PRAY FOR ME
The Life and Spiritual Vision of Pope Francis
By Robert Moynihan
(Random House, 2013, 238pp, $24.95, ISBN: 978-1-84604-405-2)
Pope Francis' unusual background (for a Pope) and distinctive style have proved endlessly fascinating to many people around the world.
The American author of this analysis, Robert Moynihan, is an experienced journalist and prolific writer, and the founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, who is familiar with the Roman scene and a seasoned Vatican analyst.
Dr Moynihan had a classic Ivy League education, earned his BA in English, magna cum laude from Harvard and an MA and PhD in Medieval Studies from Yale.
In Pray for Me: The Life and Spiritual Vision of Pope Francis, Moynihan provides an insider's look at the exciting events after Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio emerged onto the balcony overlooking St Peter's Square as Pope Francis.
The book is divided into three parts and includes a simple biography and a further section highlighting various topics with Pope Francis' views on each.
In some ways, the most interesting part of Pray For Me deals with the immediate before and after of Pope Francis' election on 13 March 2013.
The events explored within this section include Pope Francis' appearance on the balcony of St Peter's, his first Mass and homily, initial meetings with cardinals and journalists, the receiving of foreign leaders and the Palm Sunday Mass.
The second section of the book offers the reader an informative forty-page biography of Pope Francis. This covers his childhood years, his ordination to the priesthood, appointment as bishop, elevation to the College of Cardinals and election to the papacy.
Moynihan identifies the five "spiritual guides" who especially influenced Pope Francis during his formative years: the Prophet Jonah, Mary, St Ignatius of Loyola, Don Luigi Giussani and St Francis of Assisi. The evidence is derived from Jorge Bergoglio's various writings and conversations through the years.
The third section mentions briefly some forty topics and the views of Pope Francis on each. The various topics covered include creation, humanity, the Church, faith, hope, love, and eternal life.
Dr Moynihan has mentioned in an interview how he came to write Pray for Me.
"I was in Rome", he writes, "to follow each day during the period from the announcement by Pope Benedict XVI of his resignation on 11 February to the election of Pope Francis on 13 March and through the first weeks of the new pontificate. I saw him personally on a number of occasions, and read everything he was saying and much of what the world press was saying about him."
This well informed, insightful book is a worthy addition to the already numerous writings on Pope Francis.