Pope Francis: Life and Revolution
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“. . .an intimate portrait of “Padre Jorge” . . .”
While the whole world reacted with surprise by the choice of Jorge Bergoglio as pope in 2013 after Pope Benedict’s unexpected retirement, no one could have been more astounded than the Argentinian Cardinal himself. In Pope Francis: Life and Revolution, Vatican journalist Elisabetta Pique offers an intimate portrait of “Padre Jorge” from his earliest days in the priesthood to his ascension to the papacy.
Bergoglio first felt his calling to the priesthood at age seventeen. His father had immigrated from Italy in the 1920s and the family was solidly middle-class. However, as the oldest of five children Jorge worked hard to help his family. His grandmother and parents instilled within him a deep faith, and Jorge wanted to serve the poor and hurting of Buenos Aires as well as in the mission fields. Joining the Jesuit order at age twenty-one, he became noted for both his intelligence and people skills. It wasn’t long before Padre Jorge found himself being promoted to positions of responsibility. Still, no matter where or how the church asked him to serve, Padre Jorge never lost his connections with his old friends and the needy people of his community.
The political upheaval of 1970s Argentina brought Bergoglio both critics and fans. Walking the tight rope between the military junta and the “liberation theology” of some Jesuits who advocated taking up arms, Padre Jorge helped many to escape death or imprisonment while keeping an open dialogue with the government. Those who owe their lives to his brave actions are very happy to see this faith-filled man—who never once sought glory or fame—become pope. Taking the name of Francis, the new pope has skipped donning the red shoes and gold crucifix of office and maintains the friendly accessibility of a parish priest in the style of St. Francis of Assisi.
Pique paints a strong picture of the man whose “revolution” in the papacy has been immediate and hopefully will be long-lasting.
Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews