Synopses & Reviews
The revealing New York Times bestseller examines the reign of Pope Benedict, the papal conclave, and the history of one of the world's oldest and most mysterious institutions.
For more than twenty-five 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 readers 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 any readers interested in international diplomacy and the role of religion in an increasingly secularized world.
"Vatican Diaries is a must-read for anyone interested in the Vatican's role in the Catholic Church and the world.
Thomas J. Reese, S.J.
"The Vatican Diaries by John Thavis provides us with an intriguing and much needed antidote to one of the most common problems affecting many Catholics and non-Catholics who look at the Vatican these days: the assumption of the cold ruthlessness of the 'machine.' Thavis shows us also the deeply human side of the Vatican, the last Empire and the last, great theater of the sacred in Western Christianity."
Massimo Faggioli, University of St. Thomas
"An American Catholic who has done his homework, learned Latin and Italian, made friends in high places, found his way for thirty years in the maze of Church bureaucracy, gives us a humane and realistic and (yes) humorous picture of a mortal institution that guides hundreds of millions of mortals along the path from birth to death and beyond. To an old Prot like me, it's a tour of alien terrain and a bridge to old and dear friends." Garrison Keillor
"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
About the Author
John Thavis recently retired as the prizewinning Rome bureau chief of Catholic News Service, a position he had held since 1983. In 2007 the Catholic Press Association awarded him the St. Francis de Sales Award, the highest honor given by the Catholic press. He lives in Bemidji, Minnesota.