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Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church
Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church
by Jason Berry
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.74
146 used & new from $0.01

26 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FOLLOW THE MONEY, June 15, 2011
Render unto Rome

Jason Berry tackled a gargantuan topic about the finances of the oldest institution and the largest organization in the world, the Catholic Church. He accomplished it masterfully, thoroughly and comprehensively.

Render unto Rome presents the reader with an up-to-date accounting of the last 27 years' massive multi-billion dollar hemorrhaging of the revenues of the church to compensate the victims of the crimes of child sex abuse by priests. This forfeiture of parishioners' donations would have been less had hierarchs repeatedly not shuffled pedophiles to new assignments.

The hierarchy's rationale for the enormous number of parish closings around the country under the claims of a shift of the Catholic population to the suburbs and a decline in available priests to staff them-- both of these reasons are true--leaves unmentioned a third reason: the replenishing of the bishops' treasuries, but Berry point it out clearly.

Berry shows how the disposal of church property is corrupted by insider information, below market sales prices and refusal to allow the parishioners who built and paid for these plants to buy them.

Vatican curial cardinals have inside information about which church properties will be available for sale and they have enriched themselves and their relatives by passing on that information.

In East Boston, the archdiocese sold a parish for $850.000 and 20 days later the new owner "flipped" it for $2,650,000. In Cleveland, the parishioners of a Hungarian parish slated for closure wanted to buy the church to use as a cultural center but the bishop refused to allow it.

Throughout Render unto Rome Berry demonstrates how parishioners' contributions buy bishops power, position and prestige.

A quote from an interview in the book says it well: "As Catholics we are supporting a wall of corruption with our money, whether we like it or not."

An excellent study by a thoroughly competent investigator.

Faith: A Novel
Faith: A Novel
by Jennifer Haigh
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $22.91
263 used & new from $0.01

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Join the Breen-McGann Family for a Few Months, May 26, 2011
This review is from: Faith: A Novel (Hardcover)
To read Jennifer Haigh's Faith, one must tale a role in the book because in reading this well-crafted and emotionally captivating work there is no place for passive observers or detached spectators.

There are two roles the reader can take in this thrilling dramatic fiction: To become a sibling in the Breen-McGann's impaired family for at least a five month period, the time line of the story, or to become the psychotherapist for Shelia, the narrator of this very plausible and engrossing enigma.

The narrative is based on the revolting criminal child abuse scandal of the Catholic Church that became public in 2002 in Boston. Haigh weaves her plot around one accused priest and his family.

No reader need convert to Catholicism to enjoy this thoroughly riveting mystery, not a "who done it" mystery, but a mystery about the complexity of the human condition.

At the end of the novel, Haigh has the narrator, Shelia, tell us why she is writing this story, "I write to expiate my own failing."

No religious perspective is needed to enjoy this novel because it is about each of us eking out meaningful lives.

I highly recommend Faith to professional church people who are enveloped in an invisible vapor, a culture that blinds them to the fragility of living life. It should be required reading for all Catholic bishops, priests and laity; perhaps in Faith they will rediscover their own flawed humanity.
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