‘Highly awaited’ biography of Pope released

Thursday 17 April 2014

Pope Francis - His Life and ThoughtA ‘highly awaited’ biography of Pope Francis was unveiled by a leading theologian at the University of St Andrews on Wednesday 16 April 2014.

‘Pope Francis: His Life and Thought’, by Professor Mario Aguilar, is considered the official biography of the Argentinean Pope. The important new text will serve as a guide to all future historical and theological works on Pope Francis.

The biography, which is to be launched at a colloquium in St Andrews, is based on the writings of the Argentinean Cardinal Bergoglio (later to become Pope Francis) in the context of his research in Argentina and Chile.

The book is authored by Chilean-born Professor Aguilar, who is Chair of Religion and Politics at St Andrews.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Professor Aguilar said, “This is the first biography to analyse Pope Francis’ life and thought in the light of both Argentinean history and the original Spanish texts of his writings, speeches and homilies.

“It is much-awaited by those who follow his life because it brings new insights and documents that could settle the role of Cardinal Bergoglio during the military period of Argentina and the foundations for the role of Pope Francis today within the international arena.”

The biography ends with Bergoglio’s election as Pope Francis, the first Latin American to become Pope, and a Pope who has attracted the public imagination because of his simplicity and closeness to people, especially those rejected by society.

Professor Aguilar continued, “The election of Pope Francis in March 2013 marked an important moment within the Roman Catholic Church, a moment of continuities and discontinuities. On the one hand, he is the first Latin American and the first Jesuit to be elected to lead his Church; on the other hand he provides continuity through a focus on the needs of the poor that goes back to John XXIII and Vatican II.

“A traditional thinker, theologically speaking, since being elected he has spoken repeatedly of the need for the Church to be poor and to serve the poor.”

Professor Aguilar has written extensively on the Church in Latin America, Africa and Asia, including Cardenal Raúl Silva Henríquez: Presencia en la vida de Chile 1907-1999, A Social History of the Catholic Church in Chile (9 volumes), The History and Politics of Latin American Theology (3 volumes), Theology, Liberation and Genocide and Thomas Merton: Contemplation and Political Action. He is a Camaldolese Benedictine Oblate and has lived in Scotland for over 20 years.

Today’s launch event, which will be introduced by the University’s Principal Professor Louise Richardson, will include talks by Fr. Gero McLoughlin SJ (Jesuit, Promoter of Ignatian Spirituality, Edinburgh), Dr. Dorothea McEwan (Theologian and writer, The Warburg Institute, University of London) and Dr. Michael O’Sullivan SJ (Jesuit, All Hallows College, Dublin).


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