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In the Closet of the Vatican

Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy
Narrated by: John Banks
Length: 22 hrs and 19 mins
4 out of 5 stars (51 ratings)

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Summary

In the Closet of the Vatican is a fascinating description and evaluation of financial, sexual and political misconduct throughout the Catholic Church at a time when new revelations are being uncovered each and every week. This audiobook explores the underlying causes and includes interviews with numerous Cardinals and other individuals, some of whom cannot be named. 

Martel reveals financial scandals in the Vatican bank; political collusion with unsavoury regimes, including Castro’s Cuba and Pinochet’s Chile; sexual abuse and hypocrisy over homosexuality. In this explosive account, Martel goes to the heart of corruption in the Catholic Church and inside the Vatican itself.

Martel is a researcher and writer. He has a PhD in social sciences and four master's degrees in law, political science, philosophy, and social science (University La Sorbonne). He has been visiting scholar at Harvard University and taught at Sciences-Po Paris and at the HEC’s Business School MBA in Paris.

He is the author of nine books, including On Culture in America (Gallimard, 2006) and the best seller Mainstream: On the Global War on Culture and Medias (Flammarion, 2010, translated in 20 countries). He has had articles in Newsweek, the New Yorker and the New York Times.

©2019 Frederic Martel (P)2019 Audible Studios

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A bad book

Given the splash the publication of this book briefly made in the news, I set out to listen to it, and did so with curiosity and an open mind. To say that this book is poorly written is as polite as I can manage. The author uses a rambling and prurient style, and attempts to support an unfocused thesis with innuendo and unsubstantiated statements. Historical facts are added seemingly to support his statements but are mostly unconnected to the issue being discussed and seem intended to distract and give the (false) impression of a weighty argument. Generalisation are frequent and betray the author’s bias and clear lack of true knowledge of religion in general and in particular.

The supposed witnesses often give the impression (unintentionally I assume) if being unreliable and questionable motivation. The stories lack convincing detail and seem to be told to give the author what he wants to hear. The author is clearly and openly biased and therefore an unreliable guide. The lack of critical thinking and assessment of his supposed facts is frustrating and speaks loudly of the poor quality of this book.

The author is self-obsessed to an extreme degree. I lost track of the amount of examples where his emotions or impressions on any given situation are taken as evidence of truth that we are expected to accept without question.

2 people found this helpful

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Brilliant if you understand the Catholic Church

If you don’t have a interest in catholic history and some knowledge of how it works this book isn’t for you
If on the other hand you do have that interest and knowledge then this book will blow your mind
It’s a little bit hard going at the start but bear with it and it becomes mind blowing
It’s well research and based in facts the Author is honest enough to tell you if he couldn’t back up what he was telling you with multiple first hand accounts
This book is a must listen to for anyone who is catholic has a Christian faith or just has an interest in these things and a little knowledge

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Couldn't have been any more detailed

In depth research on such a taboo area, incredibly written and performed. Thoroughly enjoyed all the way through

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Stunning indictment of Catholic Church

Amazing and disturbing. You will neverlook at the Catholic Church in the same way again. My one criticism is that it is too long and repetitive at times.

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Disaster

Ploughed through this time hoping to learn something. Did not. Much promised nothing new. It is badly written ,pompous and the narrator is dreadful. It is so bad that I Googled it to see if my mind was playing tricks. It’s not. Can’t believe Audible would put it out as a special. This book is dross by the yard, foot, meter or kilometer.

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Generous, can't put down read

Well written, generous and thoroughly researched. Did well to unpack the drivers holding these closet doors closed.

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Not great book

Most of the book is guesswork. The author has a bias against the Church. Not great to be honest.

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  • Jason
  • 02-05-19

An engaging story of something not so secret!

First, the only drawback of this book is the amount of tangents and digressions. From the narrator to the interviewees, there are a lot of sequence breaks.

It may be a narration which turns to a quote. A quote that's reminiscing to a quote that they're making from someone else. That choppy flow with names (excellently pronounced) in multiple languages make this listen difficult to follow at times.

Aside from that, the book is amazing. It explains so much on how the Vatican came to be so gay. Why the contradictions with condemning homosexual acts but never punishing child molesters. It's complex and sad. And there's just so much. The absurdity to which some of these men exploited their power will have you yelling out loud.

But there are touching, humanizing points as well. The book is a emotional rollercoaster. I strongly recommend this book. Not because I'm gay or because I'm an atheist. But because it's a fascinating story about humans and their inner struggles.

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  • Susan
  • 26-04-19

Where was the editor?

Such a poorly edited book with whole long sections repeated and repeated. Also not particularly interested in know what the author ate in every restaurant. Expected something more factual and coherent.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Peter Bernard Hooper
  • 25-02-20

As a Catholic myself the book has real force.

The writing style of the book is a mix of academic work, methodic and involved, and yet it steps back from being only thing by a large amount of story telling and reports of a large number of interviews If one was asked is this book primarily a psychological reflection or a sociological one, then sociology gets the tick in its box. A number of times Martel is able to point to how the story of the individual is linked to the problem and issue a whole society experiences and is required to face as a result of the telling of that individual's story. Finally there is one idea Martel offers which is noteworthy. He points to the presence of both gay people and non-gays in the Vatican but does not then argue there are two lobbies, one gay and the other straight. He observes while there are gay individuals, group formation for them, the capacity to be a political block is not there because that sexual orientation or interest can't be socially acknowledged. There is the ability for a political movement that attacks gays to be formed, and it is there in the Vatican, and it is populated by many who are homophile. There is permission for this group formation and Martel gives time to explain how this faction operates. This book is socking for some, as a Catholic the news that some in the Vatican are gay is no surprise, however the goings on, the things said and done, that can be indeed unsettling. A book which can be recommended to those who are willing to be open to what it offers.

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  • Bob Young
  • 14-04-19

"Houston, we have a problem."

As a socially conservative Democrat and a Roman Catholic I could have taken offense at the author's numerous accusations that anyone being anti-gay was automatically gay. Case in point being the numerous members of the Curia, from priest to Pope accused of being gay or assumed to be, Due to their "fake" social conservatism such as the Traditionalist Burke "the Cardinal queen." It is amazing how many members of the Curia were in fact, interviewed by this author. And even more amazing just how many of the Curia is thought to be gay or gay homophiles. It is as if the entire circle of men around the Popes (Pope Saint John XXIII to the Blessed Pope Paul VI to Pope Saint John Paul II to Pope Francis today) e.g. the entire cadre of responsible men around the Holy See and his Cardinals (and the Cardinals too) and their Bishops and priests (and the Bishops and priests too) have been nothing more than maniacal sex fiends addicted to plush surroundings and expensive accouterment. From the paintings on the office walls to the luxuriant carpets (all strewn about) to the equally luxuriant furniture. The author spent a great deal of time making the point that the Blessed Pope Paul VI was NOT gay. Why? Not until in the last paragraph of the book does the author admit being gay himself. I found this book to be self-serving on his part (in the sense that he thinks that he and everyone are gay). If clerics do not soon begin legal proceedings for libel and slander then one must assume we are reading the truth. The Roman Catholic Church is being led by degenerate homosexuals. I must say that the author is a very high-quality writer. The translator was of high-quality too. The performer was near perfect. The church lingo was perfectly brought to the ear. I must say, though, that the author is astonishingly cynical and sure of himself but well informed of history. How he obtained all the sensitive interviews remains to be seen. And the Curia was cleaned like a trout before frying. Its guts spilled out and all about. (I gave the story a two because it was gratuitous)

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  • Dr. Terence M. Dwyer
  • 22-03-20

Very disappointing

Perhaps the author thought he was Voltaire but he comes across like a gossip queen gaily being a bitch about everyone he ever met in the Catholic Church. More real evidence for his grand Continental theses would have been appreciated.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-02-20

Rings True and Explains Much about the Church

First, about the book itself. The author is a gifted narrator and obviously did extensive research. The nature of the subject means that often he is relying on second hand information but he weighs this information and often explains why he disbelieved some accusations. Sometimes he gives elaborate descriptions of his interviewees and some may wish less detail had been given. Still his prose in English translation is excellent and worth the read. The audio performance is outstanding and the reader handles the embedded foreign words (usually explained by the author) and names flawlessly. Yes, a good portion of the book is hearsay but it rings true and matches my own observations over the years.

