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Metri, Padre. Padre Metri was created by "Jerónimo del Rey," the pseudonym of the Argentinian writer Leonardo Castellani, and appeared in nine stories in Argentinian magazines from 1934 to 1942, beginning with “El Caso de Ada Terry” (La Prensa, 1934); the stories were collected in Las Nueve Muertes del Padre Metri (1942).

Padre Metri is a Catholic priest who solves crimes. He lives and works in the Chaco region of Argentina, a lawless and wild section of the country in which injustice is the norm. Corruption is widespread and evil an accepted part of life, and while society as a whole is bad it is the authorities who act the worst, and in so doing present society with the model of what behavior to emulate. Metri works to counter this. He embodies many of the ideals of Catholicism, but is more hostile towards the authorities, who he views as the true culprits, than towards most men and women, especially those who lack economic power. Because of this he is seen as a troublemaker by the authorities, but Metri is independent and eccentric and does not care what the authorities think of him. In "La Mosca" he goes so far as to refuse to reveal to the police the identity of a murderer who felt remorseful after his crime and converted to Catholicism.

* I'm including the Padre Metri stories in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because they are well-written. It's not known to what degree, if at all, Leonardo Castellani was influenced or inspired by Chesterton's Father Brown stories--it's certainly possible that Castellani hadn't even read them when he wrote the Padre Metri stories. But a comparison between the two characters is inevitable, not least because both are Catholic priests who go out of their way to solve crimes. The Father Brown stories are better-written--Chesterton as a stylist was more talented than Castellani was--but the Padre Metri stories are better. The smugness of the Father Brown stories, the ideological straightjacket that Catholicism placed on the Brown stories, the antisemitism and class issues of the Father Brown stories--all are missing from the Padre Metri stories. Metri is as Catholic as Brown, but more human, more personally appealing; Castellani is as conservative a Catholic as Chesterton--Castellani was a Jesuit for a while and a priest for far longer--but Padre Metri's Catholicism is less High Church and more liberation theology. And the world in which Father Brown lives is more artificial and mannered than the world in which Padre Metri lives, which leads Castellani to grapple with more realistic and recognizable issues than Father Brown ever did. 

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