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The Vatican Exposed: Money, Murder, and the Mafia Hardcover – May 1, 2003

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The Vatican Exposed: Money, Murder, and the Mafia + In God's Name: An Investigation Into the Murder of Pope John Paul I
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (May 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591020654
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591020653
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Burdened by a lurid title, this is a short history of the politics and finances of the Vatican during the last hundred years. As in his Complete Idiot's guides to the Crusades and to the lives of the saints, Williams displays an ability to compress a great deal of information in a short, highly readable way. His main argument is that the current financial strength of the Roman Catholic Church as well as many of its problems began in 1929 with the signing of the Lateran Treaty, in which a financially besieged Pope Pius XI exchanged recognition and support of Mussolini's Fascist government for more than $90 million and the establishment of the Vatican as a sovereign state. Williams traces how the Vatican's new emphasis on financial stability led it into other morally questionable financial arrangements with Adolf Hitler, the fascist state of Croatia and reputed Sicilian Mafia financier Michele Sindona. He examines carefully the establishment and workings of the Instituto per le Opere di Religione, commonly known as the Vatican Bank, "an entity unto itself without corporate or ecclesiastical ties to any other agency within the Holy See." While parts of the book overlap with other recent works on the Vatican and the popes (especially on Pius XI's refusal to censure the brutal ethnic cleansing of Orthodox Serbs and Jews by Croatia's Ustashi regime), this is a surprisingly solid short look at the dubious financial dealings of the Vatican from the 1920s to the present.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

On February 11, 1929, Pope Pius XI signed the Lateran Treaty with Mussolini's government, affirming Il Duce and netting him the political capital necessary for a secure Fascist future in exchange for $90 million in cash, a new tax-exempt papal state on Vatican Hill, government salaries for Italian parish priests, and the promise of both power and financial security. With it was formed the Vatican's Special Administration of the Holy See, the cleric-free investment arm of the Vatican, in the care of Bernardino Nogara, financial architect of the German Reichsbank. Thus ended the church's long-standing ban against usury and began a tradition of financially rewarding Faustian relationships with some of the twentieth century's most unsavory elements, including Nazi Germany and the Sicilian Mafia. Williams, a church historian who has also done FBI consulting, also investigates the suspicious death of reformer John Paul I and the shadiness of business as usual under John Paul II. This is a jaw-dropping book for Catholics and non-Catholics alike, and its straightforward manner and thoroughly documented evidence make it a compelling challenge for reform. Brendan Driscoll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

This is a well researched, and written history book.
A must read for those interested in what goes on behind the closed doors of the Vatican.
Warren Greene
This book is 202 pages long and this reader read it in one Saturday sitting.
Ronald G. Defenbaugh

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 104 people found the following review helpful By Newton Ooi on July 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Growing up in America, one of my favorite topics in school was history, be it American, Western, or world history. Never in all those classes did I come across anything like the tales told in this book. The author is a historian of Christianity, and in this book he gives an inside history of the Vatican, with an emphasis on the 20th century. Specifically, he tells the facts that the Vatican would not like people to know. The major events covered in this book are:

1. The Vatican's treaty with Mussolini and the Fascist Party in Italy whereby the Vatican would get its own land and country from Italy. In exchange, the Vatican would support the Fascists publicly and privately. This occurred in 1929, I think.

2. The Vatican's agreement with Hitler in the 1930s whereby the Vatican would pressure Catholics in Germany to not oppose Hitler. In return, the Nazis gave money to the Vatican in the form of a church tax levied on German Catholics.

3. The Vatican covering up for some of its officials who took part in the Holocaust.

4. The Vatican helping Nazi scientists escape to the US at the end of WWII. In return, the Allies kept secret knowledge about the Vatican's complicy in the Holocaust and private arrangements with the Axis powers.

5. The Vatican aligning itself with the Mafia after WWII to help secure inroads into foreign governments, and get good deals on investments world-wide.

