Make me an instrument of your peace." St. Francis of Assisi When the curtains were drawn and our new Holy Father stepped out into view of the 150,000 people waiting in St. Peter's Square, it was a humble and gentle man … see full wiki
"When I take part in the conclave, I will look for the one who--irrespective of where he comes from--is very holy, very intelligent, and has really a world vision, a breadth of vision, a person of compassion, who can reach out to people, and a person with courage, unafraid to speak the truth and face criticism for the sake of the Gospel." -- Cardinal Oswald Gracias - Mumbai, India
If these indeed were the qualities that the members of the College of Cardinals had in mind as they headed to the conclave on March 12, 2013, then it would certainly appear that they got their man. The person that they selected on the fifth ballot, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina would certainly seem to embody each and every one of these virtues. Yet his election was a surprise to virtually everyone. Matthew E. Bunson has chronicled one of the most extraordinary months in history of the Roman Catholic Church in his new book "Pope Francis". From the announcement of the unprecedented resignation of Pope Benedict XVI on February 11, 2013 to the election and installation of Pope Francis just a few weeks later Bunson gives his readers inside access to these historic events. Meanwhile, you will come to know the new Pope by way of a number of memorable stories from his days as a priest, bishop and Cardinal in Buenos Aires. By choosing the name Francis the new Pontiff has given us a strong hint of the direction his Pontificate will be taking.
While "Pope Francis" was never meant to be a comprehensive biography of Jorge Mario Bergoglio the book is certainly a great way to become acquainted with the new leader of the world's one billion Catholics. At the very beginning of the book Matthew Bunson has included an interesting four page "Chronology of Events" of the new pope's life. There are also sixteen pages of photos to peruse. For those interested in gaining insight into this good and humble man Matthew Bunson offers up a number of touching stories from his years in Buenos Aires. As you will discover he is truly "a man of the people" who has consistently lived a very holy and simple life. While Archbishop of Buenos Aires he cooked his own meals, lived in a small apartment and routinely rode the subway. Furthermore he has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to the poor. Having said that he believes that the Church is ultimately not a political institution but rather a spiritual one. From the outset and to the chagrin of some of the more liberal elements within the church Pope Francis is making it abundantly clear that the Catholic Church is not what he described as "a charitable NGO" like UNICEF. Rather, Francis told the media in his first meeting with them the "Christ remains the center, not the Successor of Peter; Christ, Christ is the center. Christ is the fundamental point of reference, the heart of the Church."
In the closing chapters of "Pope Francis" Matthew Bunson speculates as to what the priorities of the new Pontiff are likely to be. Clearly, continuing Pope Benedict's call for a New Evangelization would appear to be at the top of that list. Francis will also have to deal with reform of the Curia, the continuing sex abuse crisis and the needs of the global church. He certainly has a lot on his plate. For Catholics and non-Catholics alike "Pope Francis" would serve as a fine introduction to this fascinating new Pope. And as the author loves to point out he is a man of many "firsts". Matthew Bunson has certainly whetted my appetite and I intend to read a more extensive biography of the new Holy Father in the not too distant future. I found "Pope Francis" to be very well written and quite easy to read. Highly Recommended!