Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Book Review: Pope Francis in His Own Words

The Darwin family is on one of its road trip vacations, so posting has been rather light. However, there's no better time than vacation to catch up on reading, and thus on book reviews.

Like a lot of Catholic bibliophiles, I've been eager to get to know Pope Francis by reading his writings. This is a little tricky, as at the time of his election not a single one of Bergoglio's books (and there aren't many) was available in English. Thus, I jumped at the chance to get a review copy of Pope Francis in His Own Words from New World Library.

Whether this book appeals to you is going to depend a great deal on what sort of book you are looking for. This is not a unified theological work, it's a collection of quotes (most of them one to three sentences) from articles, homilities, addresses and interviews with Bergoglio over the years and from his earliest papal addresses. Most of them are comparatively recent (1999 to 2013) and they are organized by topic. For example, under "On Poverty" there are two quotes:

"A community that stops kneeling before the rich, before success and prestige, and which is capable, instead, of washing the feet of the humble and those in need, will be more aligned with [God's] teaching than the winner-at-any-price ethic that we've learned -- badly -- in recent times."

Annual Message to Educational Communities, Easter 2002

"Is there anything more humiliating than being condemned [to an existence in which] you can't earn your daily bread?"

Annual Message to Educational Communities, Easter 2002

As you can see, these are not mini essays on various topics as in John Paul II's Crossing the Theshold of Hope. They are more on the order of short quotes, the sort collection you'd pick up once a day to read a quote or two from, not the sort of book that you'd sit down and read cover to cover.

The quotes are very accessible and often throught provoking. A few strike me as being so short and out of context as to be simply stating the obvious. For instance, under "On Atheists" appears the quote:

"[I] know more agnostics than atheists; the first is more undecided, the second, more convinced."

Sobre el Cielo y la Tierra, 2010

Well, yes. That's definitionally true, but not necessarily worth pulling as a quote. However, most of this fairly short book (90 pages of quotes and then a short chronology of Pope Francis's life, followed by a long attribution section) is not filler of that sort.

This is not the book of Pope Francis's writing that I've been waiting for. However, if you or someone you know enjoys a collection of short, inspirational "thought of the day" pieces, this may be a good acquisition or gift.

1 comment:

at said...

Several of his homilies have been translated here:

I don't know whether the blogger plans to continue, but I've found it to be a very nice resource so far.