Vows of Silence

The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II

About The Book

Going deep behind the headlines about scandals in the Catholic Church, Jason Berry and Gerald Renner's Vows of Silence follows the staggering trail of evasions and deceit that leads directly to the Vatican -- and taints the legacy of Pope John Paul II. Based on more than six years of investigative reporting and hundreds of interviews, this book is a riveting account of Vatican cover-ups and the tumult they have caused in the church worldwide. Both a profound criticism and a wake-up call to reform by two Catholic writers, Vows of Silence reveals an agenda of top-down control under John Paul II and a hierarchy so obsessed with secrecy as to spawn disinformation. Vows of Silence is not a book about sexual abuse; it is a book about abuse of power, throughout the Vatican.
The book cuts between the life story of Father Tom Doyle, who sacrificed a diplomatic career with the Vatican to seek justice for sex-abuse victims, and Father Marcial Maciel, an accused pedophile and founder of the militaristic religious order, the Legion of Christ. One of the most mysterious and powerful men in the Catholic Church, Maciel has built a network of priests, lay people, and elite prep schools in more than twenty countries, using the Legion as a fundraising machine to position himself as a favored figure of John Paul II.
In addition to accusations against Maciel of sexual abuse and of using Legion money for his own extravagant lifestyle, many ex-Legionaries claim that the order uses mind-control techniques to isolate seminarians and even priests from their families. And yet, because he enjoyed the protection of Pope John Paul II and members of the Roman Curia, charges against Maciel for sexual misconduct -- all of which he denies -- were blocked in the Vatican court system.
Drawing on in-depth interviews with Father Doyle and with ex-Legionaries who filed a canonical suit against Maciel, as well as interviews with Vatican insiders and an array of sources in Mexico, Ireland, Canada, and Australia, the authors provide a penetrating account of a hierarchy directly in conflict with its followers. With keen insight and scrupulous reporting, Vows of Silence is a powerful narrative that chronicles the church's struggle between orthodoxy and reform -- going straight to the heart of one of the world's largest power structures.

About The Authors

Jason Berry achieved national renown for his highly praised book, Lead Us Not Into Temptation. He produced an award-winning film documentary based on Vows of Silence. A novelist and jazz historian, he lives in New Orleans. For more information, please visit www.JasonBerryAuthor.com.

Gerald Renner (1932 - 2007) was a veteran journalist at The Hartford Courant, and the recipient of many awards for his reporting on religious news, issues and trends.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Free Press (February 24, 2004)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743253819

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Raves and Reviews

"Berry and Renner paint a portrait of a clueless, isolatedCatholic hierarchy that is Orwellian in its absurd embrace of dubious figureslike Maciel and its paranoid rejection of good priests like Tom Doyle . . . ."—The Boston Globe

"Vows of Silence” findsthe same system of secrecy and protection that pervaded the American scandalsin evidence in the Vatican. Itchronicles the way in which top church officials squelched an investigationinto accusations of sex abuse by the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, theinfluential founder of the Legionaries of Christ. . . ."—Newsday

"No intelligenceorganization is as wrapped in secrecy as the hierarchy of the Roman CatholicChurch, and nothing inspires silence in the Vatican more than scandal involvingpriests and sex. The story that unfoldsin Vows of Silence is carefullydocumented by two veteran reporters—both Catholics—who penetrated the defensesof the Vatican to give us a powerful account of failures about which churchauthorities never wanted anyone to now."—Thomas Powers, author of Intelligence Wars: American Secret Historyfrom Hitler to Al Queda

“Berry and Renner properly trace the basic cause of thesexual abuse crisis to the church’s historic obsession—at the very highestlevels—with secrecy. The propensity tostonewall, cover-up and deceive ‘for the good of the church’ seems irresistibleeven in an age in which, as the Lord said, that which is whispered in theclosets is proclaimed from the housetop.Readers will find it a fascinating account.”—Father Andrew Greeley

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