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Clerical Error: A True Story (Handbooks of Catholic Theology) [Hardcover]

By Robert Blair Kaiser (Author)
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Item description for Clerical Error: A True Story (Handbooks of Catholic Theology) by Robert Blair Kaiser...

At once hilarious and sobering, this autobiography recounts the life of Kaiser's teens and twenties in the Jesuits, and of his early thirties as a star correspondent at Vatican II.

Publishers Description
Twenty-nine years old, newly married, and fresh from the Society of Jesus, where he had spent ten years as a novice and scholastic, Bob Kaiser was picked for one of the most exciting jobs in journalism of his era: Time's reporter at the Second Vatican Council. In the words of Michael Novak: "No reporter knew more about the Council; had talked with more of the personalities, prominent or minor; had more sources of information to tap. Sunday evening dinner parties at his apartment became a rendezvous of stimulating and informed persons. In the English-speaking world, at least, perhaps no source was to have quite the catalytic effect as Time on opinion outside the Council and even to an extent within it." Much of inner story of the Council-its personalities, machinations, maneuverings between progressive forces and the old guard-was told in Bob Kaiser's bestseller of the early sixties Pope, Council, and World. This is a different story, one so raw and personal that it could only be told some forty years later in a very different church and by a much matured Bob Kaiser. The heart of the story is how Bob's wife was seduced by his friend, the Jesuit priest Malachy Martin, and how Martin ("a man who could make people laugh in seven languages)" persuaded Kaiser's other clerical friends (including notable bishops and prominent theologians) to send him to a sanitorium. The story is at once hilarious (Martin was one of the great clerical con men of all time) and sobering. The "clerical error"--the refusal to see what Martin was up to--was as much Kaiser's as that of his older clerical friends who defended their fellow priest simply because he was a member of the club. Their naivete and their blindness only mirrors the church's inability to deal realistically with any issue touched by sex: birth control, remarriage after divorce, priestly celibacy, clerical child abuse, or the ordination of women. Bob Kaiser did eventually grow up. He knows the official church has a long way to go.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Clerical Error: A True Story (Handbooks of Catholic Theology) by Robert Blair Kaiser has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Publishers Weekly - 04/15/2002 page 60
  • Choice - 09/01/2002 page 119

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Continuum
Pages   297
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.24" Width: 6.31" Height: 1.14"
Weight:   1.34 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   May 1, 2002
Publisher   Continuum International Publishing Group
Edition  New  
ISBN  0826413846  
ISBN13  9780826413840  

Availability  106 units.
Availability accurate as of Oct 23, 2016 11:38.
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More About Robert Blair Kaiser

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Robert Blair Kaiser was a Jesuit-in-training for ten years before leaving to pursue a career in journalism. He served as an award-winning religion reporter for The New York Times, CBS News, Newsweek, and Time. He is the author of sixteen other books, including A Church in Search of Itself and he is an internationally recognized commentator on Vatican II.

Robert Blair Kaiser currently resides in Pheonix.

Robert Blair Kaiser has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Handbooks of Catholic Theology

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1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > General
2Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
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4Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Vatican
5Books > Subjects > Reference > Writing > Journalism
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Roman Catholicism
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > Church History
9Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > General
10Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy

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Reviews - What do customers think about Clerical Error: A True Story (Handbooks of Catholic Theology)?

remarkable report  Aug 2, 2007
I agree with the previous commentator---I could not put the book down. Tolle et lege.
slightly off-track  Oct 18, 2005
Svengali, Rasputin, Martin. If what Mr. Kaiser says in this book is true, then it's too bad that Malachi (why does Kaiser spell it Malachy?) Martin died before INTERPOL, and whatever other law enforcement agencies should be interested, got to him.

I'm not Catholic and I don't think the story in Mr. Kaiser's book is Vatican II at all. The story is about a master con-man and even a cult master of international proportions.

Malachi Martin is connected so much like a spider to so many people and "things" that someone ought to do a really IN DEPTH rundown on the man. I live in a little, out-of-the-way midwestern state, I'm not Catholic, and even I know of people connected in a bizarre, almost cult-like way to Martin and perhaps a mysterious, grissly, unsolved murder or two.

I don't think that Martin was incapable of it, assuming that what Mr. Kaiser says in this book is indeed "a true story."
Kaiser unknowlingly points out the folly of the New Church  Sep 24, 2004
I just finished reading Clerical Error after making copious notes throughout.

