One of the pleasures of writing for Our Sunday Visitor, either as a freelancer (or pamphleteer!) or as a columnist for The Catholic Answer has been getting to know the great people who make up their editorial staff. Catching a meal with Greg Erlandson in Rome (or a papal audience with Sarah Hayes) only made them more memorable, and working with Dr. Matthew Bunson, who edits TCA is a joy. I haven’t fully made a deadline yet, and he’s been a very patient fellow about it, indeed!
But even if he were not patient, I would still want to recommend his new book to you (and I am only sorry that, deadline-challenged as I am, lately, I am not the first to do so) and I will tell you why:
Because in a mere 224 pages, the book gives you a comprehensive breakdown of everything we have seen over the course of the past not-quite eight weeks, from Pope Benedict’s stunning announcement of his renunciation, through to the election of Francis, and…well, as far “beyond” that as reason can bring us. The book gives us bio and background on the new pope and Bunson, who is an expert on papal histories, gives a sense of what Francis is capable of in terms of both evangelization and reform.
In fact, to get a jump on Bunson’s analysis of Francis’ bridge-building strengths and what issues the new pontiff is likely to emphasize, you can catch Bunson’s interview with Radio Vaticana, here.
I read the book overnight, because once I got it in my hands, it was such a pleasure to be able to read the background stories and comments, read the full texts of speeches and remarks that had seemed to come so fast and hard, and from so many sides, after Benedict’s resignation and in anticipation of the conclave. Covering things here on the blog, I wasn’t always able to digest them in a leisurely and thoughtful fashion, so I appreciated their inclusions in the book.
Pope Francis is a fast release, so it’s available on Kindle or it may be ordered here. This first English-language book on Francis is a great little snapshot and keepsake of a unique moment in church history and a good chance to start getting to know a pope who may well be transformational, for the church and the world. I highly recommend it!
Dang it, even Jeff Miller beat me to the review! He is especially appreciative of the Argentine bio material:
. . .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.