March 26, 2021

James Carroll

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes JAMES CARROLL—celebrated columnist for the Boston Globe and author of the National Book Award–winning memoir An American Requiem—for a discussion of his latest book, The Truth at the Heart of the Lie: How the Catholic Church Lost Its Soul. He will be joined in conversation by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist MIKE REZENDES.


James Carroll weaves together the story of his quest to understand his personal beliefs and his relationship to the Catholic Church with the history of the Church itself. From his first awakening of faith as a boy to his gradual disillusionment as a Catholic, Carroll offers a razor-sharp examination both of himself and of how the Church became an institution that places power and dominance over people through an all-male clergy.

Carroll argues that a male-supremacist clericalism is both the root cause and the ongoing enabler of the sexual abuse crisis. The power structure of clericalism poses an existential threat to the Church and compromises the ability of even a progressive pope like Pope Francis to advance change in an institution accountable only to itself. Carroll traces this dilemma back to the Roman Empire and the Middle Ages, when Scripture, Jesus Christ, and His teachings were reinterpreted as the Church became an empire. In a deeply personal re-examination of self, Carroll grapples with his own feelings of being chosen, his experiences as a priest, and the moments of doubt that made him leave the priesthood and embark on a long personal journey toward renewal—including his tenure as an op-ed columnist at the Boston Globe writing about sexual abuse in the Church.

Ultimately, Carroll calls on the Church and all reform-minded Catholics to revive the culture from within by embracing anti-clerical, anti-misogynist resistance and staying grounded in the spirit of love that is the essential truth at the heart of Christian belief and Christian life.

About Author(s)

James Carroll is the author of twelve novels, and eight works of non-fiction. For twenty-three years, he wrote an oped column for The Boston Globe, and his work has appeared in The New YorkerThe Atlantic, and other publications. He has received the National Book Award, the PEN Galbraith Award, and the Scripps Howard Award. In 2021, he will publish The Truth at the Heart of the Lie: How the Catholic Church Lost its Soul. He lives in Boston with his wife, the writer Alexandra Marshall.

Mike Rezendes is a senior investigative reporter with the global investigations team at The Associated Press. Previously, he worked for the Boston Globe Spotlight Team where he shared a Pulitzer Prize for revealing the cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Mike has also been a Pulitzer Prize finalist twice, once for an investigation of the debt collection industry, and more recently for an exposé of the mental health care system in Massachusetts. In 2015, he was played by Mark Ruffalo in the Academy Award-winning movie, Spotlight.