Friday, 17 August 2018

The Path To Change by Pope Francis with Dominique Wolton


The Path To Change by Pope Francis with Dominique Wolton
First published by Bluebird on the 9th August 2018.

One of my August Authorfest reads

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Pope Francis has thoroughly re-engaged the Catholic Church with the modern world, by tackling the difficult and urgent questions that we face as a civilization, in order to illuminate the path to change. French sociologist Dominique Wolton interviewed Pope Francis regularly over the course of a year, and their open, warm dialogue builds a detailed picture of how Pope Francis became the most popular leader the Catholic Church has ever seen.

The Pope’s clarity, humility and humanity are brought to the fore by Dominique Wolton’s engaging and relevant questions. As well as revealing fascinating insights into his early life, in The Path to Change Pope Francis freely addresses the major issues of our time: peace and war, politics and religion, globalization and cultural diversity, fundamentalism and secularism, Europe and migrants, ecology, family, time, trust and joy.

I nearly rejected The Path To Change out of hand when I was invited to review it as I didn't think it would be relevant to me or that I would understand enough of the conversation to make the reading worthwhile. I'm British and, as a nation, we haven't been especially welcoming to Catholics since Tudor times plus, personally, I am an atheist with a limited school knowledge of only the most popular Bible stories. Having recently enjoyed reading philosophy with the Alain de Botton books though and being encouraged by the publisher's actively seeking non-religious readers' opinions, I took the plunge!

I have thoughts both on The Path To Change as a book and on Pope Francis' words so I will write separately about each aspect. The book itself is quite a dense read. Its chapters each focus on one of twelve conversations between Pope Francis and French sociologist Dominique Wolton and I think their words are pretty much transcribed verbatim (in translation of course!). I found Wolton's introduction too pompous for my tastes, but he is obviously very much in awe of Pope Francis and comes across at times as being endearingly eager to impress him. This is a book, I think, to read slowly and muse over. I certainly found that I couldn't digest more than a chapter at a time, which is very unusual for me, and then felt the need to go walking or sit quietly alone. I wonder if reading The Path To Change as a buddy read would have been useful in order to discuss the ideas while they were still fresh in my mind?

Regarding Pope Francis' words, I was quite expecting to disagree on far more points than I actually found that I did. He comes across as surprisingly worldly for such a cloistered man, is obviously very well read within his field and beyond, and also has a talent for genuine communication. I understand that I will never agree with his restrictive views on homosexuality or the rights of women and actually got annoyed when his assertion in one chapter that women should lead the way in the Europe-wide fight against terrorism was then bluntly snubbed in a later chapter by there being absolutely no chance that women would ever lead the way within the Catholic Church! However I can get behind his ideas on greater and more effective communication between faiths, and certainly support his repeated denunciations of arms dealing and the putting of money above people. If only there wasn't such ostentatious gold displays in churches! On the whole though, I found I actually had a lot of time for Pope Francis - which was good as this book did take ages to read! - and think his tenure as Pope will be beneficial for the world.


Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Pope Francis and Dominique Wolton / Philosophy books / Books from Argentina and France

10 comments:

  1. wow yes I can imagine this was a very dense read! I think pretty much everyone on earth have thoughts on Pope Francis! I usually don't read nonfiction about religious topics because like with this book I often find them too pompous for my taste

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    1. The interviewer did irritate me a bit! But I was surprised by how much I liked Pope Francis. Obviously he knew his words would be published and I don't agree with some of his stances, but he does come across as a totally genuine person

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  2. That sounds like an interesting read.

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    1. Not my usual sort of book, but I'm glad to have read it :-)

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  3. Sounds Interesting but I would have rejected this outright because of the churches views. I'm glad you found this enjoyable despite having opposite views.
    Tori @ In Tori Lex

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    1. I'd scrolled past it on NetGalley before the publisher invited me to read it. I wasn't sure because I know I disagree with the traditional church on several things, but I do think it's important for me not to seal myself off from opposing opinions. I like to have my own ideas challenged so I understand why I think in certain ways. Sometimes my thoughts can even be changed by a book, sometimes not!

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  4. My first reaction when I saw that you were reviewing it was that it would not be for me. That is probably true but I am glad that you were able to read and appreciate it. I would imagine that it would be a very thoughtful read. Great review!

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    1. I didn't think I would be able to get so much from this as I did!

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