Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Francis: Pope of a New World

In between school books I read Andrea Tornielli's Francis: Pope of a New World.

The book is one of those typical quickie biographies they produce when someone suddenly rises to fame. In addition, it was written quickly in Italian, then translated quickly into English. So in terms of the writing, it is flawed, sometimes a little awkward and repetitive. And it relies heavily on quoted texts - homilies, previous interview, talks, etc.

But I didn't read this little book (175 pages) for style or even depth: I was looking for some information about the Pope. The book served that purpose.

It pulled together various bits of information - some that I'd seen before, but some that was new. It is skimpy on biographical details, but it does give an overview. One thing you realize after reading this book is that his actions since becoming Pope of living simply, avoiding displays of wealth, reaching out to workers and common/average people, are not part of some deliberate pose. This is the way he has been his entire adult life.

One tidbit I had not encountered before (though I would guess it was out there) was his realization during confession on a long-ago September 21 that he was called to be a priest - and so he decided not to propose to the woman he had planned to propose to that very day. Imagine: If he hadn't gone to confession that day he might be a retired gent today playing with his great-grandchildren!

And among the new - at least to me - bits of information was a profession of faith he wrote shortly after being ordained.

"... I believe in my past," he wrote, " which was transfixed by God's look of love, on the first day of spring, September 21, he led me to an encounter to as to invite me to follow him.

"I believe in my suffering, sterile because of he egotism in which I take refuge. ..."

As I read this reflection (I've given only a snippet of it), I was reminded of Blessed Pope John XXIII's Journal of a Soul. But then, these two Popes do seem to have a lot in common.

If you are looking for a quick read to get some background, this book will suffice.

If you want something more in depth, wait until George Weigel gets some free time!

Pax et bonum


A Secular Franciscan said...

I also have "On Heaven and Earth" - his dialogue with Rabbi Abraham Skorka - and "Pope Francis: His Life in His Own Words," compiled form interviews over a two year span when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, on my "to-be-read" pile. I'll get to them eventually.

Charis said...