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BOOK REVIEW:

On heaven and earth : Pope Francis on faith, family, and the church in the twenty-first century

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Call Number: 
261 F818

In 2010, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) had a series of religious dialogues with a fellow Argentinian, Abraham Skorka, a Conservative Rabbi and biophysicist. The two religious leaders discussed the principle that the role of faith plays in dealing with contemporary issues such as economic inequality, euthanasia, treatment of the elderly, political corruption, abortion and materialism. More controversially, they shared their opposition to gay marriage, their respect for some communists, their agreement that the Catholic Church had a mixed record during the Holocaust, and an admission that both of them could have done more to save lives during Argentina's Dirty War in the 1970s.

Both clerics have an issue with extremes: militant atheism and religious fundamentalism.  A distinction is made between Jewish and Christian views of sin, mortality and the afterlife. The Catholic abuse scandals are brought up. Pope Francis wants candidates for the priesthood to go through psychological screening but he is opposed to married priests. The role of women is briefly mentioned--gay rights and women's rights are issues Pope Francis wants to have a dialogue about with his critics.

Pope Francis makes an impression as a warm, tolerant man with a few doctrinaire views. He can have an intellectual discussion about Christian and Jewish theology and tell homespun anecdotes. Rabbi Skorka has an agreeable disposition and is considerably well-read, though he has some of his own orthodox views. Their friendship of these two men is a credit to the open-minded character of both.

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