Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Time Special Edition book "Francis: The Pope's Bold Message Comes to America"

Time Magazine sells, in supermarkets, a Special Edition glossy large-page book, “Francis: The Pope’s Bold Message Comes to America”, 96 pages, by John R. Allen, Jr. The author covers the Vatican for the Boston Globe.

The book has ten chapters and three inserted sidebars, one of them (“Kiss the Ring”) by Elizabeth Dias.

The book is heavily illustrated with very full photos from around the world, but also has double-columned pages of text with no pictures.

The book traces Francis’s background, as a Jesuit, and as one who grew up as a rough-and-tumble boy in Buenos Aries, and who even once had a girlfriend.  It also covers an unusual medical emergency for a young man in 1953, a strange kind of pneumonia that required surgery and was almost fatal.

The third chapter, “Moderate to an Extreme” would suggest the tone for how the book characterizes the Pope.

The Pope has tried to avoid condemning anyone’s inclinations or psychological makeup, while maintaining a traditional position on social issues.  But the Pope is more inclined to say that priests and congregations should be flexible on practical situations, like giving communion to same-sex couples.

But the most telling passage in the book may be a statement about the predecessor Joseph Ratzinger’s views, regarding “equality” for women (since they cannot hold many positions in the church but have their own, as nuns).  That is to say, end the “arms race with men . once and for all and reject power as the only way to evaluate one’s worth or dignity.”  That comports with Francis’s interest in working with the poor on a personal level, and with emphasizing compassion over more common ideas of virtue and personal merit.

The book does not get into family values as much as Francis did in Philadelphia, where he recognized that many people today have learned to live without familial intimacy or commitment but where he says the trend does not bode well for the future (my main blog, yesterday).
The book discusses the Pope’s monitoring of the Middle East in some detail, and also his push for financial reform in the Vatican.

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