The Pope from the End of the Earth
by Thomas J. Craughwell
(St Benedict Press, 2013, hardback, 176pp, $39.90, ISBN: 978-1-61890-136-1)
Pope Francis, the Pope from the End of the Earth is a classic gift book or "coffee table" book printed on high-quality enamel paper and featuring more than sixty colour photographs from across Jorge Bergoglio's whole life.
Often "coffee table" books are massive - and expensive - but this offering is more manageable while maintaining its gift book image.
Craughwell has crafted a beautiful book which combines biographical material, colour pages which follow Jorge Bergoglio's life prior to and after his election as Pope, and the text of his first two homilies as Pope. In addition there are a timeline and a bibliography.
As well as the biographical and historical information, Craughwell includes some supplementary insertions concerning vital Catholic beliefs, practices and traditions. There are, for example, short essays on St Ignatius Loyola (founder of the Jesuits) and St Francis of Assisi whose heroic life inspired Cardinal Bergoglio.
In choosing as his papal name Francis, the Pope-elect accepted and associated himself with that saint's vocation for himself and contemporary Catholics. The Lord directed Francis to "rebuild my Church which has fallen into ruins!" Obviously, Pope Francis views his mandate in similar terms.
The present book answers many questions that Catholics may have: What criteria guided the cardinals as they chose Cardinal Bergoglio? How did he serve the Jesuits and the Church in Argentina in his leadership roles? What is the significance of his particular devotion to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots?
Other questions answered include: How has the Pope already built bridges with other Christian denominations, as well as Jews and Moslems? What two forms of music dominate his record collection? How did the papal electoral process evolve?
The book explores the approach Pope Francis will take towards the current needs of the Church based on his personal development, the deliberations of the College of Cardinals and the need for reform of the Curia and the Vatican Bank.
There are four basic dimensions of Christian life in the Catholic tradition: belief, worship, lifestyle or moral issues, and service. Pope Francis is giving a renewed emphasis to the last, while not ignoring the other key features of Catholicism.