Ivereigh, British journalist and papal biographer, pulls back the curtain on the first six years of the papacy of Pope Francis in this definitive study. Unlike The Great Reformer, Ivereigh’s biography of the pope, this effort focuses on “the conversion of a Church that is struggling to put Christ at its center” and begins with a private conversation between Ivereigh and Pope Francis. “He was warning me against the ‘great man’ myth.... I realize now that The Great Reformer contributed to that myth.” Shirking chronology, Ivereigh catalogues many of Pope Francis’s actions, among them maneuvering to prevent the Vatican from entering bankruptcy, his acceptance of responsibility for decades of sexual abuse and the resulting cover-up, and his encyclical for confronting climate change. For each reform, Pope Francis has seen a common adversary in far-right, anti-Vatican II reactionaries, such as the traditionalist Order of Malta and American cardinal Raymond Burke, who has formed a coalition to resist many of the pope’s reform efforts. Using unprecedented access, Ivereigh provides detailed, frank analysis informed by his own deep Catholic faith and also warns against threats such as a rise in populist nationalist movements. Ivereigh’s insider account will be a revelation to readers interested in the inner workings of the Vatican. (Nov.)
A praiseful portrait of Pope Francis.
British journalist Ivereigh (Fellow, Contemporary Church History/Campion Hall, Univ. of Oxford; The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope, 2014) presents a hagiographic biography of the Francis papacy to date. In a detailed study packed with insider tidbits, the author examines various overarching issues that have affected and defined the Francis era. In addition to the inescapable issue of priestly abuse, Ivereigh also discusses such topics as Vatican finances, rehabilitation of divorced Catholics, human rights crises, and gender and sexuality controversies. An overarching theme is the problem of clericalism, which the author defines as "the perverse idea that clerics of any sort—bishops, priests, consecrated persons—are superior to non-clerics, who are treated as inferiors." Clericalism, writes Ivereigh, has pervaded Catholicism for years and tainted it in countless ways, leading to many of the problems the church faces today. Whereas clericalism leads to a distance from those the church is meant to love, Francis is consistent in promoting "closeness" in every possible way. Ivereigh presents Francis as a nearly flawless figure, "an old Jesuit spiritual master" with "native cunning" who "truly imitates Christ." The closest the author comes to criticizing Francis is in the chapter on the abuse crisis, in which he admits that Francis made certain missteps in his handling of specific cases. Francis' critics, on the other hand, are "Pharisaical" examples of "naked legalism." He even goes so far as to call them "neo-Donatists," referring to an ancient heresy marked by a lack of mercy. Francis, "the master bridgemaker in an era of angry wall builders," is presented as standing nearly alone against a moribund church and a misguided world. Ivereigh's connections with church insiders—connections he does not hesitate to highlight—make for an interesting read. His lack of objectivity, however, detracts from an otherwise intriguing study.
A good read for Francis devotees but far from unbiased journalism.
Essential reading for historians of this papacy in years to come.” The Tablet
"A thoughtful, essential book.” Booklist, *starred review*
"Highly recommended for readers seeking to understand the complexities of a papacy very different from those of the recent past." Library Journal, *starred review*
“Fascinating insights…a richly detailed and engaging portrait of Francis as pope.” Commonweal
"Ivereigh’s insider account will be a revelation to readers interested in the inner workings of the Vatican." Publishers Weekly
“In a detailed study packed with insider tidbits, the author examines various overarching issues that have affected and defined the Francis era.” Kirkus Reviews
“[Ivereigh’s] book provides a much needed, lucidly written, look at the past seven years…Once you start, you do not want to put this book down.” National Catholic Reporter
"Austen Ivereigh has established himself as the most astute historian of the pontificate of Pope Francis, through his meticulous research, dogged interviewing and vast knowledge of the church. His new book is a peerless look at the sometimes overwhelming challenges facing this groundbreaking pope, whose task is at once simple and complex: to help the church proclaim the Gospel in the modern world. Learned, subtle, and deep, his book is indispensable for understanding this man and this church." James Martin, SJ, author of Jesus: A Pilgrimage and The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything
"No one has understood the Francis papacy these past six years better than Austen Ivereigh. Masterfully told, with exquisite detail, probing insight, and good humor, his Wounded Shepherd is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the Church of todayand tomorrow." Christopher White, National Correspondent, Crux
“Ivereigh’s first book on Pope Francis, The Great Reformer, was terrific; Wounded Shepherd is even better. Meticulously researched, beautifully written, insightful, and uplifting, this is the book that goes to the heartin every senseof the Francis pontificate: his accomplishments, his failures, and why he acts the way he does.” Mark Shriver, author of Pilgrimage: My search for the real Pope Francis
“The most insightful and nuanced assessment of this extraordinarily consequential pope. Ivereigh shows why Francis has become for so many the emblem of renewed faith and hope for a badly troubled world.” Robert Ellsberg; Publisher, Orbis Books
“Timely, well-researched, with significant new background information and insights, Wounded Shepherd dispels the myths spread by those who oppose Francis’s prophetic ministry, allowing the reader to grasp the significance of his far-reaching reforms. Essential reading.” Gerard O’Connell, author of The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Story of the Conclave that Changed History
British journalist Ivereigh (The Great Reformer) here describes a church struggling to put Christ at its center. The book focuses on efforts by Pope Francis and the church on "conversion" and the turbulence that followed, with progressives feeling that he isn't going far enough and traditionalists opposing changes in the status quo. Ivereigh compares the pope to St. Francis of Assisi, highlighting their common goals of repairing the church and combating spiritual worldliness. Themes running through the book include clericalism's perversion of power, at the root of many of the church's problems; preference for synodal rather than hierarchical governance; greater inclusion of the laity, including women, in key church roles; the importance of focusing on the marginal rather than the center of the institution; and the far-reaching implications of the clergy sex abuse crisis. Ivereigh notes the strong influence on Francis of the 2007 Latin American Aparecida conference, especially on major papal documents on the family, the environment, and evangelization. Though clearly sympathetic to Francis, the author's assertions are well documented. VERDICT Highly recommended for readers seeking to understand the complexities of a papacy very different from those of the recent past.—Denise J. Stankovics, Vernon, CT