Pope Francis reflects on his life and mortality in memoir

By Thomson Reuters Mar 15, 2024 | 5:30 AM

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, at 87 increasingly weak and wobbly, takes a trip down memory lane and speaks of his hopes for the Roman Catholic Church’s future in a new book reflecting on his life and its intersection with major world events.

“Life – My Story Through History,” a memoir written with Italian journalist Fabio Marchese Ragona and published by HarperCollins, goes on sale on March 19, the 11th anniversary of Francis’ installation as the first Latin American pope.

While offering little that is new, the 230-page book is a breezy, conversational-style read starting with his childhood in Buenos Aires to today.

It is punctuated by events including World War Two, the Holocaust, the Cold War, the 1969 Moon landing, the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, the September 11, 2001 attacks and the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI in 2013.

Francis, whose health recently has shown signs of strain with successive bouts of bronchitis, a spate of hospital stays and difficulty walking, repeats that he has no intention of resigning like his predecessor unless “a serious physical impediment were to arise”.

He jokes that while some of his conservative critics “may have hoped” he would have announced a resignation after a hospital stay, there is little or no risk of it because “there are many projects to bring to fruition, God willing”.

He again defends his recent decision to allow blessings for people in same-sex relationships, reiterating that they are not blessings for the union itself but of individuals “who seek the Lord but are rejected or persecuted”.

The Church, he says, does “not have the power to change the sacraments created by the Lord” and that “this (the blessings) does not mean that the Church is in favour of same-sex marriage”.


Addressing the controversy about the recent ruling, he says: “I imagine a mother Church that embraces and welcomes everyone, even those who feel they are in the wrong and have been judged by us in the past”.

Francis writes that even if some bishops refuse to offer blessings for those in same-sex relationships, as in Africa, “it doesn’t mean that this is the antechamber to schism, because the Church’s doctrine is not brought into question”.

Throughout the book he leans on historical events as backdrops to make appeals relating to current, sometimes similar, situations.

Speaking of World War Two, he writes that still today “Jews continue to be stereotyped and persecuted. This is not Christian; it’s not even human. When will we understand that these are our brothers and sisters?”

Reflecting on the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States by Islamists, he writes, “It is blasphemous to use the name of God to justify slaughter, murder, terrorist attack, the persecution of individuals and entire populations – as some still do. Nobody can invoke the name of the Lord to wreak evil.”

He dismisses as “fantasy, obviously invented”, recent reports by conservative American Catholic media that he would change the rules of conclaves to allow nuns and lay people to enter conclaves to choose future popes.

On the lighter side, he speaks of the controversial “Hand of God” goal by fellow Argentine Diego Maradona at the 1986 World Cup soccer final against Germany, which the referee allowed, presumably because he did not notice Maradona had used his hand.

Years later, when Maradona visited the pope at the Vatican, “I asked him, jokingly, ‘So, which is the guilty hand?'” Francis writes.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; editing by Mark Heinrich)