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The Sunday collection in every Catholic church throughout the world is as familiar a part of the Mass as the homily and even Communion. There is no doubt that, historically, the Catholic Church has been one of the great engines of charity in history. But once a dollar is dropped in that basket, where does it go? How are weekly cash contributions that can amount to tens of thousands of dollars accounted for? Where does the money go when a diocese sells a church property for tens of millions of dollars? And what happens when hundreds of millions of dollars are turned over to officials at the highest ranks, no questions asked, for their discretionary use?
The Roman Catholic Church is the largest organization in the world. The Vatican has never revealed its net worth, but the value of its works of art, great churches, property in Rome, and stocks held through its bank easily run into the tens of billions. Yet the Holy See as a sovereign state covers a mere 108 acres and has a small annual budget of about $280 million.
No major book has examined the Church’s financial underpinnings and practices with such journalistic force. Today the Church bears scrutiny by virtue of the vast amounts of money (nearly $2 billion in the United States alone) paid out to victims of clergy abuse. Amid mounting diocesan bankruptcies, bishops have been selling off whole pieces of the infrastructure—churches, schools, commercial properties—while the nephew of one of the Vatican’s most powerful cardinals engaged in a lucrative scheme to profiteer off the enormous downsizing of American Church wealth.
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By Isabella R on 09-24-13
Exploitation Of The Most Vulnerable
In Render Unto Rome, Berry writes about money; but as with his previous books, is not so much a book about ‘what happened’ but why.
What happened reads more like a thriller than investigative journalism.
But Render Unto Rome, like Berry’s other books, the refrain remains the same: money, sex and power; but mostly POWER.
Berry continues to educate the average catholic who may not have been physically raped, but have been financially and spiritually raped by the Vatican.
Exhaustively researched, insightful analysis and personally and spiritually powerful.
However, the real importance of this book is laying open the continuing struggle for power and the struggle for what the Roman Catholic Church will look like for generations to come.
While the focus is mostly on the The Legionaries of Christ, the book charts a trend toward a more cultic Roman Catholicism, a personality driven Roman Catholicism, and a decades long shift of power from the curia and religious orders towards personal and lay apostolates like the Legionaries, Opus Dei, Communion and Liberation, Regnum Christi, and Focolare (there are significant differences between these apostolates, but they are all neo-conservative, and in Pope Francis’ words- are loosely bound by their "ideologization" and "exploitation" of the traditional Latin Mass and all things anti-Vatican II.
But the most important revelation is not the mind boggling amounts of money and the hubris of the hierarchy, but the exploitation of the most vulnerable-those for whom the church is supposed to exist to ‘save’.
3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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By Jeanette on 07-26-11
Outstanding Investigative Journalism
This book is a crucial contribution to the current debate on the ethical soundness of the institution of the Vatican, its eloquence aided by the presentation: the author reads it. Jason Berry takes us through the complexities of the finance of the Roman Catholic Church in the USA, in particular, but his investigations have spread more widely, and his reasoning is always carefully made. Yes, this does sound like a thriller, but it cannot cause anything but sorrow to the devout, whom truly deserve better. A brilliant piece of investigative work, made absorbing by a careful and fluent reader: highly recommend.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful