Customer Reviews for

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

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

13 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

A must read

There is no time like the present to read this book. Thank you John Thavis for having the courage to write this book, and thank God I am Orthodox! This is an eye opener, and yet some how one can keep hope that the Vatican can be cleaned out. It is sad to have such fi...
There is no time like the present to read this book. Thank you John Thavis for having the courage to write this book, and thank God I am Orthodox! This is an eye opener, and yet some how one can keep hope that the Vatican can be cleaned out. It is sad to have such filth in a beautiful place. I love Rome and had the awesome privelage to meet John Paul II when he was well. I now wonder how much the top officals did to keep him alive and who really was in charge. So many questions, and so much doubt! Let us pray that the Vatican gets it right this time and save the church of millions.

posted by 6403480 on March 6, 2013

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Most Helpful Critical Review

3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

The Vatican Diaries by John Thavis This is the product of many

The Vatican Diaries by John Thavis

This is the product of many years of journalism by its author who narrates the story in the first person. It covers some trivial moments - as to who tolls the bells at St. Peter when Benedict is elected, or Benedict's poor press perso...
The Vatican Diaries by John Thavis

This is the product of many years of journalism by its author who narrates the story in the first person. It covers some trivial moments - as to who tolls the bells at St. Peter when Benedict is elected, or Benedict's poor press persona - to more serious themes - as to the scandals involving Fr. Marcial Maciel sexual misconducts, the Bishop Lefebvre reintroduction to the Church, and the Church's positions on condoms and homosexuality.

Each chapter deals with a topic and the book has ten chapters.

Chapter one is all about the bells at St. Peter and how they were supposed to be used to announced the election of Benedict. However, due to a communication mishap, they almost did not toll at all...

Chapter two is about comparing the press persona of Benedict - boring - vs. that of John Paul II's charismatic.

Chapter three is about the sexual scandal that the founder of the Legions of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel and how it was tolerated up by John Paul II because the legionaries were producing so many new priests and bringing in lots of money - to the point that it almost derailed John Paul II's beatification.

Chapter four is about building a parking structure at the Vatican and how a 2nd century Christian burial place was uncovered - thus slowing the construction.

Chapter five is about the fiasco of having Bishop Lefebvre return to the Church, after one of his supporters, Bishop Richard Williamson, publicly declares that the Holocaust never happened.

Chapter six is about Father Reginald Foster, the Vatican's picturesque Latinist - who would tell anyone who would listen all the wrongs in the Church.

Chapter seven is about the controversy of declaring Pope Pius XII a saint and the beatification procedure.

Chapter eight is about the Vatican's dress code.

Chapter nine is about condoms and gays in the Church.

Chapter ten is about Benedict.

The book is an easy read and it was written for an American audience. The chapter on Marcial Maciel (third chapter) was probably the only one I would recommend to anyone else to read. The rest of the chapters were trivial (chapters 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10), or too biased chapters 5, 7, and 9. Mr. Thavis has a soft spot for Benedict and goes to extremes to protect him almost making a case that the pope is on the right side of history on topics such as condoms, homosexuals, and beatification.

Even when Mr. Thavis proclaims that the Vatican culture on homosexuals is "Si non caste, saltem caute, If not chaste, at least with caution," he still goes on to defend the pope because he had declared homosexuals not fit to be priests. And he also gets into semantics about the church official position on condoms, trying hard to paint a rosier picture. For that reason I only gave his three stars....

posted by carlosmock on June 5, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    A must read

    There is no time like the present to read this book. Thank you John Thavis for having the courage to write this book, and thank God I am Orthodox! This is an eye opener, and yet some how one can keep hope that the Vatican can be cleaned out. It is sad to have such filth in a beautiful place. I love Rome and had the awesome privelage to meet John Paul II when he was well. I now wonder how much the top officals did to keep him alive and who really was in charge. So many questions, and so much doubt! Let us pray that the Vatican gets it right this time and save the church of millions.

    13 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2013

    Great book!! Reads exceptionally well, and is revealing and insi

    Great book!! Reads exceptionally well, and is revealing and insightful. I recommend this to anybody who wishes to learn more about the inner workings of the Vatican!

    11 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    Great read. Interesting and informative. Hard to put down which

    Great read. Interesting and informative. Hard to put down which often isn't the case with non-fiction.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 12, 2013

    It's not quite what I was expecting, but worth the read regardle

    It's not quite what I was expecting, but worth the read regardless.  It's not an exposé or an insider's view of the machinations of the Vatican, but rather like listening to a guy at a bar telling stories about the people he's met and the places he's been.  Fascinating stories, told engagingly, with humor, good grace, panache, and, generally, affection for his subjects.  In short, I'd like to meet him in a bar and listen some more.  Maybe ask a "But wait a minute" or two a certain points.  But I'd buy the beers.

    If you want an interesting if "fictional" read, try "Vatican" by Malachi Martin.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2013

    What a terrific book to pick up ahead of the conclave! This is a

    What a terrific book to pick up ahead of the conclave! This is a wonderful behind-the-scenes look at the Vatican and how it functions from
    a respected journalist. It's especially refreshing - lucid, well-reported, even funny - amid all the breathless, often misinformed
    commentary these days in the wake of the pope's resignation. 

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 5, 2013

    Fascinating insights of the last three popes...

