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Thavis, who covered the Vatican for 30 years as a journalist, has written an insider's account chronicling some of the people, issues, and scandals that have made headlines over the years. The press hasn't always been flattering, nor are some of the details Thavis recounts, such as the Vatican's inaction when repeatedly apprised of allegations of sexual abuse of teenage seminarians by the founder of the Legion of Christ religious order. Though sympathetic to the Church, Thavis doesn't stray very far from his journalistic roots. He presents the facts, leaving the editorial conclusions to be drawn by the reader. Although much of the book's content will be of most interest to Catholics, the chapter titled Sex, which addresses condoms, AIDS, and homosexuality, will surely command a wider audience. In the end, we are left with a more nuanced understanding of the Vatican, an institution Thavis describes as marked more by human flair and fallibility than ruthless efficiency. The clergy sex-abuse scandal, however, may well belie the latter part of that assessment.--McConnell, Christopher Copyright 2010 Booklist

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(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Recently retired Rome bureau chief for the Catholic News Service Thavis feels that the Vatican, while globally known, is misunderstood by many. His journalistic obligation to cover the city-state, as he did for more than 25 years, makes him the ideal author for this book. He dedicates the first few chapters to a discussion of the selection of Pope Benedict XVI, presenting the events and characters surrounding this important change with clarity and human detail. He addresses controversial topics in the Catholic Church, from sex-a chapter is devoted to nuances of private opinion on abstinence as compared to using condoms-to sainthood, with relative ease. VERDICT Thavis's anecdotal presentation will appeal to readers seeking understanding of or connection with the Catholic Church's heart. This book is recommended for anyone who would like to challenge their own notions and perceptions of the Vatican.-Annette Haldeman, Dept. of Legislative Svcs., Maryland General Assembly (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.