Ohboy, another religio-conspiracy-spy novel! My favorite! Seriously, I eat these books up like they were made out of heroin and coated in chocolate. I’ve read a bunch of Daniel Silva in the past, and I really like his protagonist Gabriel Allon (who I always imagine being played by George Clooney in any movie-version of the books), a humble art-restorer by day and Israeli spy by night. Targets my demographic of art nerds, spy lovers, and devourers of fiction with quasi-religious subtext.
The Confessor deals with a new Pope’s attempts to broadcast the truth about the Vatican’s involvement in the Holocaust; which of course meets with stern objection by members of the Curia and associated “Secret Societies.” Oh man, how I love a good sub-Curia Secret Society. I can’t decide if it’s ironic, prescient, or presciently ironic that this effort comes from an Italian Pope elected after John Paul II who was witness to Nazi power – given that the current bearer of the fisherman’s ring was a member of the Hitler Youth.
(My opinion on that hasn’t changed. I still think this was a terrible PR move on the part of the Curia and honestly, while being a member of the Hitler Youth shouldn’t bar you from a future life of service to the Church, I think it should stop you from being Pope in that they couldn’t have chosen ANYONE who was NOT a member of said Nazi Youth Organization, even if it was “against his will.” Really, guys. Just own up to the fact that the only way one can over look this is if one is viewing the world through one’s transverse colon.)
The Papal intrigue combined with investigation of resulting murders by the Israeli Secret Service combines to make this book the 100% best (if fictional) discussion of the official Vatican response to the Holocaust that I’ve ever read. All sides are taken into account: Was this an intentional slight to the Jews, along the lines of official doctrine (since overturned) that the Jews killed Christ? Was this an unintentional oversight on the basis of appearing neutral? Was there a fear that offending German Catholics would make things worse? None? All of the above?
It’s very interesting to read fiction dealing with these themes in light of the continuing strain between the Vatican and the Jewish community. It seems like the Catholic Church can’t say anything on the subject without sticking their foots in their mouths. Whether or not there’s actual reasons for this, it does make for some interesting speculation.