Cover image for Agony in the garden : sex, lies, and redemption from the troubled heart of the American Catholic Church
Agony in the garden : sex, lies, and redemption from the troubled heart of the American Catholic Church
Van der Zee, John.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Thunder's Mouth Press/Nations Books ; [Place of publication not identified] : Distributed by Publishers Group West, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxiv, 275 pages ; 21 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BX1912.9 .V36 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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A monsignor, convicted of molestation, is imprisoned; a priest flees the country after repeated molestation charges; another commits suicide. A former priest and youth ministry leader is charged with rape and committing lewd acts against minors in a series of complaints dating back several decades. A charismatic Bishop resigns amid charges of sexual harassment and coercion brought by a priest who had himself been dismissed after being accused of stealing from church collections, and after a long career as a con artist. Welcome to the Catholic diocese of Santa Rosa, California.... In this powerful and compelling work, John van der Zee tells the story of Bishop George Patrick Ziemann's tortured relationship with con artist priest Father Jorge Hume Salas, the ensuing sexual and financial scandal that, ironically, thanks to a popular insurgency by rank and file Santa Rosa Catholics, enabled the diocese and the church to revitalize itself.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Van der Zee details the horrific scandals that plagued the Roman Catholic diocese of Santa Rosa, California, in the late 1990s. Santa Rosa's moral and fiscal problems began at the top and trickled down, creating a perverted tangle of sexual abuse, embezzlement, and pastoral corruption that proved difficult to unravel. At the center of the cycle of abuse stood Bishop George Patrick Ziemann, seemingly well regarded by both his sprawling flock and the church hierarchy. Unfortunately, Ziemann lived a double life, conducting an illicit affair with a local priest who had never graduated from a seminary. In addition, the bishop was siphoning off church funds to keep his lover happy. Peeling through the layers of deceitfulness and betrayal, the author also exposes the startling number of known abusers assigned to the Santa Rosa diocese. Related in a dispassionate reporter's style, this tale of clerical arrogance and abuse will still make your hair stand on end. Margaret Flanagan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Van der Zee (Blood Brotherhood; The Gate) dissects the ongoing problems of the Catholic Church with this salacious case study of a corrupt Northern California parish. Its problems included a thieving, pedophile priest and a self-serving bishop who kept that priest as a sex slave while helping a charismatic monsignor bilk the church out of a cool $13 million. The author begins by outlining the relationship between Jorge Hume Salas, a Mexican priest who was hired by the Santa Rosa parish despite his questionable background, and Bishop Patrick Ziemann, the charismatic leader who used Hume for sex in a relationship that led to a series of civil suits by Hume after their trysts were exposed. The corruption angle surfaced when Hume began stealing from the collection basket, and a police sting caught the cleric in the act. While the various molestation stories are all too familiar at this point, the most fascinating aspect of this expos revolves around the financial chicanery of Monsignor Keys. This brilliant money man shuttled funds between church accounts in an ongoing shell game while introducing a revelatory financial product that became the focal point for a heated legal battle between the church and several local businessmen. Van der Zee tells his story via the analytical techniques of a crack investigative reporter, filling in enough character material to make this true crime story a compelling read. The lurid, labyrinthine story line gives the book a level of suspense beyond that of many contemporary thrillers. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved