Inside the Vatican

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Harvard University Press, Feb 19, 1998 - Religion - 317 pages
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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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User Review  - Oreillynsf - LibraryThing

Wow, what a book. The author, a Jesuit priest, provides an incredibly detailed look into how the church is organized and how it functions. I think the most profound observation he asserts is that the ... Read full review

Inside the Vatican: the politics and organization of the Catholic Church

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

One need not be Catholic or even religious to appreciate this fascinating look into the Vatican, an institution with worldwide influence. Reese, a Jesuit priest and political scientist, provides ... Read full review


Papal Roles
The College of Bishops
The Synod of Bishops
The College of Cardinals
The Roman Curia
Vatican Officials
Papal Leadership
Vatican Finances
Outside the Vatican
Toward the Next Millennium

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About the author (1998)

Thomas J. Reese, S.J., is a Jesuit scholar with a doctorate in political science from the University of California, Berkeley. He is Editor-in-Chief of America, the national Catholic weekly magazine, and author of, among other books, Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church.

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