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. --Christopher McConnell
"Wonder what's going on behind those huge doors at the Vatican? Wonder what those cardinals are up to as they scurry about getting ready to elect a new pope? Wonder what the man who rings the bells when that new pope is finally elected is thinking? Thavis answers all in this fascinating book."
"A veritable handbook on all things Vatican."
~The Daily Beast
"A thoughtful meditation on recent papal administrations and the bureaucrats, functionaries, and emissaries who advance or thwart Rome’s global ambitions."
~New York Journal of Books
"Most fascinating is Thavis' generous assessment of Benedict XVI, whom he sees as an almost tragic figure."
~The New Yorker
"Thavis’s Vatican Diaries is well worth putting on your Amazon wish list."
"[The Vatican Diaries] succeeds well in presenting the Roman Curia as a flesh-and-blood community, a byzantine theater of the sacred."
~National Catholic Reporter
"Entertaining and readable."
"A lively book that's steeped in history and personality."
~The Eagle Tribune
“Thavis has offered this rare, perceptive and highly readable glimpse into a power structure that is less in control than many would have us believe.”
"Illuminating and fully accessible to members of the faith and doubters alike."
"In an age when social media threatens to emasculate news and current affairs, Thavis' work is a refreshing sign that great journalism is not dead. Instead of the inane trivia that now passes for 'news' , Thavis provides us with an account of great depth carefully tempered with censure and sympathy."
~Justin Cahill, Booktopia
"An American Catholic who has done his homework, learned Latin and Italian, made friends in high places, found his way for thirty years in the maze of Church bureaucracy, gives us a humane and realistic and (yes) humorous picture of a mortal institution that guides hundreds of millions of mortals along the path from birth to death and beyond. To an old Prot like me, it's a tour of alien terrain and a bridge to old and dear friends."
“Vatican Diaries is a must-read for anyone interested in the Vatican’s role in the Catholic Church and the world.
~Thomas J. Reese, S.J.
"The Vatican Diaries by John Thavis provides us with an intriguing and much needed antidote to one of the most common problems affecting many Catholics and non-Catholics who look at the Vatican these days: the assumption of the cold ruthlessness of the "machine". Thavis shows us also the deeply human side of the Vatican, the last Empire and the last, great theater of the sacred in Western Christianity."
~Massimo Faggioli, University of St. Thomas
"In this highly readable memoir of being a journalist at the Vatican, John Thavis follows the conclaves, sex scandals, internal backstabbing and olympian nature of the popes with a sense of comic relief at the caravan passing through his viewfinder."
~Jason Berry, author of Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church