As a sedevacantist his book validates my position held by a growing group that the vatican ii council has produced untold damage to the faith of millions of souls.

By recounting the idealogy of many liberals to attempt to change the unchanging doctrines of God's Church Kaiser has unwittingly pointed out that fruits of vatican ii and the new religion (novus ordo) has decimated the true faith throughout the world and brought the full impact of satan and his minions upon the soul of the Church.

I also bought the book to validate some other sources concerning Malachy Martin. I admit being duped into buying Martin books especially during my novus ordo days as a "conservative". Now I will be trashing or burning any books that I still have of his.

Martin, if he did not repent before his death, will be burning in Hell along with the last 3 antipopes and another Martin (Martin Luther).

This book should bring to those Catholics of good faith still trapped in the novus ordo religion that the purpose of vatican ii was to CHANGE Jesus' teaching as well as impose a new religion.

The Fruits of vatican ii are evident: widespread apostasy, priests shortages, homosexuals in the seminaries. The devil couldn't be more proud of his handiwork.

There are two websites I would recommend to give a better understanding of the new religion and its antipopes:
Kaiser has a clear agenda  Jul 7, 2004
From The
History of Vatican II by James Hitchcock:

Time magazine, which was a much more influential journal then, than it is now, was represented at the Council by a reporter whose name was Robert Blair Kaiser. He had been at one time a Jesuit. He was not a priest but he had been a Jesuit, had studied for the priesthood, and was therefore somebody who knew something. He wasn't an ignorant man who had to learn it all from scratch; he was fairly sophisticated in religious matters. But Robert Blair Kaiser's reporting was very much along the same lines as that of Xavier Rynne, the good-guy liberals versus the bad-guy conservatives. Every day there was a shootout at the O.K. Corral over some issue or other. Fortunately most of the time the good-guy liberals managed to disarm the bad-guy conservatives. They shot the guns out of their hands. But unfortunately the bad-guy conservatives kept getting more guns, and so there would be another shootout maybe a week or two later.

As it turned out in some of the autobiographical things which he later wrote, Kaiser had a very clear agenda from the very beginning. One major part of that agenda was birth control. He had been poking around in that area and making contact with certain theologians who were privately or secretly supportive of birth control before the Council. He had made contact with certain influential Belgian and Dutch theologians. When he went to the Council he understood that there was a liberal agenda, the modernist agenda as we've called it, and he was going to use his magazine, Time magazine, to push it. And he did so, and very effectively. Unfortunately the average American Catholic, and this includes most priests and most nuns, learned what the Council was all about more from Time magazine and The New Yorker than from any other source.

There is a massive failure of education here on the part of the Church. One would assume that given an event like the Council that the hierarchy would have put into gear a massive educational project. They would have been lining up books, they would have been training teachers, they would have been announcing schools, workshops in every parish, whatever. And they would have insured the fact that what was presented to people as the authentic teaching of the Council really was the authentic teaching of the Council. To an amazing degree this task was neglected. There was, in fact, as far as I can see, practically no systematic effort to educate Catholics as to the meaning of the Council. They were left to discern its meaning in just about any way they could. And if they were reading the New Yorker they got it from Xavier Rynne, and if they were reading Time magazine they got it from Robert Blair Kaiser. Some variation on the views of those two men appeared in most of the secular press. So not only did there persist a good deal of confusion as to what the Council was all about, but there was even a completely skewed, even false notion of what it was all about. Victories that could not be won on the floor of the Council itself, victories that could not be ratified in the Conciliar decrees, were won after the Council in terms of what people thought the Council said as opposed to what it actually said. The obligation of obedience was used over and over again to get reluctant people to go along with the Council's changes, until such time as obedience had outlasted its usefulness and then the shift was to independence and freedom.

Clerical Error  May 26, 2002
This book is well worth the read. In view of the fact that it was written prior to the breaking of the current scandal, it seems almost prophetic at times. When the author gives his scathing critique of celebacy, however, he assumed that the indescretions of the clergy involved adult men and women. Even Kaiser could not imagine the depth of horrific betrayal of trust in the abuse of children that so many clergy would be capable of.

This book is a "must read" for anyone seriously interested in reform in the Roman Catholic Church. It so speaks of its systemic abuse and misuse of power.

One more reason for RCs to get out of our pews and take back the church.


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