When I learned we had a Pope Francis my first thought was, “We have a Pope FRANKIE???” (And I mean no disrespect, truly I only have love here.) He caught my eye. Now I was curious who this man was. What was the hub-bub about? He was the fifth Pope I was alive for but only the second I was “aware of” (I knew of Pope John Paul II, as I remember the assassination attempt, but I was still a kid and not into politics).
Later, I saw a graphic novel by Ted Rall. I have had this copy of Francis The People’s Pope for a while now. I kept thinking, “Do I really want to read a book about The Pope? Even though I am curious about who he is?” I mean, it is either going to be how fabulous he was or how horrible he and the church is. Been there; read that. Yet, I remembered his book on Bernie Sanders. I say you probably must like a person to write a biography of them, but the book on Sanders was well done. I feel a good biography should have pros and cons of the person you are writing about. Sanders had that (maybe a bit more pro, to be honest, but again, we tend not to be mean to people we like). I figured I would give Pope Francis a try.
And what I found is that Ted Rall has a style to his writing. He has an opinion and sticks by it, yet, he also is willing to show the black, white and grays of his subject. I actually am now curious about Snowden and, yes, even his one on Trump (though I am not sure how that fits in with my theory of liking a subject you write about…)
Even if you are not Catholic, this is a lovely biography of an interesting, controversial, contradictions-filled Pope It is also the history of the religious, political and social environments that made it possible for him to become Pope Francis I. Pope Francis is a man who became a priest in a time when not only the Catholic Church was in upheaval, but when Argentina was in the middle of extreme political unrest. As a child he was influenced by the world, his countries events and his church. This book is a fairly straightforward look into what he did (and did not do) right and wrong. Plus, how this shaped not only him, but the Church. It is all handled respectfully and honestly. The book mixes Rall’s illustrations and photographs and has informational charts and newspaper clipping headlines.
Ideas or historical elements I was not understanding were made more accessible and understandable. And I learned how even why some of the unimportant things are important: he is the first Jesuit priest and the first man to take a name of a Pope that has not been used before. And even if the only thing I came away with is that one of the odd jobs he did to support himself was that he was a bouncer, it was worth the price of admission.