Review: Pope Francis by Matthew Bunson

Earlier this week Pope Francis written by Matthew Bunson and published by Our Sunday Visitor was released. As I had written when reviewing Francis: Pope of a New World is that you expect some flaws and lack of depth for a book that quickly comes to market. In many ways this book gets passed some of those problems and is also a bit fuller when it comes to the life of Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

This book provides a detailed snapshot of the time leading up to the election along with the necessary coverage of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI resignation. The first chapters are rather detailed with both historical information, but also containing the full texts that the Pope Francis delivered. The rest of the book takes a deeper look at his roots and his years as a Priest, Bishop, Archbishop and then Cardinal.

I had heard the author of this book being interviewed concerning it and as I remember he said that one of his goals was to provide context concerning the life of our new Pope. I believe he succeeded at this since you get a much better sense of Argentina with its founding history and specifically the history of Argentina during the life of Jorge Mario Bergoglio. The context of his priestly vocation lived out in those years also gets a bit more depth than I have read before. Going beyond just the highlights that have been concentrated on to more of the concrete ways he lived his vocation and dealt with difficulties. This book also takes a look at the homilies he preached as the Cardinal of Buenos Aires and the responses to events that often informed them. You can clearly see the Pope’s style of a directness that punctuates while coming back to the central theme repeatedly.

I enjoyed the background information that provided the context and put into perspective strings of events reported on in recent weeks. So while this book excelled at background perspective and a more detailed look at his life, if fell short when it comes to personal stories about those years in Buenos Aires. Lacking was any idea of the Pope’s sense of humor or descriptions about him from those who knew him. I liked Francis: Pope of a New World because there were some great personal stories regarding him. Although the source of many of these stories were pulled from “El Jesuita” by journalists Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti and the book “Pope Francis” only references this other book once.

Really I found both of these books to be nice companions to the other where each book had different strengths and they nicely balanced each other’s weaknesses.

About Jeff Miller

Jeff Miller is a former atheist who after spending forty years in the wilderness finds himself with both astonishment and joy a member of the Catholic Church. A retired Navy Chief who now makes his living as an application developer.


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