All in all, this was a very impressive book. It is quite short, and probably as easy to read as a Harry Potter book, though shorter than a Potter book. The book is written in chronological order, and there are a lot of references to various primary and secondary sources.

I highly recommend this book.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Warren Greene on December 31, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I found this book quite intriguing from start to finish. Williams does a really good job of outlining the politicking that goes on in the Vatican from the prewar period to the present. A must read for those interested in what goes on behind the closed doors of the Vatican.

It is disturbing it has garnished less than a score of favorable reviews over a decade. Even more disturbing is the weight of reviews. Yet, if one removes negative reviews posted by right wing visitors who can't accept the truth, this is the five-star book I say it is.

Whereas Williams gives us a good outline, I found another book that goes into much greater depth. Aside from being a biography of a pope's revolutionary life and dealing with what happens when the politicking that goes on when a pope is elected turns to murder.

The Vatican Murders: The Life and Death of John Paul I does the best overall job of proving the Vatican's role in World War II and the Holocaust--its proof: scores of surviving photos, many never before published. What's more, it explains how it is possible the Vatican Bank has been able to circumvent Italian and international banking controls in carrying on clandestine dealings from drug money laundering to funneling hundreds of millions to the Contras in the great Vatican bank scandal of 1979. Perhaps, most important, employing a barrage of court testimony 'The Vatican Murders' proves that the conspiracy that planned the Great Vatican Bank Scandal (The Ambrosiano Affair) was the same conspiracy that plotted the murder of John Paul I. This is consistent with the courts which tried the scandal which proved that Ambrosiano (John Paul II) raised the first 'scandal' dollars from unsuspecting investors thirty days after the death of John Paul I.

I would get both books to get free shipping.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Ronald G. Defenbaugh on July 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Williams traces the dark history of the characters inside the Vatican from prior to WWII to the recently deceased Pope's time. The history is of the dark side from Pius XI's actions and inactions with the Hitler Regime to Pope John Paul II's Vatican Banking scandals. Other reviewers have criticized the author for dwelling on the dark side and have accused him of fantasizing. The notes are there to check. His intentions weren't to point out the benevolence of the Vatican - they were to point out the side that up to recent times have not been brought to light. If a reader is truly interested in history, one has to have all the facts. Some of the facts are contained within Mr. Williams' book and I commend him for bringing them to our attention. Also contained are Appendices of THE LATERAN TREATY OF 1929, a chronological listing of Popes from Peter to John Paul II, and THE CONCORDANT BETWEEN THE HOLY SEE AND THE GERMAN REICH. The facts are noted within the chapters and the notes contained at the end of the book. One can use the notes as a further reading bibliography if desired. This book is 202 pages long and this reader read it in one Saturday sitting. If you're interested only in polemics, read something else. If you're interested in facts, even if they have warts, you need to read this book.
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54 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Charles J. Rector on June 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
During the late 1970's and early 1980's, the Vatican's finances were in the hands of Cardinal Paul Marcinkus. Marcinkus was corrupt and he placed the Holy See's investments in the hands of Roberto Calvi and Michele Sidona, both of whom were Mafia-connected bankers. Their corruption lead to the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano in 1982 and caused the exposure of one of the greatest scandals in Papal history.
Where it stays on focus on this scandal, Paul L. Williams's The Vatican Exposed: Money, Murder, and the Mafia is an excellent work. However, when it strays from this scandal into other aspects of the Vatican's finances, this book gets shaky. Williams simply bites off more than he can chew.
For instance, Williams calls the Vatican's financing of anti-Communist efforts during the Cold War a scandal. But is not sticking up for your fellow Catholics against atheistic dictatorship a fundamental duty of a church? Also, he attempts to link the Vatican to other financial scandals often without any real proof. In other words, he tries to make the Vatican out to be more corrupt than it really is.
Ths book is worth reading only as far as the Marcinkus scandal is concerned. After that, it becomes not much more than shallow sensationalism and bad reporting.
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