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A Future of Faith: The Path of Change in Politics and Society by Pope FrancisDominique WoltonJorge Mario Bergoglio, St. Martin’s Essentials, US $29.99, Pp 310, August 2018, ISBN 978-1250200563

Research Director at the CNRS (Centre national de la recherche scientifique/National Center for Scientific Research) Dominique Wolton met Pope Francis more than twelve times between February 2016 and 2017, a considerable time by Vatican standards, and discussed a range of topics. In these frank conversations, Pope Francis gave his candid opinion on subjects ranging from war and peace to politics and religions to globalization and cultural diversity to fundamentalism to secularism, Europe, and migration to ecology to same-sex marriage to many others. In A Future of Faith, Dominique Wolton reproduces these conversations in a systematic way. Dominique Wolton says that nothing had been decided beforehand. In many cases, the discussions went beyond the strict framework of the book, and not everything appears directly in the text. The Pope has read and approved the script. Dominique Wolton complemented the conversations with extracts from sixteen big speeches delivered by the Pope Francis since his election on March 13, 2013.

On the most important current global question of refugees and migrants from the Middle East to Europe, Pope Francis put the blame for arming the warring nations on western powers. Pope Francis told Dominique Wolton that the Western powers are involved with arms dealings not only in the Middle East but also in other countries of Africa and Asia. He said, “We supply them with weapons so that they destroy themselves. People complain that migrants are coming to destroy us. But we’re the ones who are sending them the weapons! Look at the Middle East. It’s the same thing. Who is supplying the weapons? To Daesh, to those who support Assad in Syria, to the anti-Assad rebels?… When I say ‘we,’ I mean the West. I’m not accusing any country in particular… We cause chaos, people flee, and what do we do? We say: ‘Come on, sort yourself out!’ I don’t want to express myself too harshly, but we have no right not to help the people who arrive here.”

Pope Francis further said that the problem begins in the countries that the refugees come from. They leave their home because of a lack of work, or because of war. He said, “Those are the two main reasons. Lack of work, because they have been exploited – I am thinking of the Africans. Europe has exploited Africa… I don’t know if one can say that! But some examples of colonization… yes, they exploited Africa. It read that, with his first act of parliament, one African head of state proposed a law of reforestation for his country – and it was passed. The global economic powers had cut down all the trees. Reforestation. The land is dry from having been over-exploited, and there is no work. The first thing that needs to be done…is to find the sources of new jobs, and invest in them.”

When Dominique Wolton asked Pope Francis where politics start and finish for the Church, he said that the Church must be charitable because, as two of his predecessors, Pius XI and Paul VI had said, politics is one of the highest forms of charity. The Church must enter ‘high’ politics because the Church engages in ‘high’ politics — the politics that carries people forward on the basis of an evangelical proposition. But the Church must not get involved in the “low” politics of parties. He gave the example of the famous Monsieur l’Abbé and said, “And who were those abbots? They were priests who served the court and engaged in low politics. They weren’t pastors. True pastors are the Curé d’Arts, they’re Saint Pierre Fourier, who was confessor to the court, but who always kept himself apart from low politics. He waited for people to come and talk to him about what was on their minds. But he didn’t engage in low politics.” Pope Francis said, “I don’t think it’s good at all, having pastors and priests at receptions, at airports…”

 

Dominique Wolton has done a wonderful job of making Pope Francis open his heart and talk about subjects he had not previously spoken so much in detail. These conversations bring out an affable man and a statesman out of Pope Francis. As you read the conversations, you will likely exclaim at some point, “Vow! This pope has a heart!” A Future of Faith is not just for Catholics, it is for everybody including atheists. It is a must-read to get a different and fresh perspective on current global politics.

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