Politi prophesies the wolves

cover66080-mediumMarco Politi, long-time Vatican-watcher and brilliant journalist, just published a book on the papacy of Francis.  An admirer of the pope’s surprise “revolution,” Politi writes that Francis’s formidable opponents make it far from certain that he will succeed.  I was honored to be asked by the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs to interview Politi for a live audience and webcast about the book, Pope Francis Among the Wolves (Columbia University Press, 2015).  You can see the September 30 video of our interview here.

On that date, just as Pope Francis had left the United States and returned to Rome, news broke that he had met privately with Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who had been jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  In a general op-ed uproar, U.S. liberals felt betrayed and conservatives felt vindicated.  Within a few days it came out that enemies of Francis within Roman church leadership likely set him up to seem to do something contrary to his inclusive message and ruin the good vibes of the American tour.  As the story unfolded, Politi’s book looked like a prophecy.

If Politi knew or suspected that night at the Carnegie Council that events would play out this way, he did not say.

Politi did tell me before the show, however, that he liked better the first cover proposed for his book, shown here.  Francis’s head is downcast.  He looks like he is leaving a scene of grief, or carnage. The press marketing department decided the photo was too sad.  Politi agreed; a book is meant to sell.  The new cover shows Francis with a modest smile.

But all the more, we now see what Politi’s book is about.  Even joyful revolutions are still wars.  We might see Francis smiling, but there are wolves.



  1. Thank you for the marvelous interview with Marco Politi. I learned so much!
    I will want to read his book but sadly feel the first cover of the downcast Pope might be more fitting.

    1. Thank you, Francie. Politi was so nuanced in person and in the book, even about Francis’s opponents. He seems to be naturally generous, but also sees the realpolitik, the “other side of the coin” in everything. It’s refreshing, given U.S. polarized discourse.

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