Church, Interrupted: Havoc & Hope: The Tender Revolt of Pope Francis

John Cornwell. Chronicle Prism, $27.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-79720-201-3
British historian Cornwell (A Pontiff in Winter) offers a comprehensive and evenhanded appraisal of the first seven years of Pope Francis’s papacy. The book opens with the issues facing Francis at his election, including a “dysfunctional Church” with shrinking numbers of active members and the ongoing influence of the Benedictine tradition in Rome. Exploring Francis’s early actions to combat corrosive gossip and institute disruptive changes, Cromwell praises the pope’s ability to “hold opposites in tension” with “bold prudence” as he reorients the Church toward serving the poor. Cornwell also addresses the difficulties Francis has encountered with the sex abuse scandal (specifically lagging reforms in Chile). Francis, unlike his predecessors, has pushed for greater interfaith dialogue, especially with Jews, and weathered criticism from conservative Catholics on a variety of issues, such as his stance on allowing communion for remarried Catholics and his Laudato Si encyclical addressing environmental degradation. Cornwell optimistically considers how lasting the “Francis effect” will be, comparing him favorably to seventh-century pope Gregory the Great, whose “readiness to abase himself, confess his mistakes, his ignorance, his fallibility, and sinfulness... shook up the office of the papacy with reverberations right down to the twenty-first century.” This thoughtful consideration of Francis’s early actions and influence will appeal to anyone interested in the challenges facing the Catholic church in the contemporary era. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 01/06/2021
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Religion
Book - 978-1-7972-0361-4
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