Books

The Political Pope: How Pope Francis Is Delighting the Liberal Left and Abandoning Conservatives
by George Neumayr.
Center Street (May 2, 2017)

Pope Francis is the most liberal pope in the history of the Catholic Church. He is not only championing the causes of the global Left, but also undermining centuries-old Catholic teaching and practice. In the words of the late radical Tom Hayden, his election was "more miraculous, if you will, than the rise of Barack Obama in 2008."

But to Catholics in the pews, his pontificate is a source of alienation. It is a pontificate, at times, beyond parody: Francis is the first pope to approve of adultery, flirt with proposals to bless gay marriages and cohabitation, tell atheists not to convert, tell Catholics to not breed "like rabbits," praise the Koran, support a secularized Europe, and celebrate Martin Luther.

At a time of widespread moral relativism, Pope Francis is not defending the Church's teachings but diluting them. At a time of Christian persecution, he is not strengthening Catholic identity but weakening it. Where other popes sought to save souls, he prefers to "save the planet" and play politics, from habitual capitalism-bashing to his support for open borders and pacifism.

In THE POLITICAL POPE, George Neumayr gives readers what the media won't: a bracing look at the liberal revolution that Pope Francis is advancing in the Church. To the radical academic Cornel West, "Pope Francis is a gift from heaven." To many conservative Catholics, he is the worst pope in centuries.

Pilgrimage: My Search for the Real Pope Francis
by Mark K. Shriver.
Random House (November 29, 2016).

In Pilgrimage, Shriver retraces Francis’s personal journey, revealing the origins of his open, unpretentious style and explaining how it revitalized Shriver’s own faith and renewed his commitment to the Church. To help us understand how Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis, Shriver travels to Bergoglio’s native Argentina to meet with the people who knew him as a child, as a young Jesuit priest, and as a reformist bishop. Shriver visits the confessional where Bergoglio first felt called to a faith-based life and takes us to the humble parish where the future pontiff’s pastoral career began: in a church created from a converted vegetable shed in an area just outside the city of Buenos Aires. In these impoverished surroundings, Bergoglio answered Christ’s call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and shelter the homeless, following the example set by his papal namesake, St. Francis of Assisi.

In this deeply reported yet highly personal book, Mark K. Shriver explores how Francis's commitment has struck a chord in the hearts of millions who long to make faith, love, humility, and mercy part of their lives as they go out into the world to serve and learn from the most marginalized.

The Roots of Pope Francis's Social and Political Thought: From Argentina to the Vatican
by Thomas O. Rourke.
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (August 30, 2016).

Thomas R. Rourke traces the development of Pope Francis’s thinking from his time as a Jesuit provincial through today. Meticulously researched, the book draws on decades of previously untranslated writings from Father Jorge Bergoglio, SJ, who went on to become Archbishop and Cardinal, as well as recent writings as Pope.

The book explores the deepest roots of Pope Francis’s thinking, beginning with the experience of the Jesuit missions in Argentina (1500s – 1700s), showing how both the success and tragedy of the missions profoundly formed his social and political views. Subsequent chapters explore influences from the Second Vatican Council through today regarding culture, politics, and economics. In Pope Francis’s understanding, there is a perpetual tension between the attempts to redeem the social order through the Gospel and the never-ending attempts to dominate peoples and their lands through a variety of imperial projects that come from the powerful. What emerges is a profoundly Christian approach to the social, political, and economic problems of our time. The Pope is portrayed as an original thinker, independent of ideological currents, rooted in the Gospels and the tradition of Catholic social thought. In a time of division and violence, the writings of Pope Francis often point to the path of peace and justice.

This Economy Kills: Pope Francis on Capitalism and Social Justice
by Andrea Tornielli (Author), Giacomo Galeazzi (Author).
Liturgical Press (August 17, 2015). 184 pgs.

When Pope Francis wrote in his apostolic letter The Joy of the Gospel that the economy of the West is one that “kills,” he was immediately labeled by some as a Marxist. Criticisms came fast and furious, not only from financial columnists and conservative cable personalities, but also from some Catholic commentators, especially in the United States.

