In the Vatican

In the Vatican

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The administration of the Vatican is a highly complex affair, and the men who run it are talented, exceptional, and often enigmatic people. In this book, Peter Hebblethwaite has used his skills and experience of everthing papal to reveal the inner workings of the Vatican and the personalities of those (including the present Pope) who help to run more

Product details

  • Paperback | 240 pages
  • 130 x 190mm | 198g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 16 plates
  • 0192830635
  • 9780192830630

Review Text

A lively, opinionated, and surprisingly frank report on Vatican operations and personnel from an ex-Jesuit and former Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. After an acerbic discussion of Vatican history through the 19th century, the author dons the armor of the loyal opposition to sail (for a practicing Catholic) more treacherous waters: a look at the personalities of the men who have shaped Vatican policy and Catholic lives in modern times. And he makes it clear that it is personality, particularly papal personality and its tilt towards conservation or reformation, that dominates the formation and execution of Church doctrine. Hebblethwaite starts at the top, etching sharp portraits of all the 20th-century Popes including John Paul II: "He sometimes seems to ignore altogether the dimension of time, and so to dispense with history and the development of doctrine." He then discusses the fight arm of the papacy, the Curia, through its various Congregations (departments), following with assessments of the Vatican diplomatic corps and propaganda machinery, the major religious orders, the so-called Polish mafia, and the politics of canonization. Although the author spices his account with peppery commentary and gossipy tidbits ("The Lourdes grotto in the Vatican is a favourite resort of aged cardinals after the siesta"), occasionally he piles on so much detail in his enthusiasm to present a thorough study that his narrative reads like a textbook, teeming with acronyms, statistics, and lists. A fatuous last chapter, a projection of an inaugural address for a future Vatican Council, seems merely an exercise in wish fulfillment. A refreshing and insightful look at the rarely-exposed locus of Roman Catholicism, marred chiefly by a bit too much axe-grinding. (Kirkus Reviews)show more