cover image Among the Ruins

Among the Ruins

Paul L. Williams. Prometheus Books, $24 (338p) ISBN 978-1-63388-303-1

Journalist Williams (Operation Gladio) compiles eye-popping accounts of forgery, racketeering, torture, the possible insider murder of John Paul I, orphan abuse, the clergy sex scandal, church funds embezzled for priests and cardinals to enjoy the party life, and cover-ups along the way in this highly critical look inside the Roman Catholic Church of the 20th century. In the 1950s, Williams writes, the church overflowed with the faithful, Latin masses inspired awe, and seminaries burst with aspiring priests. Yet corruption was ever present, particularly in the Vatican’s alliance with Mussolini, which included an infusion of $90 million into holy coffers. Eventually, Williams writes, the Mafia and the CIA infiltrated the Church. Williams explains how Vatican II robbed the church of its mystery, majesty, and medieval trappings, causing the faithful and the clergy to flee in droves. According to Williams, there is no going home again: the church is in its death throes. Readers might argue with some of Williams’ conclusions—will a church that survived the fall of the Roman Empire really die?—but one can’t argue that this is a jaw-dropping, provocative read. (Aug.)