In This Economy Kills, two of the most respected journalists covering the Vatican today explore the Pope’s teaching and witness on the topic; the ways it relates to other topics like war, the environment, and family life; its connections to the teaching of his predecessors; and the criticism it has generated, especially from the direction of the United States. This fascinating book includes the full text of an extended interview the authors conducted with Francis on the topic of capitalism and social justice, appearing here in English for the first time.

This Economy Kills is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand Pope Francis’s convictions about the world we live in and the way he believes Christians are called to shape it.

Pope Francis Among the Wolves: The Inside Story of a Revolution, by Marco Politi (Author), William McCuaig (Translator).
Columbia University Press; Tra edition (September 15, 2015). 288 pgs.

Marco Politi takes us deep inside the power struggle roiling the Roman Curia and the Catholic Church worldwide, beginning with Benedict XVI, the pope who famously resigned in 2013, and intensifying with the contested and unexpected election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, now known as Pope Francis. Politi's account balances the perspectives of Pope Francis's supporters, Benedict's sympathizers, and those disappointed members of the Catholic laity who feel alienated by the institution's secrecy, financial corruption, and refusal to modernize.

Politi dramatically recounts the sexual scandals that have rocked the church and the accusations of money laundering and other financial misdeeds swirling around the Vatican and the Italian Catholic establishment. Pope Francis has tried to shine a light on these crimes, but his work has been met with resistance from entrenched factions. Politi writes of the decline in church attendance and vocations to the priesthood throughout the world as the church continues to prohibit divorced and remarried Catholics from receiving the communion wafer. He visits European parishes where women now perform the functions of missing male priests--and where the remaining parishioners would welcome the admission of women to the priesthood, if the church would allow it.

Pope Francis's emphasis on pastoral compassion for all who struggle with the burden of family life has also provoked the ire of traditionalists in the Roman Curia and elsewhere. He knows from personal experience what life is like for the poor in Buenos Aires and other metropolises of the globalized world, and highlights the contrast between the vital, vibrant faith of these parishioners and the disillusionment of European Catholics. Pope Francis and his supporters are locked in a battle with the defenders of the traditional hard line and with ecclesiastical corruption. In this conflict, the future of Catholicism is at stake--and it is far from certain Francis will succeed in saving the institution from decline.

Pope Francis: The Legacy of Vatican II
by Eduardo J. Echeverria.
Lectio Publishing LLC (June 27, 2015).

Christians, some Catholics and Protestants alike, have tended to use Francis's pronouncements to justify the correctness of their own viewpoints on Vatican Council II and other theological matters. Professor Echeverria has read widely in Francis, and gets at where Francis really stands with respect to Vatican II. He does a thorough job of drawing on Francis's own pre-papal and papal writings, talks, and sermons to discover and document the continuity in Francis's thought with the council. Additionally, Echeverria compares Francis's discourse with that of his papal predecessors in the era since Vatican II and draws heavily on the documents of Vatican II and the theology of doctrinal development stemming from the First Vatican Council and embraced by Vatican II. Not left out is the modern ecumenical movement from both the Reformed and Catholic side. A text made for seminarians and divinity students, this book is also for those who wish to understand the 'real' Pope Francis and his legacy of Vatican II.
Bergoglio's List: How a Young Francis Defied a Dictatorship and Saved Dozens of Lives
by Nello Scavo (Author), Bret Thoman (Translator).

Saint Benedict Press (September 28, 2014). 200 pgs.

In 1976 when Fr. Jorge Bergoglio was just 39 years old and serving as provincial superior of the Jesuits of Argentina, the military overthrew the government in a coup. The dictatorship went to work against subversives and communist adversaries through abductions, tortures, and even murders, resulting in the disappearance of about 30,000 people.

Much has been made about the mysteries of Bergoglio’s actions during this time of upheaval. Did he fail to act against human rights violations out of fear or weakness? Was he guilty of delivering opponents into the hands of the regime? Or, did his courage and compassion prompt him to save lives?

These are the questions that Italian legal journalist, Nello Scavo, set out to Argentina to answer. He had no idea of the remarkable truth his investigation would reveal.

Scavo uncovers how Bergoglio built an elaborate network consisting of clandestine passageways, secret hideouts, and covert automobile rides, all in attempt to save what has been estimated at more than 100 people from torture, imprisonment, and even death.

Bergoglio’s List is a collection of personal stories from those who knew the now-Pope during the days of the dictatorship [...]

For the first time in English, experience not only the untold story of Bergoglio’s courage and heroism, but gain an insider’s view of the place where he was born and grew into a man -- the man we now know as Pope Francis.

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Pope Francis: Tradition in Transition
by Massimo Faggioli.
Paulist Press (May 1, 2015) 96 pgs.

The election of Pope Francis represents not only a great historical event, but also a key moment for understanding the direction of the Catholic Church. In this illuminating work, Massimo Faggioli offers his unique insight into the pontificate of Pope Francis.

This is not a biography of Pope Francis, nor a complete chronicle of the early months of his pontificate. It is, rather, an attempt to capture some special moments and some key issues at the heart of the transition from Pope Benedict XVI to Francis, with the intuition that this unexpected transition how it is carried out, and what it has given rise to reveals something which is not only a special Catholic event, but also a particular historical moment in a tradition in flux: a tradition that touches the contemporary world far beyond the borders of Rome and Roman Catholicism.

The Preaching of Pope Francis: Missionary Discipleship and the Ministry of the Word
by Gregory Heille OP.
Liturgical Press (March 15, 2015).

Since the beginning of his pontificate, Pope Francis has encouraged, inspired, and delighted those who have heard him preach. Especially fascinating have been his plain-spoken and insightful weekday morning Mass homilies. He has also offered the church a substantial contribution on the theory and practice of homiletics in a large section of his first major teaching document, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). In The Preaching of Pope Francis, Gregory Heille, OP, introduces readers to the Pope’s preaching, his insights about the preaching vocation of the ordained, and his call to all the baptized to go to the margins as missionary disciples and evangelists of the Word.

Heille, a highly regarded professor of homiletics and preacher himself, offers an inspiring and practical resource for priests, deacons, and anyone involved in the ministry of preaching. He shares the Pope’s vision and example for the preparation and delivery of effective and engaging homilies and for laity invested in the Church’s ministry of the Word in a post-Vatican II pastoral context.

The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope
by Austen Ivereigh
Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (November 25, 2014). 464 pgs.

A biography of Pope Francis that describes how this revolutionary thinker will use the power of his position to challenge and redirect one of the world's most formidable religions

An expansive and deeply contextual work, at its heart The Great Reformer is about the intersection of faith and politics--the tension between the pope’s innovative vision for the Church and the obstacles he faces in an institution still strongly defined by its conservative past. Based on extensive interviews in Argentina and years of study of the Catholic Church, Ivereigh tells the story not only of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the remarkable man whose background and total commitment to the discernment of God’s will transformed him into Pope Francis--but the story of why the Catholic Church chose him as their leader.

With the Francis Revolution just beginning, this biography will provide never-before-explained context on how one man’s ambitious program began--and how it will likely end--through an investigation of Francis’s youth growing up in Buenos Aires and the dramatic events during the Perón era that shaped his beliefs; his ongoing conflicts and disillusionment with the ensuing doctrines of an authoritarian and militaristic government in the 1970s; how his Jesuit training in Argentina and Chile gave him a unique understanding and advocacy for a "Church of the Poor"; and his rise from Cardinal to the papacy.

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Pope Francis: Life and Revolution: A Biography of Jorge Bergoglio by Elisabetta Pique.
Loyola Press (October 21, 2014) 328 pgs.

In Italy, they call him il Papa, which means “The Father.” Until his unprecedented election, author and friend Elisabetta Piqué called him Padre Jorge. He may have changed his name to become Pope Francis, but it did not change their friendship.

Since Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis in 2013, countless books have been written to help the world understand this deeply complex yet simple servant of God. What sets Pope Francis: Life and Revolution apart from all other biographies of Pope Francis is the careful research and original investigation behind it, along with the fact that it is written by an internationally respected journalist—Elisabetta Piqué—who has remained close to the Pope since first meeting him back in 2001.

Over 75 individuals were interviewed for Pope Francis: Life and Revolution, including lay people, priests, bishops, and cardinals who have known or worked with Francis at various times in his life. Insights from these people, as well as from friends and family members, allow us to see a profoundly personal side of the Pope. His humility and humanity, courage and conviction, and warmth and wisdom are revealed as Piqué shares little-known episodes from Francis’s life.

With a foreword by Cardinal Seán O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., Pope Francis: Life and Revolution is the definitive resource and narrative of a man personally known by few and revered and respected by many.

Pope Francis: Life and Revolution reveals a man consistent in his beliefs and actions. He is a spiritual leader unwavering in his love for God, whose inner joy and peace move him—and can inspire us—to serve the least, the last, and the lost.

A Big Heart Open to God: A Conversation with Pope Francis
Harper, 160 pgs. (December 2013).

The world was shocked when Jesuit magazines across the globe simultaneously released an exclusive interview with Pope Francis, just six months into his historic papacy. Within minutes of its release, the interview dominated the worldwide media. In a wide-ranging conversation, Pope Francis spoke movingly about his spiritual life, his hopes for church reform, his open-minded stance toward gays and lesbians, his views on women, and even his favorite movies.

America magazine, where the idea for the interview originated, commissioned a team of five Italian-language experts to ensure that the pope's words were transmitted accurately into English. Now this remarkable, historic, and moving interview is available in book form.

In addition to the full papal interview conducted by Antonio Spadaro, SJ, on behalf of the Jesuit journals, A Big Heart Open to God includes an introduction by the editor in chief of America, Matt Malone, SJ, describing the genesis of the interview, a series of responses by a diverse range of Catholic voices, and a spiritual refection on the interview by James Martin, SJ, author of The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything. In his refection, Father Martin helps readers use the pope's powerful comments as a foundation for personal prayer.

In this historic interview, Pope Francis's vision for the church and humanity itself is delivered through a warm and intimate conversation, and he shows us all how to have a big heart open to God.

Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope on March 13, 2013, taking the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi. His priestly ordination was in 1969, and in 1992, he was consecrated auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires and given the titular see of Auca. He became Buenos Aires’s coadjutor bishop in 1997, succeeded as the see’s archbishop the following year, and was elevated to cardinal in 2001. He is the author of The Power to Serve.

Gustavo Larrázabal, CMF, is a Claretian missionary from Argentina. He is the former publisher of Claretian Publications of Buenos Aires. As the editor of the works of Cardinal Bergoglio, he is also a close friend.

Joseph Owens, SJ, is a Jesuit who has spent most of his active career working in the Caribbean and Central America. His various ministries have included grass-roots organizing, pastoral work, radio apostolate, and teaching.

Pope Francis: Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio: His Life in His Own Words
by Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti.
Putnam, 2013.

Elected in one of the shortest conclaves in history, the former Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina reveals, in a series of extensive interviews conducted over the course of two years, the very image of a humble priest, inspired teacher, and wise and adroit cardinal. What emerges is a portrait of a man more interested in substance over style, a compassionate cleric and teacher who has shunned the spotlight. In spontaneous, intimate terms, Archbishop Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, covers topics as wide-ranging as his childhood, family life, and the importance of his first job to discovering his calling and his early days in the seminary. The former archbishop was a teacher of psychology and literature until John Paul II consecrated him as a cardinal. He befriended writers like Jorge Luis Borges and cites Homer, Cervantes, and German and Italian poets with ease and offers nuanced thoughts about teaching. Thoughtful, intelligent, and even witty, he names Babette's Feast as his favorite movie and Marc Chagall as his favorite painter.

