Pope Francis: The Pope from the End of the Earth (Book Review)

As our beloved new Pope was traveling to Brazil for World Youth Day, I thought it would be fitting to learn more about the man whose simple demeanor and actions have so quickly captured the hearts of both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Our good friends over at Saint Benedict Press were kind enough to supply me with a copy of Thomas J. Craughwell’s new book, Pope Francis: The Pope from the End of the Earth. This beautiful new book gives a great introduction to the man Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who has quickly become known around the world as Pope Francis. With many stunning photographs throughout, this book explores the sudden call for Conclave as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI resigned and the Church sought a new shepherd to sit in the throne of St. Peter. With a moving Forward by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, the book welcomes the reader into the world of Conclave, the process of getting the Church ready for a new leader, and the anticipation of what the future may bring.

Personally, I love Conclave. Ever since I first read about the process of electing a new pope, I have been fascinated by the ritual, the grandeur and the unique spirit that the highest calling in our Church calls for. While Craughwell does show examples of how the new pope and his predecessor are different, he does a beautiful job in making you fall in love with each for their own reasons. With wonderful side notes and interesting facts about the pope, Conclave, and more, Craughwell brings the new pope to the reader as if he has known him all along. While Pope Francis surprised much of the media with his humility, straightforwardness, and casual nature, Craughwell shows that by looking at Francis’ past, anyone can see that these simple acts by the new Holy Father are in fact, just his nature. From Francis’ simple dress, to paying his hotel bill in person, to humbly asking for everyone else to pray for him before all else, Pope Francis can be seen as the “Undoer of Knots” that our Church needed in the next Holy Father.

After reading this simple book (and only simple due to the short amount of time that Francis has been in the position of pope), I have come to respect, admire, and love our new Pope. Reading of Francis’ defense of life, love for the poor, personal piety, and love for the Eucharist made this book an absolute page turner that I could not put down. As I wondered what our Church would do in its unique position of having two living popes, an instance that has not occurred in centuries, I grew to see what was so amazing about both men, the faith, and the Church all at the same time. It is best summarized as the book closes:

Despite all the uncertainty and anxiety that followed Benedict XVI’s resignation, and the anticipation of what lies ahead in the reign of Pope Francis, one thing is certain: the Catholic Church, instituted and safeguarded by Christ, will endure. The fact was made clear when Benedict XVI greeted Pope Francis with a spirit of obedience and a reverent, loving embrace. Francis will continue – in his own way and with his own unique talents and gifts – the mission that Benedict took up from John Paul II, and so on back through the years to Peter, and to Christ himself: the mission to bring souls to heaven and to restore all things in Christ. Viva il papa!


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