. Pomfret
Publisher: NineStar Press
Length: 343 Pages
At a Glance: I was absolutely blown away by this novel.
Reviewed By: Maryann
Blurb: Can a man be Catholic and gay and still true to himself and his lover?
Colm Flaherty sets out to do it. Rejoining the Church after long estrangement, Colm discovers a gift for speaking at Mass that puts wounded people at peace. Miracles and visions abound. Colm is hailed as a “gay saint.”
But even as Colm brings peace to the parish, gritty Boston grows uglier: The Commonwealth is rocked by violent political division over gay marriage, his relationship with his older atheist boyfriend is undermined by devotion to a Church that devalues their love, the archbishop wants to sell the Franciscan chapel to the highest bidder, and there’s an abused former altar boy out there who has determined that he can win redemption by assassinating Colm in the midst of Mass.
After Colm is shot in the pews, all Boston’s tensions comes to a boil, and extremists of every kind clash. His would-be assassin escapes, the archbishop and mayor only contribute to the culture wars, and Colm’s ex-boyfriend is torn between his grieving for his catastrophically injured lover and his commitment to gay liberation. When would-be assassin makes an attempt to finish Colm off, only a single disgraced priest has any chance of preserving Colm’s life.
Review: Scott D. Pomfret’s Only Say the Word was a first time read of this author for me, and I was absolutely blown away by this novel. The story takes place in Boston, and it surrounds the Catholic Diocese and the turmoil of pedophilia and the cover-ups that have caused havoc within the church. It also deals with bigotry, the harassment of gays, as well as politicians and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church looking for ways to bring more money to the religion, no matter who it hurts. The events in each characters’ lives take us to various years—from 2000 until June of 2004.
Johnny “Jack” Flavey is a priest at St. Anthony’s. As a young man he took the fall for a crime, served time in prison and then decided to turn his life around. Father Jack believes in taking his ministry to the streets at night. He honestly believes in helping the homeless, the ex-cons and those who have fallen on hard times. He feels guilty when he realizes he didn’t listen to two important confessions, and everything seems to become an uphill battle for him. And, eventually, Father Jack becomes a victim.
Colm Flaherty is a lawyer. He was drawn to St. Anthony’s, where Sister Mary Donovan selects him to participate in the washing of the feet. He gets involved in the lay ministry, reading scripture at the masses, and it draws more and more people into the church. Colm knows it’s not a good idea since he is a gay man in a religion that does not accept him. The congregation grows and everyone has their own experience with Colm’s readings. He brings something beautiful to each individual, and even those who don’t recognize him want something from him. When Colm is exposed as being gay, then he becomes a victim of the religion.
Even though there is an abundance of characters, and all play a part in this tragedy, Father Jack and Colm Flaherty were the two characters I grew most concerned over. They both seemed to know what they had gotten involved in with the church, but they couldn’t walk away. This novel is very different and deals with some disturbing events, and I couldn’t put it down. Only Say the Word has no HEA. It’s a tragic story because so many people suffer in different ways, and it raised many issues for me; how people are still trying to deny the right to same sex marriage and the way homosexuality is used as a scapegoat so people will focus their attention away from the pedophilia issues, and what happens when a person is a victim of a pedophile.
You can buy Only Say the Word here: