It is the story-teller's task to elicit sympathy and a measure of understanding for those who lie outside the boundaries of State Approval.
One day I gave The Power and the Glory to... a native of Mexico who had lived through the worst persecutions... She confessed that your descriptions were so vivid, your priest so real, that she found herself praying for him at Mass. I understand how she felt. Last year, on a trip through Mexico, I found myself peering into mud huts, through village streets, and across impassible mountain ranges, half-believing that I would glimpse a dim figure stumbling in the rain on his way to the border. There is no greater tribute possible to your creation of this character - he lives.
An excerpt from the letter of Californian Catholic teacher to Graham Greene, 1960
In a particular Mexican state the Church had been outlawed and the priests had to go underground by the threat of being shot.
After several months from the governor's office appeared a news, that there was still one priest, Father Montez, who was moving from village to village working on the Church by administering the sacraments, listening confessions and saying masses. A young lieutenant of police, and ardent revolutionist and an anti-clerical, asked his chief to let him search for the priest who, as the authorities understood it, was guilty of treason.
Two photographs were pasted up together in police station. One was the picture of an American bank robber who killed several police officers in Texas; the other was that of the priest. No one noticed the irony, including the young lieutenant, who was more interested in arresting the priest. When the officer received permission to look for Father Montez, the priest was already in the village, where...