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Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church [Paperback]

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Item Number 153460  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   322
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.9" Width: 6.02" Height: 0.85"
Weight:   1.05 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 19, 1998
Publisher   Harvard University Press
ISBN  0674932617  
EAN  9780674932616  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...

There are one billion Catholics in the world today, spread over every continent, speaking almost every conceivable language, and all answering to a single authority. The Vatican is a unique international organization, both in terms of its extraordinary power and influence, and in terms of its endurance. Popes come and go, but the elaborate and complex bureaucracy called the Vatican lives on. For centuries, it has served and sometimes undermined popes; it has been praised and blamed for the actions of the pope and for the state of the church. Yet an objective examination of the workings of the Vatican has been unavailable until now.

Drawing on more than a hundred interviews with Vatican officials, this book affords a firsthand look at the people, the politics, and the organization behind the institution. Reese brings remarkable clarity to the almost Byzantine bureaucracy of congregations, agencies, secretariats, tribunals, nunciature, and offices, showing how they serve the pope and, through him, the universal church. He gives a lively account of how popes are elected and bishops appointed, how dissident theologians are disciplined and civil authorities dealt with. Throughout, revealing and colorful anecdotes from church history and the present day bring the unique culture of the Vatican to life.

The Vatican is a fascinating institution, a model of continuity and adaptation, which remains constant while functioning powerfully in a changing world. As never before, this book provides a clear, objective perspective on how the enormously complex institution surrounding the papacy operates on a day-to-day level, how it has adapted and endured for close to two thousand years, and how it is likely to face the challenges of the next millennium.

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Vatican   [168  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General   [5549  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism   [0  similar products]
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5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Catholic   [1161  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Unbiased  Dec 31, 2007

Rarely have I seen a book written about the Vatican which is as unbiased as this one. I thoroughly recommend it. Although one has to go through quite a bit of detail and draw ones own conclusions, it is well worth the read.
Not the salt that preserves  Nov 23, 2005
Beware Fr. Reese SJ's unconventional opinions and you will not be misguided by unorthodox Catholic thought. He is a very political character himself and colors his statements. His recent attack on limits placed by Pope Benedict against practicing gays entering the priesthood betray an extreme bias. He contends pedophilia the problem although the vast majority of abuse cases were against adolescent boys, not young children -- just as example of his penchant for being loose with facts.
Scary but true.  Dec 31, 2004
Once you know what goes on Inside the Vatican, as a Catholic, you may want to get out.

Methodist anyone?
Ever wonder what it'd be like to be a Vatican bureaucrat?  Apr 28, 2004
Thomas Reese, Jesuit professor and journalist, has carved a very narrow niche for himself as an author, explaining the organizational mechanics of the Catholic church. Most people would find his books to have far too much detail, but there are a few, like me, who are curious about what really happens behind the closed doors of the Catholic administrative apparatus. His 1989 book, "Archbishop," described how dioceses are run, and "Inside the Vatican" describes how the Vatican functions. What decisions do cardinals actually make? What is it like to be a Vatican ambassador to a foreign country? What is it like to have a career as a Vatican bureaucrat? (One tidbit: No air conditioning!)

If these are things you've wondered about, this is the book for you. Reese approaches these things as though he were an anthropologist or a management consultant, with a keen eye for the nuances of interpersonal relationships within the Vatican bureaucracy. My only complaints are that the amount of detail can be overwhelming, and Reese sometimes gets bogged down in a wooden style of writing. It's best to start reading this book in the middle, because the beginning is rather dry. On the other hand, the anecdotes are a strong plus. To give one example, the story of John Paul II reprimanding the Archbishop of Denver to his face creates a mental image that is hard to forget.

The last chapter is the most provocative, where Reese suggests reforms that are both logical and unrealistic: He argues that Vatican administrators should not be allowed to become cardinals, which in papal elections would cause a monumental power shift toward those who are in closer touch with the laity. Reese suggests priests play a major role in selecting bishops, as was the case before the 1800s, in contrast to the current practice in which the pope appoints ultraconservative bishops who can't relate to anyone in their diocese.

According to Reese, the underlying problem is that the Vatican is more interested in doctrinal purity than keeping people in the church. Meanwhile the laity are voting with their feet, gravitating to pastors who ignore papal instructions, or leaving the church altogether.

A Balanced View  May 7, 2002
Reese has written a book that can be daunting to someone who may be looking for quick answers. The Vatican is such an arcane institution that it is impossible to give a short, comprehensive answer on the operation of the Curia. As a researcher, I found Reese's work immensely informative; it also provides some balance to the more sensational allegations of Luigi Marinelli, although I doubt that his work is to be discounted either. It shows an institution that is prone to the same errors of judgement and behaviour in its denizens as any other, but with a higher degree of moral rectitude expected from it. It is a fascinating excursion into one of the world's oldest surviving bureaucracies.

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