Inspiring thoughts from Pope Francis

Pope Francis: Thoughts and Words for the Soul by Jorge Mario Bergoglio
ed. by Giuseppe Costa
(White Star Publishers, €12.28/£11.50)

In the divisive aftermath of the controversial synod, this celebratory book makes a stark contrast. Controversy these days all too often seems a matter of the moment, often generated by the comments of over-involved journalists. However, the editor of this volume, a long-serving Vatican journalist associated with L’Osservatore Romano, has another motive in mind.

He is attempting to present Pope Francis more under the aspect of eternity, so to speak: to address the essential nature of the man himself and the actual significance of what he sees his mission to be. The presentation however is a popular one. The Pope’s insights are illustrated by selected obiter dicta. Although they are unreferenced, they have been culled from his speeches, comments and writings. The whole is enhanced with an album of very attractive, and in many cases very moving, even deeply symbolic photographs.

This is a beautifully produced book, well designed and well printed. It will sell well, I suspect, as a papal keepsake. But its deeper purpose must also be acknowledged. Through the form of a popular presentation the editor is serving the Pope by providing a compendium of universal truth, derived ultimately from both the Gospels but also from the life of Pope Francis. The selections will provide many readers with ‘a thought for the day’, which will certainly deepen their appreciation of the Pope’s outlook.


The introduction tends to be workman-like, giving the essential facts, which is a great benefit. At one point, the editor remarks that the Bergoglio family fled Italy for Argentina to escape Fascism. This is true, but that country had been a popular destination for impoverished Italians since the turn of the century.

I noted here, though, that the editor passes in silence over the Peron years – on first reading, one sees this as a failing, but a little later he picks up this theme, adding that Pope Francis, in the context of liberation theology, was influenced by Peronista ideas, rather than Marxist ones. 

The revolutionary working class in Argentina took its own special form, so it would be right to seek the roots of the Pope’s thought in his own early years

This is certainly an interesting point, which I have not seen remarked on elsewhere (but then one cannot possibly read everything written these days about Pope Francis). Still, like much else in the book, it will provide readers with much food for thought.