A learned and introspective man, he does not avoid the uncomfortable subjects: the declining numbers of priests and nuns; celibacy; the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the Church; and his opinions about and experience with the military dictatorship of his own crisis-riddled country. It also discusses the incredible role he played in the last conclave, where he is said to have been tied with Ratzinger in the second of three votes, and asked that the votes for him be transferred to Ratzinger.

Through his own words, we come to know a man whose actions and words reflect his deeply-rooted humility. The book concludes with the Pope's own writings and reflections, full of wisdom and inspiration.

Pray for Me: The Life and Spiritual Vision of Pope Francis, First Pope from the Americas
By Robert Moynihan.
Image, 2013.

In PRAY FOR ME: The Life and Spiritual Vision of Pope Francis, First Pope From the Americas (Image Books, April 30, 2013) Dr. Robert Moynihan, founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, offers an introduction to the life and work of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis.

"This is an exciting time not only for the Church but for the world," said Gary Jansen, editor of Image Books, the Catholic interest imprint of Random House, Inc. "The election of the world’s first Latin American pope, a man of Italian heritage, means a bridging of the Northern and Southern hemispheres in a way we’ve never seen and signifies a new global vision for the 1.2 billion people who call themselves Catholic."

Moynihan’s book will give readers an insight into the spiritual vision of the new pontiff with a look at his most inspirational teachings on God, Jesus, marriage and family, life, prayer, religious freedom, and more.

Dr. Robert Moynihan is founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, a monthly journal on Church and world affairs from Rome. He is regarded as one of the world's leading Vatican analysts.He received his Ph.D. in medieval studies from Yale University and divides his time between Rome and Front Royal, Virginia.

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Pope Francis in His Own Words
Edited by Julie Schwietert Collazo and Lisa Rogak.

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On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century
by Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Abraham Skorka.

From the man who became Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio shares his thoughts on religion, reason, and the challenges the world faces in the 21st century with Abraham Skorka, a rabbi and biophysicist.

For years Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Argentina, and Rabbi Abraham Skorka were tenacious promoters of interreligious dialogues on faith and reason. They both sought to build bridges among Catholicism, Judaism, and the world at large. On Heaven and Earth, originally published in Argentina in 2010, brings together a series of these conversations where both men talked about various theological and worldly issues, including God, fundamentalism, atheism, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, same-sex marriage, and globalization. From these personal and accessible talks comes a first-hand view of the man who would become pope to 1.2 billion Catholics around the world in March 2013.

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Francis: Pope of a New World
by Andrea Tornielli.

"Francis, rebuild my Church!" That is how St. Francis of Assisi heard the call of Christ. It is also how Jorge Mario Bergoglio, at the age of 76, and a Jesuit, seems to have accepted his election to the papacy with the choice of a name that no other pope has ever chosen.

Who is Pope Francis, elected in one of the shortest conclaves in history? Who is the man chosen to be the first pope from the Americas and the first Jesuit pope?

How does he see the world and his ministry? How does he understand his call to serve Christ, his Church, and the world? In short, what is the mind and heart of this new pope of a new world--of the Americas and the rest of the world of the 21st Century?

In the words, the ideas, and the personal recollections of Pope Francis--including material up to the final hours before his election--the most highly regarded Vatican observer on the international scene reveals the personality of this man of God, gentle and humble. The son of Italian immigrants to Argentina, he made radically following Christ and the way of non-violence the pillars of his pastoral ministry in a country, continually tormented by social and economic inequities.

This complete biography offers the keys to understanding the man who was a surprise choice, even a kind of revolutionary choice, for pope. It is the story of the humble pastor of one of the world's largest archdioceses; a cardinal who takes the bus, talks with common folk, and lives simply. It is the story of why the cardinal electors of the Catholic Church set aside political and diplomatic calculations to elect a pope to lead the renewal and purification of the worldwide Church of our time.

"Brothers and Sisters, before the bishop blesses the people, I ask you to pray to God that he will bless your bishop." - Pope Francis

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