Read of the Week

Pope Francis, The Path to Change

Dominique Wolton

Pan MacMillan

Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

Pope Francis has captured a lot of interest since he was elected as the leader of the Catholic Church.

I am also very interested in the break-the-mould pontiff but, despite this, I was not able to get through this book easily. This had more to do with my slow digestion for philosophy, however, than the book itself.

The book transcribes a series of conversations between the Pope and Dominique Wolton, a French lawyer and communications expert, who has a string of accomplishments under his belt, including the writing of dozens of books over the past 40 years.

The conversations were structured around questions posed by Wolton and were related to themes such as communication, politics, etc. These were interspersed by excerpts of the Pope’s public addresses, which touch on the same themes.

While Wolton is an acclaimed expert in his fields, I found the questions he asked to be dry and somewhat repetitive.

As a Frenchman, his questions were very Eurocentric and I felt he could have diversified more.

The Pope’s answers, however, were always engaging and thought-provoking, and gave interesting insights to his personality and history. I often found myself staring into space contemplating some of the statements in the book, while it lay somewhat forgotten in my lap.

Despite the high-brow level of the conversations, there were a few light and funny moments, such as when the Pope recounts Argentine jokes about the nation’s alleged arrogance (the Pope is Argentinian and is the first elected non-European pontiff in the history of the church) or when he also explains his unorthodox use of social media (he has the most Twitter followers in the world).

It was the lighter moments that kept me engaged but these were too few for my liking and as a result, I took a long time to read the book – too long in my husband’s opinion.

Unbeknown to me, he had been impatiently watching my progress and by the time I was three-quarters of the way through, he decided he could wait no longer and started reading the book himself.

Immediately, he was thoroughly engaged – highlighting portions, making notes and cross-referencing with other books.

In a few days he’d read most of it (except Wolton’s questions which he had skipped entirely).

The key difference affecting our progress was his keen interest in philosophy compared to my only marginal one.