    Just as Pope Benedict was being chosen, the Vatican Diaries arrives. I flew through it enjoying every minute of it. My husband has it now. Informative as to the intrigue, cliques, decision-making process at work in the Vatican. Reveals how pervasive the personality of each Pope is to the conduct of the Vatican work. Well-written by a writer close to the subject.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2013

     The Vatican Diaries is an excellent book for understanding the

     The Vatican Diaries is an excellent book for understanding the place and relationship of the Catholic Church in today's world. John Thavis is a clear, concise writer who doesn't lack a sense of humor. This book is also good for a behind the scenes look at  how the Vatican operates and some feel for what Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict were really like. It also addresses the  problems of  the church and shows what a massive job Pope Francis has before him. He may be the one who can steer the church into a better course. I'm really glad I bought this book and read it and can add it to my permanent library.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 5, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Vatican Diaries by John Thavis This is the product of many

    The Vatican Diaries by John Thavis

    This is the product of many years of journalism by its author who narrates the story in the first person. It covers some trivial moments - as to who tolls the bells at St. Peter when Benedict is elected, or Benedict's poor press persona - to more serious themes - as to the scandals involving Fr. Marcial Maciel sexual misconducts, the Bishop Lefebvre reintroduction to the Church, and the Church's positions on condoms and homosexuality.

    Each chapter deals with a topic and the book has ten chapters.

    Chapter one is all about the bells at St. Peter and how they were supposed to be used to announced the election of Benedict. However, due to a communication mishap, they almost did not toll at all...

    Chapter two is about comparing the press persona of Benedict - boring - vs. that of John Paul II's charismatic.

    Chapter three is about the sexual scandal that the founder of the Legions of Christ, Father Marcial Maciel and how it was tolerated up by John Paul II because the legionaries were producing so many new priests and bringing in lots of money - to the point that it almost derailed John Paul II's beatification.

    Chapter four is about building a parking structure at the Vatican and how a 2nd century Christian burial place was uncovered - thus slowing the construction.

    Chapter five is about the fiasco of having Bishop Lefebvre return to the Church, after one of his supporters, Bishop Richard Williamson, publicly declares that the Holocaust never happened.

    Chapter six is about Father Reginald Foster, the Vatican's picturesque Latinist - who would tell anyone who would listen all the wrongs in the Church.

    Chapter seven is about the controversy of declaring Pope Pius XII a saint and the beatification procedure.

    Chapter eight is about the Vatican's dress code.

    Chapter nine is about condoms and gays in the Church.

    Chapter ten is about Benedict.

    The book is an easy read and it was written for an American audience. The chapter on Marcial Maciel (third chapter) was probably the only one I would recommend to anyone else to read. The rest of the chapters were trivial (chapters 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10), or too biased chapters 5, 7, and 9. Mr. Thavis has a soft spot for Benedict and goes to extremes to protect him almost making a case that the pope is on the right side of history on topics such as condoms, homosexuals, and beatification.

    Even when Mr. Thavis proclaims that the Vatican culture on homosexuals is "Si non caste, saltem caute, If not chaste, at least with caution," he still goes on to defend the pope because he had declared homosexuals not fit to be priests. And he also gets into semantics about the church official position on condoms, trying hard to paint a rosier picture. For that reason I only gave his three stars....

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 4, 2013

    Great read, easy, and light

    Great read- but I would have liked more detail into the papacy itself, specifics on what their life is really like.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent

    Wonderful; true story of life behind the walls of the Vatican.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 30, 2013

    quite interesting

    Engrossing and a fun read, though a bit lightweight

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2013

    Expected more

    some interesting insights
    then it gets mired in priest sex abuse scandals
    more short stories than any behind the scenes disclosures

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    Interesting read!

    very interesting read for someone interested in hisotry

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2013

    The Vatican Diaries

    This book gives easy to understand information on the inner workings of the Vatican. The humanized perspective of John Thavis made the Vatican more of a reality than the religious and glamorous vision projected. Many details of the Bishops Conclave and the election of our new Pope would have been missed if not for this book. In the coming days we will be hearing more and more about the Vatican. I highly recommend "The Vatican Diaries" to anyone interested in the Catholic Church and the reign of Pope Francis the First.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 20, 2013

    Interesting reading

    Interesting reading on the current operations of the Catholic Church.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2013

    I found this to be a fascinating hard-to-put-down page turner. T

    I found this to be a fascinating hard-to-put-down page turner. The author, a journalist, writes what he has seen and found, without judging or condemning. This book is a must also for history buffs!
    Highly recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2013

    Interesting book

    A good above average read but not at the level of a great read. Most chapters were interesting, some more than others. Yet, what was missing, at least to me, was the lack of a coherent theme that tied it all together. More like a series of topics put in book form. If you know nothing or little about the Vatican, than this is a good start.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2013

    Would not recommend

    This book was a real disappointment.The author starts off great by giving a general overview of the papacy and then stops.The remainder of the book is a self serving tale of his limited ex perience with contacts through a third party. This could have been an interesting subject for a book but falls flat.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2013

    Highly recommend

    Fascinating discussion of the Vatican. I wish the book continued through the abdication of Benedict and election of Francis.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2013

    Highly Recommend it.

    Iam in the process of reading The Vatican Diaries now. So far I have found it interesting and enlightening.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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