A wave of “instant books” about Pope Francis rushed into print after his surprise election last March left readers waiting for one that brought more insight into the two seemingly contradictory phases in his past.
In “Pope Francis: Untying the Knots,” British journalist Paul Vallely fills that gap by showing how the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio went from being the divisive head of the Jesuit order in Argentina in the 1970s to the humble and inclusive pastor he became once made a bishop in 1992.
Since so little was written in English about Bergoglio, the first quick biographies depended heavily on two books in Spanish, one a long interview with him and the other his dialogue with the chief rabbi of Buenos Aires.
Vallely told Reuters how he put together these contrasting episodes to give a fuller biography of the Roman Catholic Church’s new leader.
Q: How did the book project start?
A: I wrote a piece in The Independent (British newspaper) which explained to non specialists the symbolism of everything he did when he came out on the balcony after his election. The publishers read it and contacted me and said would you like to write a book? I said if this is going to be respectable, I need to go to Rome and to Argentina and you need to fund the travel. They agreed to that.