Austen Ivereigh, author of The Great Reformer: The Making of a Radical Pope, gave a lecture in August at Chicago's St. Ignatius College Prep in which he discussed the pope’s political role in the world, as well as the upcoming papal visit to the United States. Ivereigh, whose book has been praised by members of both political parties, started his lecture by stating that the most common problem that people run into with Pope Francis is that they overanalyze his agenda, often forgetting that it is his docility to the Holy Spirit that has captured the world’s attention.
Pope Francis’ political journey started with his grandmother, Rosa, who was his political inspiration and who encouraged him to become engaged with issues. Ivereigh believes that the pope was a bit torn between politics and religion and ultimately combined the two, giving the pope his unique charismatic blend.
When asked about what the pope will say to Congress, Ivereigh said he believes the pope will work to keep both sides in constant tension with one another, creating the space for dialogue and reform. While many will try to frame the pope's remarks as being for one side or the other, the author explained that the pope hates being pigeonholed. Ivereigh predicts that Francis’ main message will be that politicians should be close to the realities of the people they serve and make every effort to care for those on the margins of society. The author said this visit should be seen by Congress and the public as an invitation for the renewal of U.S. politics.
While in Chicago, Ivereigh was interviewed by The Catholic New World. Read more about his work and research on Pope Francis here.