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Book The Vicars of Christ : Dark Side of the Papacy by Peter De Rosa (1989-11-05)

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The Vicars of Christ : Dark Side of the Papacy by Peter De Rosa (1989-11-05)

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Review Text

  • By Erich Beck on December 19, 2017

    Outstanding. Very well researched, while, at the same time, written with a lively approach. Yes, it does gloss over some issues, but then, with already 600+ pages, and covering an immense amount of interesting mainstream and little-known information, one cannot really expect it to cover EVERYTHING with equal depth. The topic it aims to deal with, the 'dark side' of the Papacy, it covers pretty well. For more information on specific topics, there are plenty of more specialized books available. Very educational, informative and interesting.

  • By 24th chance on April 29, 2016

    Good points, it's very thorough with tons of information about Catholicism you never dreamed of.Bad points -- it written in a secular matter and needs to be more in a Christian point of view.Some stuff I looked up on the net and it either was'ant there or wrong.Not one bible verse that I remember being used.Didnt know most of the info though including peters statue being worn away by people kissing it, but that's not worship ???

  • By shane d johnson on March 31, 2017

    This was a very interesting read, a rare paperback with an unusual history. It's rather large and filled with tons and tons of stories that you were unlikely to hear unless you search out this type of book. Give it a go.

  • By Hostas on December 11, 2013

    Already knew most of the material in this book, but I found it interesting that he calls himself a friend of that filth.

  • By David Oldacre on February 16, 2005

    I bought this book some time ago and was prompted to read it gain as a result of a discussion I had had with a friend about some of the moral issues which had been raised during the recent Presidential election in the USA. When I observed that I thought that most of these positions were of reasonably recent origin (i.e. the past 300-400 years or so) , she questioned me about that. I told her that Peter de Rosa, in his book on the Papacy, had discussed in some considerable detail the history of the position of the Roman Catholic Church on moral issues such as abortion, marriage, birth control, divorce, homosexuality, and the family. Since it was, however, some time ago since I had read it , I thought another read of it was required in order for me to be sure of what he had writtenI am not a member of the Roman Catholic Church, but do I respect its ability to use its moral and ethical authority for the good of the less fortunate in the world, particularly during the past few decades. How the Church managed to become the extraordinary organisation it is, having survived nearly 2000 years and still growing, is an interesting historical subject in itself, and so this book is just one of several I have read about the Papacy. One such is "Keeper of the Keys" by Nicolas Cheetham which is a somewhat benign history of the Bishops of Rome and the Papacy from the earliest times, but which focuses more on the actions of the Holy Fathers rather than on their position on moral questions.Whether this is the best book to read about such matters is another question, since its subtitle "The Dark Side of the Papacy" makes it clear that this is going to focus on the sins rather than the achievements of the Roman Catholic Church. But it's a book I have and from my earlier read of it I knew that what Peter de Rosa, (a former Priest, and a former University Professor and College Dean), has written about the historical background of the Church is certainly consistent with that of Cheetham,, and other books I have read. And, so even though he has since left the priesthood, I am prepared to believe that his qualifications and experience are sufficient for one to be confident that he knows his subject well, .The book is polemical and, unsurprisingly focuses on the misdeeds, mistakes, misjudgements, and inconsistencies of the Church leaders, so it is definitely a bit of gloomy book. One reviewer gave it the one-line label as "A binful of garbage", but I am not sure whether this was a snappy one-liner or whether the reviewer actually explained why he felt the need to dismiss it in that way. Other reviewers were considerably kinder, but it's not clear to me how representative they might be.Be that as it may, this book is well written, very interesting, and very informative. It is a chilling indictment of the record of the Holy Fathers for the past 1000 years, showing them to be frequently less than Christian in their behaviour, frequently self serving, decidedly inconsistent, and certainly not a terribly good example to the lesser beings of this world. This is certainly not to say that the record of secular monarchs of this period is any better, so perhaps they were simply just men of their times. This book therefore is probably not for the devout Christian, unless they feel a need to know about the past history of the Church and how it got to where it is today.Part One of the book, entitled "Power", describes why and how the church gained its temporal power, how it first used that power to control the rapacity and sheer greed of the monarchs of the High Mediaeval Period, and how sadly, it started to be corrupted by the temporal power it had gained at the expense of those kings. The incredible cruelty of the Crusades and of the Holy Inquisition on the one hand, and the self indulgent, self serving behaviour of the princes of the Church on the other, is perhaps little different from the standards of the times. Part Two entitled "Truth" describes how the Church reacted to the various challenges to its power particularly after the reality of the Renaissance had begun to sink in, and the methods which the church leaders used in order to hang on to their power. Part Three entitled "Love" discusses the development of the Church's doctrine on the moral questions which I listed above.Did I get the answers I was seeking? Yes, and this book definitely provides a thorough explanation. It's rather a pity that it has been condemned because of its critical exposure of such a revered institution. Perhaps it would have been better to provide some kind of balance by contrasting the misdeeds with the positive record of the Church over these centuries, and this is the reason I am giving it four rather than five stars. Nevertheless it will remain on my bookshelf, and there is no doubt that I will find the need to consult it again from time to time.


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