A few weeks ago Gianluigi Nuzzi, an Italian journalist, published a book called Merchants in the Temple in which he explained that the Vatican isn’t the bastion of goodness people like to think. Instead, it is a place of corruption, greed and nastiness where you can buy a sainthood for £500,000. I imagine he’s had a pretty iffy time since.
Still, he isn’t the first to suffer unpleasant fallout for telling the truth about a hugely powerful and deeply arrogant institution: if he wants advice on how to handle the next ten or 20 years he could do worse than talk to Bernard Connolly. Twenty years ago, Connolly — at the time a senior economist with the European Union — published The Rotten Heart of Europe, a pretty devastating look at just how badly wrong he thought the introduction of monetary union was likely to go. It was immediately read by his colleagues and it wasn’t much liked. Within days he was barred from his office (with his picture posted at the entrances just in case he tried to sneak in), and then fired.