The Vatican Diaries

The Vatican Diaries

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church


The Vatican Diaries is an inside look at one of the world's most powerful and mysterious institutions, by John Thavis.

'A humane and realistic and (yes) humorous picture of a mortal institution. To an old Prot like me, it's a tour of alien terrain and a bridge to old and dear friends' Garrison Keillor

For thirty years John Thavis worked for the Catholic News Service in Rome and reported on the inner workings of the Vatican. The Vatican Diaries is his insightful and often very funny account of exactly what goes on in this unique and secretive institution. It's a place where cardinals fight private wars, scandals are constantly threatening to undermine papal authority, and reverence for the past comes up painfully against the considerations of modern life.

He describes the politics surrounding the election of a new pope and the beatification of an old one, the angst of dealing with the international issue of sexual abuse, the intricacies of arranging a Papal visit to India, the conflicts involved in trying to build a car park over an ancient Roman burial site - and above all the unfathomable personality of the conservative Pope Benedict XVI, the first pope to resign for 600 years. At this extraordinary moment of crisis in the Church, Thavis's account of its inner workings is invaluable.

'One closes John Thavis' perceptive study reflecting on the Vatican's challenge: to persist in a secularizing world sometimes fascinated by the pomp and pageantry of St. Peter's-but often hostile or increasingly indifferent to the Church's determined mission to harmonize warring factions and bickering enemies, even if both are on the same Catholic side' New York Journal of Books

John Thavis recently retired as the prizewinning chief of the Rome bureau of Catholic News Service, where he had covered the Vatican since 1983. He is the past president of the International Association of Journalists Accredited to the Vatican, and in 2007 the Catholic Press Association awarded him the Saint Francis de Sales Award, the highest honour given by the Catholic press. He divides his time between Minnesota and Rome.


  • 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

About the author

John Thavis

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