Pope's Jesuit interview published as book

by Joshua J. McElwee

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Pope Francis' wide-ranging interview with an Italian Jesuit priest, printed in 16 publications run by the order around the world and noted widely for the pontiff's gentle tone on sometimes controversial issues, has been republished as a book in Italy.

Released Wednesday by a publishing house that also owns one of Italy's largest newspapers, the book is titled La mia porta è sempre aperta -- in English, "My door is always open."

The new book collects some six hours of interviews Jesuit Fr. Anthony Spadaro had with the pope before the interview was published in the Jesuit publications at a some 12,000 word length. Unclear, however, is whether the new publishing collects additional material from their conversations that was not previously published.

Publicity materials for the book, available at retailers throughout Italy and online, state that it is a publishing of a "new edition" of the interview, "enriched with valuable analysis and background."

A spokeswoman for the publisher said in an email that the book "is complete, with more details and enriched with notes, insights and references to earlier works of [Cardinal] J. Mario Bergoglio."

Bergoglio is Pope Francis' birth name. The book is being published by Rizzoli, an Italian publishing house that is owned by the same media group that owns Corriere della Sera, one of Italy's most popular papers.

Annamaria Guadagni, head of Rizzoli's public relations department, also said there are plans to publish the book in English, and that it is tentatively set for a 2014 release with Bloomsbury.

Spadaro heads La Civiltà Cattolica, an Italian journal run by the Jesuits. Francis is the first Jesuit elected as pope.

The interview published by the Jesuits from their encounters was noted by many for the pontiff's apparent shift in the church's emphasis from condemnation to mercy.

"The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules," Francis says at one point. "Ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all."

The interview, however, also drew some criticism when it was noted that the U.S. printing of its contents left out several sentences regarding the pope's view on the role of women in the church. America magazine, the Jesuit journal in the U.S. that printed it in the country, apologized for those omissions, saying they were part of a production error.

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

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