From his first appearance on the Vatican balcony, Pope Francis proved himself a pope of surprises. With a series of potent gestures, he declared a mission to restore authenticity and integrity to a Catholic Church bedeviled by sex abuse and secrecy, intrigue and infighting, ambition and arrogance. He declared it should be "a poor Church, for the poor."
Paul Vallely reexamines the complex past of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, recording many untold stories that explain his paradoxical presence. Francis has consistently shown a willingness to discuss issues previously considered taboo, his liberal instincts outraging traditionalists in the Vatican and especially in the Church hierarchy in the United States. At the same time, many of his statements have reassured conservative elements. "Pope Francis," writes Vallely, "has not just demonstrated a different way of being a pope. He has shown the world a different way of being a Catholic."