A revealing inside look at one of the world’s most powerful and mysterious institutions
For more than 25 years John Thavis held one of the most fascinating journalistic jobs in the world: reporting on the inner workings of the Vatican. His daily exposure to the power, politics, and personalities in the seat of Roman Catholicism gave him a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective on an institution that is far less monolithic and unified than it first appears. Thavis reveals Vatican City as a place where Curia cardinals fight private wars, scandals threaten to undermine papal authority, and reverence for the past is continually upended by the practical considerations of modern life.
Thavis takes listeners from a bell tower high above St. Peter’s to the depths of the basilica and the saint’s burial place, from the politicking surrounding the election of a new pope and the ever-growing sexual abuse scandals around the world to controversies about the Vatican’s stand on contraception and more.
Perceptive, sharply written, and witty, The Vatican Diaries will appeal not only to Catholics - lapsed as well as devout - but to anyone interested in international diplomacy and the role of religion in an increasingly secularized world.
©2013 John Thavis (P)2013 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
"A seasoned reporter on the Vatican beat takes us for an irreverent and revealing visit. Frequently from the vantage of the reportorial fly on the wall, Thavis…concentrates on the history he has witnessed firsthand.… Especially provocative are the chapters dealing with the mismanagement of diverse sex scandals and, finally, an appraisal of the opaque personality of Benedict.… Not only provocative, this report is illuminating and fully accessible to members of the faith and doubters alike." (Kirkus Reviews)
"Thavis’ anecdotal presentation will appeal to readers seeking understanding of or connection with the Catholic Church’s heart. This book is recommended for anyone who would like to challenge their own notions and perceptions of the Vatican." (Library Journal)
Linda in Omaha
I found this book faciniating. It is a report of the inner workings of the Vatican including the homesexual, child abuse, and financial problems the Church faces. The author neither praises nor condems the actions taking place in the hierarchy of the Vatican. The book is rich in the histrory of the Catholic Church and of recent popes. I learned a lot.
I appreciated that the author did not appear to have an "agenda" regarding the Vatican. The tone was neutral. I would recommend this book highly.
One of the most concise, cogent audiobooks I've listened to.
Highlighted as it was by Audible, just after the news of Pope Benedict's abdication, this was especially relevant. Although published months before the Pope's announcement, "The Vatican Diaries" sheds much light on the Benedict's papacy and the likely true reasons behind his historical resignation. Had I listened to this earlier, it wouldn't have come as a surprise when it happened.
The stories John Thavis relates are sometimes comic, sometimes tragic, always incredible. Time and again I found myself hitting the 30 seconds back button thinking, "I must not have heard that right - it couldn't be." Every time I had heard it right and I was simply incredulous.
Malcolm Hilgartner's performance is a masterpiece of subtly. With slight inflections and just the right amount of accent, he slips smoothly between the author's narration and the many other characters we encounter - from Popes and Cardinals to reporters and "bell ringers." He makes this book come alive.
As a Roman Catholic at times I was upset by Thavis's frank and honest recording of events. Bust as they say,"Sometimes the truth hurts."
This is "must listening" for Roman Catholics and others who want to understand the forces at work inside that Vatican and the Church. It provides a foundation for understanding what Pope Francis is now doing and why. As events unfold in Rome I am sure I will be re-listening to various chapters to put it all in context.
Husband, Dad, Principal, Adjunct prof, RC Deacon, radio co-host, story teller, NYer, walker, & occasional sipper of fine whisk(e)y,
Enjoy the jaunt through Vatican City. Clearly Thavis is a friend of the Church, but isn't afraid to show some of the less than admirable underbelly of the Vatican
I haven't read the print version - that's why I listen to Audiobooks - to listen to books I don't have time to read. . . "too many books/too little time!"
Not that I recall - but I will add him to my list of good narrators.
After listening to the first few minutes of this book I was a little concerned with both the narration and the story, which I feared was going to be dull and monotone.But within 5 or 10 minutes I was really surprised. It quickly turned into an unbelievably entertaining listen - containing a perfect blend of drama and humour - and it was very well read. For someone who doesn't know much about the Roman Catholic church, the Pope or the Vatican, but keeps tabs on the news, it was just a very interesting and entertaining look at the workings and stories that make the Vatican so interesting to people in no way affiliated with the Catholic church; and it was done so in an educated-reality-TV-cum-PBS-documentary sort of a way. Finally, to me the narrator, can make or break an audiobook; and in this instance he really contributed to an entertaining listen.
Malcolm has truly captured my attention, the book is well narrated, he brings to life the chronicles that John Thavis writes about and as a born Catholic it is an eye opener to the one Pope that I truly admired, but it also brings home that those who govern our religion are truly only men and with that comes their strengths and faults.
This is not a book that extols the virtues of Catholicism or the wonderful works of Catholic charitable organizations. It focuses on how the Vatican operated during the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI from a reporters point of view. In that light, it is an interesting and very timely read for anyone who is interested in the behind the scenes workings of the Vatican. The author presents a balanced point of view and projects thoughtfulness as well as critical analysis of a number of high profile issues that have cast doubt and suspicion upon the Catholic Church in recent years. While he doesn't delve into every recent high profile scandal, he does report on some that are well known and others that are not so well known. Definitely worth the time if you're fascinated by church politics. The timing of the release of this book, just as Benedict announced his retirement and before the election of Francis, made it a most timely read.
This behind-the-scene's view of the Vatican is at times at times tedious, and at times intriguiging. Overall it is informative and very interesting. The portraits of the last two popes is most insightful.For those following the the conclave it is well worth listening to.
Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy
I had expected a bit more on the current crisis the Vatican is facing, that of priests as molesters. While it was addressed on a limited basis, after reflection, I realized that it would be extremely difficult for any author to really know the extent and ins and outs of this apparently longstanding problem due to various obvious issues.
That being said, I very much enjoyed this listen. I never thought much about the politics of the Vatican or the encompassing power struggles going on in the Church at any time. This book was quite an eye opener for me and interesting all the way through. It addresses many current issues in a neutral, non-biased fashion.
Hillgartner does an excellent narration. Over all, I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the workings and politics of the Vatican.
The vignettes should at the very least have been ordered chronologically. Also, the book would have benefited from glosses for the specialized vocabulary items (at least when an item appeared for the first time); as it is, it felt like the author was more intent on showing off rather than showing the reader around.
The Latin teacher!
No, unless the movie focused on a particular vignette, like that of the Latin teacher, who seemed absolutely fascinating. The movie would be too Altman-like otherwise--disjointed and fragmented.
Very timely book!
I found the content quite interesting, especially considering I was listening to it simultaneously while the new Pope was chosen. Perhaps a Catholic would have a much more relevant review, but I did find the minute details tedious at times. Overall I found the book enlightening, but not surprising, that this 'holy' group of men would be as salacious, politically-motivated, and game-playing as any other group. Men are men.
yes, especially the die-hard Catholics
not be Catholic, and to educate others
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