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  • David
  • 04-09-19

one-sided account approved by the current regime

the book gives an account of homosexuality in the Vatican that suits the needs of the closet. Martel simultaneously claims that homosexuality has nothing to do with pedophilia in the Church, and that it is result of clergy having to live in the closet. The central thesis of the book is that homophobes in the Vatican are actually gay people covering for their own homosexuality is supported in a few cases, but the stretching of it to a tautology would require much more evidence than Martel provides. He states he does not want to "out" people, but systematically outs conservatives who are gay, giving cover to the progressives. All credibility is lost at the point where he exonerated Francis from culpability when he lashed-out at the accusers of the priests and bishops in Chile. Martel jumps the shark when he implies that this wasn't an error, but a necessary move to save the entire structure of the Church in Chile from collapsing. Even if those were the stakes, the action was not justified. He claims to be progressive, but attacks the powerful intellectual Robert Sarah in the most shameful of racial terms. Speaking of Sarah living in an earthen hut with witchcraft, and utterly dismissing this man's mind, was oddly reminiscent of Reagan's views on the Tanzanian UN contingent. It shows the condescension of French progressivism that is at it's heart. The French intellectual will share with you, as it is the "White Man's Burden" as long as you behave as you should, but if you politically oppose him he will turn every stereotype against you... it's because he never stopped believing them, but he found playing as if he rejected them politically useful. The book contains useful information in many parts, and I think he is correct about the Church in Cuba, and about the escorts. The lack of objective data calls conclusions into question, the one time in the book that he called-on quantitative data--counting priests on Grinder--he was disappointed with the low sum, and trumped this objective data with reports of hearsay that better supported his conclusions. This book was allowed to be written because it protected the current Papal regime's Power-brokers at every turn, while never failing to cast Benedict XVI in a wicked light. To this end, he claims that Benedict only laicized a few dozen priests--the data was out there before the publication of this book and rapidly showed up on a Google search that he rocked 260 in 2011 and 124 in 2012. Furthermore, the lists of de-frocked clergy in the US frequently bear the phrase "laicized by Pope Benedict XVI on xx/xx/20xx", many more were laicized by Pope JP2 after 2001 when Ratzinger asked JP2 to let him deal with it. In the simplest tasks of reporting data, Martel brazenly chooses propaganda over fact. it's no wonder this was released the day of the Vatican's child abuse conference, it dove-tailed with their insistence that the scandal had nothing to do with homosexuality. And, who, I may ask benefitted? I don't know, but don't look in the closet!

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  • Bowie
  • 28-07-19

must read

well researched and well written by a keen observer. facts matter, and all over the world sunshine disinfects... give this one as a gift to someone you love!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Daniel V. Wois
  • 25-05-19

WOW

What an education. Things just are not what they appear. I liked the entire content more than I thought.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anne Sanchez
  • 23-04-19

Interresting , to a point

This book could and should have been written with only half the pages ... It is 576 pages long, that's 22 hours of reading ! The author spends pages after pages giving details that are not always necessary but that are repetitive. Also you get lost in the endless list of names. You lose interest in his argument because it so long , it's a bit like when you are in a maze and you realise you've been there for too long and you get tired of it. The prologue however really impressed me : it is both illuminating and beautifully written. Some portraits he draws of some cardinals are also very striking, sometimes downright hilarious. But definetly not a book I will ever read again.

1 person found this helpful