RELIGION & SPIRITUALITY

The Election of Pope Francis: An Inside Account of the Conclave That Changed History

Orbis. Apr. 2019. 272p. notes. index. ISBN 9781626983199. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781608337811. REL
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Vatican correspondent O’Connell (America magazine; Do Not Stifle the Spirit) presents an account of two revolutionary events: a pope’s resignation and the beginning of a new papal style with the election of Pope Francis, the first Latin American and first Jesuit to hold that office. In addition to meticulous research based on interviews and print and electronic resources, the author has the advantage of a personal friendship with Pope Francis, going back to his days as Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina. Written in diary format, the book covers Benedict’s resignation through Francis’s inauguration, consists of four parts: the days following the resignation, the interregnum, the conclave at which Francis was elected, and the days leading up to his installation. The work cites concerns influencing the election such as need for reform of the Curia, the clergy sex abuse scandal, the humanitarian refugee crisis, and dwindling church membership, and discusses church politics and speculation about likely papal candidates. O’Connell stresses the importance of media coverage and the ways in which new means of communication impacted the proceedings.
VERDICT Highly recommended for readers interested in what goes on behind the scenes in a papal election.

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