Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Wills, is one of America’s most highly praised Catholic journalists and authors, has recently published a criticizing work against his own church’s past and its present leadership. Wills’ thesis in the “Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit” (Doubleday) is that “the life of church authorities is lived within structures of deceit.” In his book Wills puts his extensive knowledge of St. Augustine, and church traditions, to work in depicting the “structures of deceit” which he claims are built into the Roman Catholic papacy. His main idea throughout the book is that every era of papal history has its own problematic issue. For instance the medieval papacy was obsessed by lust for political power, as the popes during Renaissance were consumed by greediness for treasures. Nowadays Wills argues the structural sin feature of the papacy is intellectual dishonesty.

Wills believes that the papal system is helpless in acknowledging their mistakes. This in turn forces the systems defenders to dive into mental gymnastics to protect dogmas for which there are no really good arguments. Taking for example women who were excluded from the Catholic priesthood because of historic beliefs that women were ritually impure and because of superiority of men. It is clear that today it is impossible to appeal to such principles, so the defenders of this veto are forced to claim that because Jesus did not accept women, thus the church can not do it. The book describes the official positions on women’s ordination from the church and other issues such as contraception, the church’s role in the Holocaust and obligatory priestly celibacy. It argues that those concerns are imperfect in their intellectual integrity and insincere in their abuse of historical confirmation. Wills writes “a man condemns himself in his own eyes if he tries to claim that he agrees with it.” Such hidden conflict, the writer suggests, is an unappreciated reason behind current lack of priests.

The three main phases are the central focus of the book. In the first one author tries to show that the official Church has lied about its treatment of Jews and its assumed silence during the Holocaust. He implies that an organization able to lie about that could and might lie about anything. The author then speaks about alleged doctrinal dishonesties regular for Catholicism. Also he states that the concept of Truth itself is discredited by the truth-claims and power of the Church. The problem however occurs when we look closed at those claims, we might notice that those three subjects are not necessarily linked, and one does not prove the correctness of the other. To Wills, though a supposed Catholic anti-Semitism is born from the same root of untruth as the Vatican’s rejection of womens ordination, its mandatory priestly celibacy, and “homophobia”, and its indisputable belief in papal infallibility.

Wills writes that Catholic Church was poisoned with anti-Jewish outlook for centuries. He turns to a 1928 decision by Pius XI to suppress a Catholic organization called the Friends of Israel. On its account the pope protested that the group did not take sufficient note of “the continual blindness of this people” and that its approach was “contrary to the sense and spirit the church, to the thought of the Holy Fathers and the liturgy.” Also Pius XI has distinguished between religious anti-Judaism, which was tolerated by the church, and its secular form, which was not. The book goes through a number of current critical issues within Catholicism. For instance the Vatican claims it cannot manage Communion to remarried divorcees, because that would compromise the truthfulness of sacrament founded by Christ. Wills however claims that for the first four centuries of church history, there was no concept of marriage as a punishment.