Pope Francis: His Life and Thought

By Mario I. Aguilar

A revealing biography of Jorge Bergoglio, exploring the experiences that shaped his theological outlook prior to his election to the papacy in 2013.

ISBN: 9780718893422
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Pope Francis: His Life and Thought paints a compelling picture of a truly remarkable man, considering the evolution of his theological ideas in detail until his election as pope in 2013.

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was a highly unusual candidate for the papacy for two main reasons: the ‘pope from far away’ is the first non-European and the first former Jesuit to have been elected. Bergoglio’s theological principles have been profoundly shaped by these two factors. However, the author also reveals that his thought was deeply affected by his simple Argentinean upbringing and his fearless work in the slums of Buenos Aires as a young Jesuit and later as a senior member of the Church. Bergoglio has consistently emphasised the importance of alleviating the suffering of the poor, following the teaching of Vatican II, and in keeping with his own unflinching morality.

This volume reveals Pope Francis as an exceptionally humble and altruistic man, doctrinally conservative, and engaged less in politics than in the struggle to bring the Church to the margins of society. It will be of great interest to any reader who wishes to know more about this inspiring individual.

Additional information

Dimensions 234 × 156 mm
Pages 190

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Trade Information LGENPOD

About the Author

Mario I. Aguilar is a theologian from Chile, now Professor of Religion and Politics at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. He has written extensively on the Church in Latin America, Africa and Asia, including Cardenal Raúl Silva Henríquez: Presencia en la vida de Chile 1907-1999, A Social History of the Catholic Church in Chile (9 volumes), The History and Politics of Latin American Theology (3 volumes), Theology, Liberation and Genocide and Thomas Merton: Contemplation and Political Action. He is a Camaldolese Benedictine Oblate and has lived in Scotland for the past 20 years.



1. From Son of Immigrants to Jesuit
2. The Military and the ‘Dirty War’
3. From Auxiliary Bishop to Cardinal
4. From Archbishop to Cardinal
5. The Nation, the Poor and Others
6. Meditations on Poverty and Other Faiths
7. Conclusions

Post Script


Endorsements and Reviews

This reflection draws upon Aguilar’s own experiences as a Latin American theologian and it engages directly with many of the Spanish sources that shed light upon the life and thought of Jorge Bergoglio. [He] cuts a swath through fact and myth as he charts the new pope’s formative experiences in detail. … Food for thought for anyone seeking to understand what has made him the pontiff he is.
Gerard Mannion, Amaturo Professor in Catholic Studies, Georgetown University

Pope Francis has already provided a breath of fresh air, and this welcome and timely book explains why. Anyone who thought God had no surprises up his sleeve will discover here how this new leader has been formed to be a challenging and transforming presence both in his own Church and further afield.
Rt Revd Prof. N. T. Wright, former Bishop of Durham, Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity, University of St Andrews

A sound book which helps to put Francis’ present papal practice in clear preceding context …
David Carter, Churches Together in England, Summer 2014

Aguilar does a great service in articulating the hermeneutic of continuity between [Pope Francis’s] pastoral ministry at home and his papal mission.
Kevin O’Gorman, in The Furrow, Vol LXVI, No 3

Aguilar shows us not an extraordinary and audacious pope, but a singular priest who encountered many obstacles in his long career until he achieved the rank of cardinal during the last years of John Paul II’s pontificate … Aguilar accurately details this ambiguous picture.
Miranda Lida, in Catholic Historical Review, Vol 101, Issue 2

Aguilar has labored successfully to offer readers a resource through which to gain deeper insights into the unique style of Francis’s pontificate. … Aguilar’s work was built on primary and secondary Spanish sources. More importantly, these sources were studied and analyzed by a theologian who shares the Pope’s Latin American background and whose academic career and profession are devoted to the history of the very faith community that challenged and moulded Bergoglio’s theological thought. The author’s unique perspective makes this work a rich and exciting read. … Aguilar’s exceptional care in studying Bergoglio’s writings and homilies is impressive and commendable.
Hung T. Pham SJ, in Theological Studies, Vol 76(4)

In this well-written, well-documented, and quite revealing book, biographer Mario Aguilar provides an analysis of Jorge Bergoglio … before becoming pope in 2013. … The author masterfully weaves together [his childhood and professional] influences so that the reader comes to understand Pope Francis in light of this theological and historical framework. … Pope Francis: His Life and Thought is highly recommended.
Clifford Chalmers Cain, in Reviews in Religion and Theology, Vol 25, Issue 1