New book collects pope's daily Santa Marta homilies

Vatican City — For the first time since Pope Francis' election last March, the pontiff's popular daily morning homilies are being collected into one volume.*

The homilies, normally short extemporaneous remarks by the pope made during Masses with small groups at the Vatican hotel where he is keeping residence, are being released Thursday as part of a new Italian book.

Titled The Truth is an Encounter: Homilies from Santa Marta, the book has a preface by Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi and has been compiled by Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, the editor in chief of the Jesuit magazine La Civiltà Cattolica who is known for interviewing Francis last year.

Santa Marta is the name of the hotel where Francis has been living since his election as pope last March. Choosing to live there instead of the Apostolic Palace, Francis has been celebrating Masses most mornings with small invite-only groups.

The Vatican has not made the full text of the pope's homilies during those Masses public, instead publishing selected excerpts via Vatican Radio, which Lombardi also heads. The texts that have been released paint a portrait of a homilist who uses simple phrases to reflect directly on the readings of each day, while also reflecting on a wide range of subjects -- warning against both the "crime of gossip" and "those who wish to turn the clock back" on the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

"The daily homilies of Pope Francis are obviously of a different genre" than those of Pope Benedict XVI, Lombardi writes in his preface. Referring to the founder of the Jesuit order, of which Francis is also a member, Lombardi says the homilies are "of a son of Saint Ignatius used to 'help souls' to 'seek and find the will of God' every day,' watching and following Jesus carrying the cross to save us, under the gaze of the Father's love."

The new volume, which was made available to press Tuesday, begins with the pope's homily from March 25, 2013 -- titled "God is patient with our weaknesses" -- through from March 20 of this year. It also contains a 35-page introduction to the themes of the popes homilies, written by Spadaro.

Some notable titles of homilies given in the text:

  • From April 6, 2013: "Faith is not negotiable;"
  • From May 16, 2013: "The church serves apostolic fervor;"
  • From June 19, 2013: "Do not be hypocrites and moralists;"
  • From Sept. 24, 2013: "The sacrament is not a magic rite;"
  • From January 24, 2014: "Always build points of dialog;"
  • From March 17, 2014: "Mercy is the way of peace for the world."

The Italian text is being published by Rizzoli, which has also said it plans to release in May another volume of CDs containing audio of the pope's homilies.

[Joshua J. McElwee is NCR national correspondent. His email address is Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

*The original version of this post incorrectly reported how much of the homilies are being made public.

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