Friday, January 10, 2014

A Big Heart Open to God (HarperOne)

It's been several months since a controversial 12,000 word interview with Pope Francis was published by America Magazine. The media had a field day with it. As opposed to reading the whole interview, journalists extracted bits and pieces and interpreted them to suit their own agenda. Harper Collins has recently published the interview in book format, under the title of A Big Heart Open to God to read at your leisure.

A Big Heart Open to God  is an interview with Pope Francis by Father Antonio Spadaro. This interview was conducted in person over the span of three meetings during August 2013. Like all good interviewers, Fr. Spadaro had a list of questions to ask his interviewee. However, he instead chose to go off-list and asked, "Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?" opening up a level of humility in Pope Francis that we don't often see in global leaders. It takes the Pope some time to answer, but he replies, "I am a sinner," and "I am one who is looked upon by the Lord." We don't often think of the Pope as a sinner, but he is human too. And if the pope can acknowledge his sinfulness, we should be more keenly aware of our sinfulness.

Other topics addressed in this interview include the Jesuits, the role of the Church, Vatican II, and women's place in the Church. When this interview hit the papers, many media hubs extracted isolated comments about the woman's role, and  there was much speculation that Pope Francis favored the ordination of women, but let me assure, he did not say that at all! He did say that women are vitally important to the Church, and we must do a better job defining their role and allowing them to work within their roles. After the interview, this book includes reactions and responses to the Pope's words from people like Cardinal Dolan, Richard Rohr, and Karen Sue Smith. Unfortunately, most of these were not interesting to me, as they seemed lackluster in comparison to the interview that preceded them.

What I did appreciate was the spiritual reflections presented by Fr. Martin at the very end of the book. The reflection questions were both practical and fruitful, and it helped take the interview to a deeper level for me. Overall, I'd give this book 4 out of 5 stars. If you missed out on this interview when it was first published, or if the idea of staring at a computer screen that long to read it was unappealing to you, then I'd recommend this book for you.

This book was provided to me for free by Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. If you found this review helpful, please click the link and hit Yes!