A Pope with his eye – and his mind – on the future

A Pope with his eye – and his mind – on the future Pope Francis speaking during Christmas 2020 in Rome.
Let us Dream: The Path to a Better Future

by Pope Francis with Austen Ivereigh
(Simon & Schuster (£10.99)

This new book by Pope Francis is a very striking one. It contains, which is unusual in Papal works, pages of autobiography of the three periods of his own personal moments of isolation, moments akin to that which millions are passing through with Covid-19.

But, it also contains comments on such things as the harsh treatment of the Uyghur’s in Xinxiang, with millions in concentration camps for reorientation.

The French edition of this book is entitled A Time to Change which is more imperative, more challenging  than the version here. Dreams are not enough, the Pope is suggesting, action is needed and all Catholics must be part of it.

One is reminded of that line in Yeats about our own troubled era now being marked: “In dreams begin responsibilities”. It is those unfaced up to responsibilities that present the greatest challenges to states, communities, institutions (such as the Church), and to individuals.

By one of those new departures that some would once have called providential, a Catholic president of the United State of America will be in office to take action. A practising Catholic, one imagines that President-Elect Joe Biden will have been reading this very book over the Christmastide.

The book breathes a personal warmth that will melt many an icy heart. Not so much a sign of the time, but a sign for the future. The Pope’s critics call on him to lead to serious reforms. But journalists do not sit and have to face the lives and experiences of 1.2billion Catholics, largely in Latin America and Africa. From Dublin, Washington, London and Paris the view is very different  to that in Peru, Central Africa, or indeed parts of Argentina, where the real face of Catholicism is to be seen, with its pinched faces, swollen bellies and lack of schools.

This book can outline the problem, but one man alone cannot change the ways of a world which does not want to change, whose great ambition is to “get back to normal”. The origins of the world’s problems, dear reader, as the Pope knows only too well, face each of us every day in the mirror.