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The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church [Hardcover]

John Thavis
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-The-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church 3.7 out of 5 stars (12)
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Book Description

21 Feb 2013

The Vatican Diaries is an inside look at one of the world's most powerful and mysterious institutions, by John Thavis.

'A humane and realistic and (yes) humorous picture of a mortal institution. To an old Prot like me, it's a tour of alien terrain and a bridge to old and dear friends' Garrison Keillor

For thirty years John Thavis worked for the Catholic News Service in Rome and reported on the inner workings of the Vatican. The Vatican Diaries is his insightful and often very funny account of exactly what goes on in this unique and secretive institution. It's a place where cardinals fight private wars, scandals are constantly threatening to undermine papal authority, and reverence for the past comes up painfully against the considerations of modern life.

He describes the politics surrounding the election of a new pope and the beatification of an old one, the angst of dealing with the international issue of sexual abuse, the intricacies of arranging a Papal visit to India, the conflicts involved in trying to build a car park over an ancient Roman burial site - and above all the unfathomable personality of the conservative Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope to resign for 600 years. At this extraordinary moment of crisis in the Church, Thavis's account of its inner workings is invaluable.

'One closes John Thavis' perceptive study reflecting on the Vatican's challenge: to persist in a secularizing world sometimes fascinated by the pomp and pageantry of St. Peter's-but often hostile or increasingly indifferent to the Church's determined mission to harmonize warring factions and bickering enemies, even if both are on the same Catholic side' New York Journal of Books

John Thavis recently retired as the prizewinning chief of the Rome bureau of Catholic News Service, where he had covered the Vatican since 1983. He is the past president of the International Association of Journalists Accredited to the Vatican, and in 2007 the Catholic Press Association awarded him the Saint Francis de Sales Award, the highest honour given by the Catholic press. He divides his time between Minnesota and Rome.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 321 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Books; 1 edition (21 Feb 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670026719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670026715
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.2 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 639,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

In this highly readable memoir of being a journalist at the Vatican, John Thavis follows the conclaves, sex scandals, internal backstabbing and olympian nature of the popes with a sense of comic relief at the caravan passing through his viewfinder (Jason Berry, author of Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church)

One closes John Thavis' perceptive study reflecting on the Vatican's challenge: to persist in a secularizing world sometimes fascinated by the pomp and pageantry of St. Peter's-but often hostile or increasingly indifferent to the Church's determined mission to harmonize warring factions and bickering enemies, even if both are on the same Catholic side (New York Journal of Books)

Not only provocative, this report is illuminating and fully accessible to members of the faith and doubters alike (Kirkus Reviews) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

John Thavis recently retired as the prizewinning chief of the Rome bureau of Catholic News Service, where he had covered the Vatican since 1983. He is the past president of the International Association of Journalists Accredited to the Vatican, and in 2007 the Catholic Press Association awarded him the Saint Francis de Sales Award, the highest honour given by the Catholic press. He divides his time between Minnesota and Rome. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "...as it really is." 7 Mar 2013
By Packard
Format:Hardcover
.
This work takes one from the whispers of Vatileaks to the thunder of pedophile priests, from what is going on in the crypt beneath St. Peter's to the politicking that goes on when a pope is elected in the Sistine Chapel, from the secrecy of the ballots to the color of the smoke, from the tiniest crack in the aging crust of St. Peter's to the most pristine diamond in a papal tiara, from the elevator operators - janitors - guards - bell ringers to the top brass involved in shady deals in the Vatican Museum and the Vatican Bank, from the Vatican flophouses to its palatial palaces, from the deafening clamor of ancient bells to the faint papal tapping on Twitter, from a common priest who would say mass in the nude to a pope whose attire drew the comment from the British Queen, `too effeminate for my everyday tastes and far too elegant for royal affairs.'

Above all one is reminded that the Sovereign State of the Vatican--like all states--is a political one. Gone are the days when they elected the `holiest' man to the papacy. Today the primary quality of `Your Holiness' is `political acumen;' it has very little to do with the word `holy.' Consider the pedophile cover-ups that exploded in the press thirty years ago.

John Paul II never did much more than to lift a finger to control them. In fact, his inaction did all but condone them--pays-offs of victims persisted into this century. Yet--a political giant--he was able to keep the matter relatively in check for more than a quarter century. Benedict comes along and takes the bull by the horns and enacts strict policies to bring them to an end. Yet, unable to politically control the mess he bears the brunt of the blame. When canonized, the widely traveled Polish Pope will be remembered as `The Beloved Saint of All.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly interesting 15 Jun 2013
By Anne DH
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This was a very detailed and interesting book about life in the vatican. It was well written and easy to read, and it wasn't too heavy on religion. At times very funny.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read 4 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It was a very objective view of the inner workings of the Vatican from a secular point of view. I enjoyed it
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Vatican Diaries 5 May 2013
By Vic
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I normally avoid non-fiction as I worry it'll be dry, and while parts of this book dragged around the middle, over all it was a lot of fun reading about the various personalities inside the Vatican. It samples people from all areas of the Vatican, not just your usual suspects. From bored Swiss Guards to fiery Latin translators, from crusading nuns to cautious bell ringers - it pulled a lot of chuckles out of me and allowed me to see a different point of view for lots of issues I'd only glanced at on the news. I also learned far more about the Vatican than 13 years at a convent run school ever taught me.

I enjoyed the heck out of this book and I'd happily recommend it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Lively but strangely irritating 11 Jun 2014
Format:Paperback
Strangely irritating book. Lively and a very entertaining read, but the writer does seem uncritically and without self-awareness, to assume that the Pope should be driven by what serves up well to the media, rather than there might be something wrong with a pack which consistently gets the message wrong, over-simplifies, prefers a good headline to truthfulness etc. Also, for someone who has lived in Italy for many years, and travelled widely, he does rather take it for granted that everyone should be excited about what he thinks Minnesota wants to hear about.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Anecdotal 1 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was hoping for something a little more analytical but this book was extremely anecdotal. While the stories or incidents themselves were of interest, it was difficult to perceive a development in the telling and a string of anecdotes becomes a little boring after a while.
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