3 out of 4 stars
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Pope Francis is committed to building bridges in a globalized but highly divided world. His words and actions demonstrate his commitment and love for the whole of humanity and the Earth. He has convincingly demonstrated unmatched and remarkable willingness to reach out to people of other faiths and the youth as well. This is evidenced by his visits to countries that would be described as majorly Islamic and holding talks with leaders of other faiths too. The various meetings he has held with the youths from various countries he has toured also reveal one who is prepared to assist the youths who feel isolated. Moreover, his dedication to the conservation of nature and the prevention of climate change is equally outstanding. One of his papers, ‘Laudato Si’, stresses on the need to reduce global emissions of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases and pollutants. His efforts have made him attract many passionate admirers as well as fierce critics.
Why has Pope Francis attracted both admirers and critics? How has the pope engaged the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America? What past practices and lessons are informing the actions of the pope? What are the roles of the Basic Christian Communities and Small Christian Communities in the current dispensation? What are the transformative roles of organized religion across the planet? These and many more questions are answered in this fascinating book.
Pope Francis, Conscience of the World: Building Needed Bridges in a Troubled World was co-authored by John Raymaker and Gerald Grudzen. The book was published by Hamilton Publishers. It is 153 pages long and contains nine chapters. The book describes the accomplishments of Pope Francis in leading interfaith dialogues and also in the fight against global climate change. It also introduces readers to other past and present contributors to the promotion of human welfare.
There are many things that I liked about the book. First, it addressed specific issues as they are. For example, the tendency for many to be absorbed in their own local situations and neglecting a more comprehensive global perspective was adequately described. The direct consequences of this narrow perspective were also given, especially in light of the refugee crisis and global warming. The book was also a result of research done carefully and sufficiently, and the authors included their references. I genuinely enjoy reading history, and thus I was thrilled to read about prominent historical figures and events. There were many enlightening and striking statements as well. One of them was the fact that interfaith understanding and harmony are essential for the future of humanity and nature.
There are things that I disliked in the book, though. To start with, the defense of the pope against his critics was given considerable attention. This, in turn, reduced the key focus on his outstanding achievements. There were also minor sections where the narration focused on the authors. For example, the authors stated in one paragraph that they are seeking to build ‘glocal’ bridges with Pope Francis. Such statements were scattered throughout the book. However, these issues did not detract from the general enjoyment of the book.
The language adopted in the book was straightforward. Editing was fairly done since I discovered a few grammatical errors. I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars owing to the reasons stated above. I recommend it to all readers who want to learn more about Pope Francis’ achievements in addressing critical issues confronting the world. The book will also appeal to readers interested in interfaith dialogues and the roles of the Church in areas like good governance and environmental conservation.
Pope Francis, Conscience of the World
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