Please Pray For Me

When I saw the book Francis Man of Prayer written by Mario Escobar pop up on the Booksneeze reviewer program, I was immediately thrilled to learn more about our new pope.  We all know that the surprise resignation of Pope Benedict XVI made news around the world and I believe we were all watching to see who would succeed him. Our first glimpse of our newly elected Pope Francis was a revelation as well.  He appeared shy as he made his simple request of all who were watching “Please pray for me.”  I had read about his humility and desire to serve the poor but now I felt by reading this book, I would learn more about the man himself.

While reading this book, I had mixed emotions but, overall, I was a bit disappointed.  On the positive side, he did include a good biography of Jorge Mario Bergoglio and selected ten quotes by Pope Francis that reveal his beliefs.  He also listed an extensive bibliography of where he found his information. He did educate me on the fact that very few popes have come from religious orders.  I didn’t know that and he also included a list of the ones who came from the Benedictine, Augustinian, Dominican, Franciscan, Cistercian and Jesuit Orders.  Of course, it was well known that Pope Francis is the only pope from the Jesuit Order of Priests.  I also appreciated his chapter on the evolution of the papal election and background information on previous conclaves.

But I couldn’t help wondering how skewed it might be since Pope Francis was elected on March 13, 2013 and this book was published on May 14, 2013.  Gathering information to compile a book that needed time to be edited and published meant Mr. Escobar wrote this biography, in a very short time period.  I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a competition from the publishers on who would release the first book on Pope Francis?

What soured this book for me a bit, was Mr. Escobar’s comments on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.  One can infer from his comments that he was not a fan of our previous pope.  He even went as far to say that “in many ways Benedict XVI was a roadblock for the Catholic Church trying to find its way toward modernity.”

What disappointed me is that I feel it was a book on facts rather than the man himself. The ten quotes he chose to include in his book are ones I’ve heard fluttering around the various media outlets and I do find hope and inspiration from them.  But it wasn’t anything new and revealing.  Of course, he didn’t have time to wait for an original quote but had to use what was already out there.  He obviously never met Pope Francis and interviewed him for his book.  That would have brought a warmth and interesting spin to it.   Perhaps I had unrealistic expectations of this book when only a few short months ago, no one here in US even knew who he was.  Would I recommend this book?  Not as a must read or as a type of book one can’t put down, but I would for someone who wants to learn more about the papal office and it’s history.

I was given a complimentary copy of Francis Man of Prayer from Booksneeze in exchange for my honest opinion.


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