Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church

Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church

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by Jason Berry

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The Sunday collection in every Catholic church throughout the world is as familiar a part of the Mass as the homily and even Communion. There is no doubt that historically the Catholic Church has been one of…  See more details below



The Sunday collection in every Catholic church throughout the world is as familiar a part of the Mass as the homily and even Communion. There is no doubt that historically the Catholic Church has been one of the great engines of charity in history. But once a dollar is dropped in that basket, where does it go? How are weekly cash contributions that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars accounted for? Where does the money go when a diocese sells a church property for tens of millions of dollars? And what happens when hundreds of millions of dollars are turned over to officials at the highest ranks, no questions asked, for their discretionary use? The Roman Catholic Church is the largest organization in the world. The Vatican has never revealed its net worth, but the value of its works of art, great churches, property in Rome, and stocks held through its bank easily run into the tens of billions. Yet the Holy See as a sovereign state covers a mere 108 acres and has a small annual budget of about $280 million.

No major book has examined the church’s financial underpinnings and practices with such journalistic force. Today the church bears scrutiny by virtue of the vast amounts of money (nearly $2 billion in the United States alone) paid out to victims of clergy abuse. Amid mounting diocesan bankruptcies, bishops have been selling off whole pieces of the infrastructure—churches, schools, commercial properties—while the nephew of one of the Vatican’s most powerful cardinals engaged in a lucrative scheme to profiteer off the enormous downsizing of American church wealth.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The money changers aren't just running the temple, they're planning to sell it off to cover molestation lawsuits, according to this scattershot exposé. Investigative journalist Berry (Vows of Silence) surveys a grab bag of financial irregularities in the Catholic Church: collection plate offerings siphoned into archdiocese slush funds, lavish bishops' mansions, and petty embezzlement; unfunded clergy pension funds; hush money paid to a bishop's gay lover; a scheme to flip underpriced Church properties for profit involving a Vatican cardinal and the then-boyfriend of movie star Anne Hathaway. He links it all to the American Church's sexual abuse crisis; huge legal settlements, he notes, have been followed by the closure of parishes and sale of churches, leading to vigils pitting defiant parishioners against bottom-line–obsessed bishops. The author sets his muckraking within a larger moral indictment of the Church that makes it hard to follow the money; details of financial shenanigans are dispensed in meandering, disorganized driblets amid anguished rehashes of pedophile-priest scandals and extraneous backstories of Catholic dissidents. Berry's revelations are dispiriting; he gives us a troubling if blurry portrait of a corrupt, worldly Church hierarchy that's callously out of touch with a flock that expected something holier. (June)
From the Publisher
"Money dominates the third of Jason Berry’s important books about the Catholic Church. Render Unto Rome probes deeply into the culture of the church. To painful questions about money and sex, Berry finds, the response of the church is always the same – secrecy and silence." Thomas Powers

"The Catholic Church wants us to believe that it can reform itself from within. This book shows that it simply can’t. If you are an entrenched member of the hierarchy, you are not going to like this book. If you are a Catholic who believes that truth will lead to change – and that the Vatican needs to change, and change fast – Render unto Rome is your catechism." James Carville

"A captivating read, Render to Rome is an astounding revelation of the church's financial system, and required reading for those who donate to the church or are interested in the ongoing effort to restore the credibility of the church and its hierarchy." —Sister Joan Chittister, OSB

"Once again Jason Berry is ahead of the curve when it comes to writing about the Catholic Church. Nothing about this book is superficial. This is a prodigiously researched work that looks at the church with both breadth and depth, and it is fascinating." John M. Barry, author of Rising Tide and The Great Influenza

"As a writer, Jason Berry has the jeweler’s eye for significant detail that combines with the novelist’s art in telling a story; as a reporter and researcher, Berry is thorough, compelling, and complete." —George Fish

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Render unto Rome 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
family-pa More than 1 year ago
I have been a practicing catholic all my life and that over the past couple of years, I have had problem with the way our local bishop was destroying our diocese, church and local pastor. It has become such a problem that me and my adult children have become lax in attending mass. I heard this author on a radio show interview and found him very interesting. You will be shocked at the amount money that is flowing through the church with no one watching how it is spent, how the leaders of the church have zero tolerance for dissent, or even for any questions to be asked. After reading about 30 pages I said to my wife it will be a miracle if I’m still a catholic after reading this book. It’s not that bad, I will not allow these criminal to rob me of my religion, but I will be vigilant on my contributions to the church, and send my donation to different causes. There is so much information here it is almost drowning, the author lasers in a specific group and after their story is told he brings you back out to see the whole picture then moves you in another direction and lasers you in on another group then back out again. Very good work.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have not read this book and because of that I can't give it a fair review, but I would advise anyone who does read it to "keep their minds' open, but not so open that their brains' fall out." I don't deny the possibility that there could be corruption within The Church, but I also believe that some people like to twist the truth and exagerate the actual facts. Of course I don't know if this author is one of those people, but I ask you to keep in mind that possibility. Lastly, if you find that you cannot trust The Church because of what you read, try going to the website Catholicanswers . Com to talk to an apologist or another knowledgable person. They could help you figure it out if there is a misunderstanding, or you could give them the push they need to start fixing the problem if there is one. In short, if you discover the ship is damaged, rather than try to swim, try to fix it.
historybuff More than 1 year ago
Well researched and written. Gives real insight into the the chuirch hierarchy who are human beings just like us who make mistakes. What a shame it is that their mistakes effect so many of the faithful. And even more sad that they cannot see their mistakes and hide behind authorityh and power. So UnChristlike!
Grammared More than 1 year ago
Jason Berry’s books detail the financial practices of the Catholic Church and how they bring in billions of dollars annually through donations in various business deals. The book plays on the themes of authority and legitimacy, the persuasion that the Church uses, corruption, and substantive justice. It illustrates a modern connection between church and state that has been in place in any and all religious cultures, making it an interesting topic to read about. However, I thought that the way Berry organized his information drew away from the simple facts. He included INSANE amounts of numbers. I think any reader would be surprised at the amount of research Berry did. It is a good book to read for a research paper or political science coursework, but I wouldn't pick it up for pure enjoyment. It was interesting and I learned a lot about the Catholic Church but found myself struggling to keep reading. I would suggest purchasing the book if you want to know about the scandals through extensive data and research, not straightforward facts.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Larksong she cat strong romantic orange tabby
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Write more pls. Ps can u post ur nook email so we can be nook freds, lend each other books and chat?
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Everyone is asuming that her name is Whitekit automatically but she hasn't been named. 3 and a half stars. <p> Shadow of Light/Shadowlight/Shadow/Lightshadow: (choose whichever name. The first is for a tribe, second for an evil Clan, third for rogue, and forth for a different Clan.) <br> Gender: t&male<_>m. <br> Looks: the majority of him is black. He has dark brown eyes with flecks of silver. A streak, like a flashlight beam, runs across him and ends on a bizzare redish birthmark. <br> Note: i want him in a different Clan. I want him to kitnap the kit, but you can do whatever you want with him.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WONDERFUL detail! Quite sincerely, this is the best Warrior's fanfic on NOOK that l have read. :) Five stars (two stars is my signature thing; l don't use them to rate fanfics). I personally am a huge fan of realistic-ness. Keep it up! <br> <p> JaySong <br> Grey she-cat with blue eyes. A fluffy white tailtip, fluffy white underelly, and (fluffy) white throat. <br> Maybe mentors Winterkit/paw/Berry? Or is somehow associated with her.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! <p> Dirtkit\paw\flight. Dark brown tabby tom with white, cream, and tannish splotches. Very deep amber eyes and a hiddeous and jagged scar on his flank as Dirtpaw. You can make him fall in love with Whitekit or not. Mother is Coldfoot, dad is Longer. <p> Hazelkit\paw\heart. Very pale ginger tabby with deeper ginger stripes. Her tailtip is white and she has violt eyes. Mother is Daisyfur and dad is Sulfureyes. <p> Note- Do NOT make the parents.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
&hearts my plication is below <p> Name-Foxkit <p> Apearance-Dark russet ginger tom with deep amber eyes. Befreinds Whitekit and falls in live with her. He finally gets h o r n y and lter on in the book has s e x with her. ~Jewel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The sky was a colorless gray, oozing heavy snow clouds. A predictable snowflake fluttered like paper down to the land of WaterClan. It was the first snowlake of leaf-bare. Down it went, dancing and swirling in the soft breeze, until it somehow found its way through a tiny drift in one of the nursery's walls. A tiny white newborn she-kit, the only in he parents' litter, was curled up in the cozy belly-fur of her mother. Her eyes weren't opened yet, and her parents agreed to wait to name her until they were. The snowake gently landed on the kit's moist, pink nose and melted. The sudden burst of cold made the white she-kit wail and she snuggled closer to her mother's silver tabby pelt. The proud parents chuckled. <br> "That could've very well been the first snowflake of the year, Ripplestar," the mother purred to her mate. Ripplestar nodded. <br> "And remember the old tales the elders would tell us? I recall one saying that the first snowflake of leaf-bare carries with it a blessing from StarClan, and whatever the flake touches gets blessed. But do you really believe those old myths, Crysalsky?" Crystalsky looked a little hurt, but hid it quickly by laughing. <br> "Of course not! Now, shh, our daughter's sleeping." (Hope you liked it! I will take 10 charactor applications. 2 per person is the limit. -Reflections
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