Pope Francis has explained to British papal biographer, Austen Ivereigh, how he is living and contemplating the Coronavirus crisis, and preparing practically and spiritually for its aftermath.
The author of ‘The Great Reformer’ had sent the Holy Father questions, and Francis, in Spanish, offered his thoughts and advice for how a world, in lockdown, can spiritually prepare for Easter.
Dr Austen Ivereigh, 54, authored two prominent books on Pope Francis and the pontificate: The Great Reformer: Francis and the making of a radical pope (Henry Holt/Picador, 2014/2015) and Wounded Shepherd: Pope Francis and his struggle to convert the Catholic Church (New York: Henry Holt, 2019).
A Fellow in Contemporary Church History at the Jesuit-run Campion Hall, University of Oxford, Ivereigh also writes regularly for Commonweal, The Tablet, and America magazine.
The 3,000 word interview was published today, April 8, by The Tablet in the UK and Commonweal in the United States, who were granted rights to publish the interview in English.
It was available from that time in the original Spanish on the website of ABC in Spain, and in an Italian translation on the website of La Civiltà Cattolica, who have the publication rights to those languages.
“Towards the end of March,” Ivereigh begins the interview, “I suggested to Pope Francis that this might be a good moment to address the English-speaking world: the pandemic that had so affected Italy and Spain was now reaching the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia. Without promising anything, he asked me to send some questions.”
“I picked six themes, each one with a series of questions he could answer or not as he saw fit. A week later, I received a communication that he had recorded some reflections in response to the questions. The interview was conducted in Spanish; the translation is my own,” he explained.
The Pontiff responded to the British author’s questions on how he, personally, is experiencing the pandemic, practically and spiritually; how he saw the mission of the Church at this time; his response to government policies in relation to the crisis, and what the crisis was revealing about society.
He also speaks about whether he saw in the crisis “the possibility of an ecological conversion and a more human-centred economy, and a more missionary, flexible Church,”
Francis also responds to how he believes Christians are called to live this Easter, and what his messages were to the elderly, the young and the impoverished.