BOOK REVIEW: “Francis: The People’s Pope”

By Thomas M. Loarie

I received Francis: The People’s Pope, penned by Vincenzo Sansonetti,  as a Christmas gift from my “little” sister, Mary Lu.  My sister is very special, as she has had to put up with FIVE brothers throughout her life! Oh, the stories she could tell… yes, she is destined to become a saint.

A little personal perspective

Mary Lu and I are extremely close since we are only 18 months apart. I was the big brother “protector” who kept a Catholic Investment Strategies - eye on her throughout grade school and high school. As a reward, she introduced me to all of her girlfriends. Not a bad arrangement!

We go back-and-forth on all things Catholic. It was she who urged me to go to Medjugorje in the early 1990s, during a particularly challenging time in my life. It was a trip that radically changed my life for the better.

The gift of Francis this past Christmas is another one of those gifts from my sister.

Who is Pope Francis, really?

I have followed Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff comments to the press, the consequent misrepresentations of what he said, and, in a few cases, his walking back on several misunderstood comments (such as those recently made in the Philippines regarding large Catholic families). The book, Francis, cuts to the chase and allows us to fully grasp this man, whom many refer to as “the people’s pope.”

We are all familiar with the Pope’s warm smile, his purposeful simplicity, and his capacity to make all feel welcome. In Francis, author Vincenzo Sansonetti provides us with much more, his wisdom. No less than 108 quotes, offering courageous words and precious teachings taken from the Pope’s homilies, speeches, and greetings is what this book is all about. He reminds us “who we are, what our destiny is, what it means to be with Jesus, and how to live our earthly days to the fullest as we wait eternal glory.”

An Inspiring Read

Here are some excerpts, to whet your appetite for this inspiring book:

Calling – “…the experience of faith is important. We must seek God – go to him and ask forgiveness – but when we go, he is waiting for us; he is there first!”

Strength “…let the Lord look at you; when he looks at us, he gives us strength and helps us to bear witness to him.”

Listening – “Mary knew how to listen to God. Be careful: it was not merely “hearing,” a superficial word, but “listening,” which consists of attention, acceptance, and availability to God.”

Crisis “Right now the whole world is in crisis. And crisis is not a bad thing. It is true that crisis causes suffering, but  ICLE-Catholic Education resourceswe …must know how to interpret the crisis. What does this crisis mean? What must I do to help us to come through this crisis? The crisis we are experiencing at this time is a human crisis. People say it is an economic crisis, it is a crisis of work. Yes, that’s true. But why? This work problem, this problem in the economy, is the consequence of a great human problem. What is in crisis is the value of the human person, and we must defend the human person.”

Economy “The goal of economics and politics is to serve humanity, beginning with the poorest and most vulnerable, wherever they may be, even in their mother’s womb. Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God, and developing one’s own human potential. This is the main thing; in the absence of such a vision, all economic activity is meaningless.”

Saints – “To become saints only one thing is necessary: to accept the grace that the father gives us in Jesus Christ. There, this grace, changes our heart.”

Sadness – “There are people who live without hope. Each one of us can think in silence of people who live with no hope and are steeped in profound sadness from which they struggle to emerge, believing they have found happiness in alcohol, and drugs, in gambling, and the power of money, and sexuality unbridled by rules… However, they find themselves even more disappointed and sometimes vent the rage against life with violent behavior unworthy of the human being. How many sad people, how many sad people…”

Values “Values that can help build a nation and a world that are more just, United, and fraternal. For this reason I would like to speak of three simple attitudes: hopefulness, openness to being surprised by God, and living in joy.”

To embrace – We all need to look upon one another with the loving eyes of Christ, and to learn to embrace those in need, in order to show our closeness, affection, and love.”ICLE-Catholic Education resources

All of the quotes presented are in chronological order and include beautiful and meaningful images from the early days of Pope Francis’ pontificate.

Who is author Vincenzo Sonsonetti?

Author Vincenzo Sansonetti has written for leading Italian publications, including Avenire, Oggi, and Il Timone. He has also written a series of books on Pope John Paul II, including Following St. Francis, and Why he is a Saint.

The book provides profound and useful reflections united with wise and solid doctrine that can be read over and over again.

Pope Francis throughout, reminds us that the true revolution is the revolution that radically transforms life, one that was brought about by Jesus Christ through his resurrection.

Thank-you, sis!




Thomas M. Loarie is a seasoned and pioneering CEO in the medical device field and a senior columnist and editorial advisor for Catholic Business Journal….