Two books by Pope Francis released
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Francis' first two publications hit Italian bookstores Tuesday and their titles, "Humility: The Path to God" and "Healing from Corruption," hint at the road map for his papacy, experts said.
About 60 pages each, the books are a compilation of his homilies and essays, published in Argentina between the 1980s and '90s, when he was a prominent Jesuit teacher and before he was appointed archbishop of Buenos Aires.
"It's not uncommon to find factions inside religious communities, battling each other to impose the hegemony of their opinions and preferences," wrote Jorge Mario Bergoglio in 1984, as he invited his Jesuit seminarians to reflect on conflict. "Words that come from the mind are like walls, but words that come from the heart are like bridges."
His book on humility, experts say, highlights the teachings of the Jesuits, an order founded in the 16th century by Ignatius of Loyola, who preached simplicity and poverty.
" 'Humility: The Path to God' is very much St. Ignatius-like," said Lucetta Scaraffia, a religion professor at La Sapienza University in Rome, as she presented the book at a news conference Tuesday. "It allows us to better understand the complexity of who this pope is, and who he will become in the future."
Since his election on March 13, Pope Francis has put humility front and center. He has refused the Vatican Mercedes-Benz, and declined to wear silk and furs. Tuesday, he announced that he will continue to live with cardinals and priests at the more modest Santa Marta apartments in Vatican City, instead of the exclusive apostolic palace.
But it may be the other book, "Healing from Corruption," that resonates the most among Catholics in Rome.
"At the root of all corruption there is tiredness of the transcendent," writes the pope in a book in which the last chapter deals with corruption of the religious.
"There is a fear that God might set us on a journey that we can't control," he wrote. "The soul then starts to be content with the products offered by the supermarket of religious consumerism," like moving up the ranks, gaining prestige and acquiring power.
"Healing from Corruption" was first written in 1991 as a general reflection on Argentina, where Pope Francis spent most of his life. In the book, he wrote of an Argentine culture of cutting corners, cheating or even stealing, based on the assumption that somebody else will do it anyway.
"Much like Italy," said the Rev. Luigi Ciotti, founder of Libera, the anti-Mafia Catholic nongovernmental organization, explaining that the pope's description of a corrupted heart seems tailored to the frustrations of Italians who are disappointed by their politicians -- some accused of colluding with the Mafia.