N.O. author works on ‘Secrets of the Vatican’ _lowres


New Orleans author and journalist Jason Berry worked in front of and behind the camera for PBS’ “Frontline” special, “Secrets of the Vatican.”

The 90-minute segment airs at 8 p.m. Tuesday on WLPB, Channel 27 (cable Channel 12 in Baton Rouge and Lafayette) and WYES, Channel 12 (cable Channel 12 in New Orleans).

The program takes an in-depth look at the collapse of Benedict XVI’s papacy, covering the clergy sex abuse crisis; money laundering and corruption at the Vatican Bank; and Vatileaks, the release of internal documents which included alleged blackmail within the Holy See.

Berry will be seen in an early part of the program focusing on Marcial Maciel, the leader of the powerful Legionaires of Christ order, who, despite allegations of sexually abusing boys and misappropriating money, was supported by the Vatican for years.

Berry talked to the priest’s son in 2011, and part of that interview will be featured.

“As co-producer (of ‘Secrets’) I worked with Antony Thomas, the director, on researching the film, locating footage, proposing scenarios for shooting, organizing the production schedule for the American sequences, and traveling with the director and crew for those shoots in Boston, Hartford, N.Y., and Milwaukee,” Berry said by email. “I didn’t participate in the Rome filming, though I had been there covering the conclave for GlobalPost and provided research from my coverage of Pope Francis and the Vatican Bank, which I dealt with in my 2011 book, ‘Render unto Rome (The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church).’

Berry said with Thomas living in London, they worked together through emails and phone calls, from scripting and editing to the final cuts of the program last week.

Berry is well-known for his reporting on the Catholic Church crisis in the books “Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children” and “Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II,” written with Gerald Renner. Berry is working on a book about New Orleans, he said.