BOOK REVIEW: The Vatican Diaries by John Thavis


Title: The Vatican Diaries
Author: John Thavis
Publication: February 21, 2013
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Non-Fiction
Pages: 336

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SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)

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.


To those who know me, I make it no secret how I was raised in a very straight-laced Catholic household.  People at work who don’t really know me can tell that I was raised at least in a Christian household.  It is something that still bleeds over into my life now, be it in my actions, words, or how I raise my kids with some of the values that were given to me as a child.   So when I came across this book heavens only knows where I wanted to read it.  I, of course, found it on audible and listened to it that way. 

The Vatican is the powerhouse of the Catholic Church.  It is where the Pope resides and where the rules of the Catholic Church are formed and made. It’s also the hotbed of some issues that have cropped up in recent years.  The author of this book was a journalist for the Catholic news service for the Vatican.  So he has behind-the-scenes looks at the Popes and would ride along with the Pope for any trips that he did.  The book covers both  Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict.  There is an afterword in the paperback version that covers Pope Benedict into the current Pope, Pope Francis.    

This book in poignant and eye-opening.  He talked about things in such a greater depth than I was aware of what was going on.  He talks about the Catholic Church’s reaction to all of the sexual abuse that took place in the clergy.  He touches on the Chruch’s stance on sex as well as condoms, just to name a few.  He writes about how the various Popes handled the public.  Like Pope John Paul II loved the public and would do more things with them.  Benedict on the other hand acted like it pained him to make himself seen.  It’s hard to describe this book more.  It doesn’t really read like a book.  There are sections with different titles and in each one, he talks about how it was handled and how the public reacted to each of them.  My family are still staunch Catholics, I did give this book to my Dad to read and I am interested to see his take because some of the chapters don’t paint it in such a good light.  I am really glad that I read this book and will see if the author has any more books out about the Catholic Church.  

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