To understand Pope Francis you need to know about Saint Francis of Assisi

    Catholic writer and commentator Austen Ivereigh (Photo by Linda Ivereigh)

    Catholic writer and commentator Austen Ivereigh (Photo by Linda Ivereigh)

    Pope Francis has made news repeatedly for his outgoing and friendly nature. His statements suggest he has more liberal attitudes than his predecessors, and could be a different kind of pope presiding over a different kind of Catholic church.

    Ahead of the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia, we turn to Catholic writer and commentator Austen Ivereigh, author of a biography of Pope Francis, The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope.

    He spoke recently in Philadelphia at the Religion Newswriters Association conference, on a panel entitled “Pope Francis: Myths and Realities.”

    “He’s a radical in the sense that he belongs to a tradition of Catholic reform that goes all the way back to his hero, Saint Francis of Assisi,” explains Ivereigh. “It’s all about focusing the church on its essential mission, which is to offer the saving love of Jesus Christ to the world, but importantly, without the distractions of wealth, power or status. And he’s unafraid to challenge interests which oppose that.”

    Ivereigh discussed Francis’s pontifical style and his background as head of the Jesuits in his native Argentina with WHYY’s Brad Linder.

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