This new book by Austen Ivereigh offers an affectionate examination of the making of a Gospel radical, whose electrifying pontificate has stunned the world, writes Kathryn Jean Lopez for the National Review Online.
The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope by Austen Ivereigh (Allen & Unwin).
My friend Austen Ivereigh’s book, The Great Reformer has now been released in the United States.
It’s a good read, providing a better understanding of this man from Argentina, Jose Mario Bergoglio, the first pope from the Americas, who would take the name Francis (which while welcome was really quite radical in itself).
Austen is clearly fond of Pope Francis and sees him as a great gift and opportunity. But not because he is a radical rupture with the past. The Great Reformer overflows with a love for the Church and the Pope Emeritus Benedict (reflecting Pope Francis’s own attitude of gratitude toward him and his spiritual and intellectual gifts and humble leadership), a knowledge of humanity and power and politics, as well as a trust in the Holy Spirit.
The book reflects tremendous research and knowledge of Argentina, of the Jesuits – and Austen’s a great writer. At times the book reads like a novel, but not in a reckless or over-the-top way. The drama of life is dynamic enough! The Great Reformer is a rooted, lively, insightful read.
As Austen explains his “curiosity” about Francis, who he almost immediately found fascinating – as so many did and have – in the intro to his book:
"What I really wanted to know was who he was, how he thought, how being a Jesuit shaped him, where he stood among all those controversies I had studied so long ago.
"In those first hundred days of the electrifying Francis Pontificate, he had taken the Vatican, and the world, by storm – flipping the omelet, as he liked to say. People were trying to fit him into straitjackets that just didn’t apply in Latin America, and even less in Argentina, where Peronism exploded the categories of left and right.
"The misreading had given rise to contradictory claims: A slum bishop who was cozy with the military dictatorship? A retrograde Jesuit who became a progressive bishop? Some tried to claim he was both, and 'converted' during his Cordoba exile in the early 1990s. Those in Argentina who knew him well said this just wasn’t true..."
Read full article: Pope Francis as the Gospel Radical He Is (National Review Online)