I’m reading it now and finding it most informative and interesting. It puts Pope Francis in context, giving some great background on Argentine history and politics. Ivereigh is a good writer and this is not a hagiography even though he has a favorable opinion about the Holy Father. There is much to admire in Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s life and example and it helps make some of his exhortations more understandable and spiritually challenging in a good way.
I have also been following the controversy this book as engendered.
British writer and veteran Catholic professional Austen Ivereigh has a terrific new book out called The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope. Among other things, he’s masterful in explaining how navigating the ideologically charged period of Argentina’s “Dirty War” prepared the pontiff to try to hold a divided Church together.
Predictably, that’s not the part making headlines.
Instead, it’s Ivereigh’s claim that several moderate-to-liberal European cardinals constituted “Team Bergoglio” (referring to the pope’s given name) in the March 2013 papal election, pushing his candidacy forward. Some readers also took Ivereigh to mean they solicited Bergoglio’s prior agreement to serve.
The site that has been spearheading the questioning of the conclave is From Rome, if you want to look at the arguments on why the blogger thinks the canvassing for Pope Francis violated canon law.
I am not suggesting that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor was in breach of that constitution. But Ivereigh’s account cries out for misinterpretation, shall we say.
Also, his claim that Murphy-O’Connor ‘teamed up’ with Cardinal Kasper to secure Francis’s election will be seized on by conservative Catholics who are still wondering why so divisive a figure as Kasper was allowed to set the agenda for the Synod on the Family last month.