John Cornwell at the Financial Times:
Here is his bid. Francis has written a book, The Name of God is Mercy, with a powerful message for the world’s 1.2bn Roman Catholics. We are all sinners, he is saying, all guilty; but God’s mercy is infinite and so is the mercy of God’s Church.
Published this week in more than 80 countries, the book may console Catholics who have struggled to keep within the Church’s rules. But it will anger those for whom the rules are everything. It is also likely to puzzle lay and clerical Catholics with sensitive consciences. Is the pope saying that the rules can be broken? Is he saying, for example, that the ban on contraception has ended? That it is all right to be a practising homosexual? The answer to these questions is not straightforward. His critics may well accuse him of having over-reached himself.
Francis has only one fully functioning lung and suffers from chronic sciatica. He rises at 4:30, starting his day with two hours’ prayer. He takes no holidays. Last year was a helter-skelter. There were back-to-back meetings with recalcitrant church committees. In October he chaired the second of two contentious synods on the family — high-level clerical talking-shops in which elderly celibate prelates squabbled heatedly over the status of Catholic divorcees who remarry.