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Pope Francis bio fills gaps left by 'instant books' By Tom Heneghan | Reuters

By Tom Heneghan | Reuters 

Paris (Reuters) - A wave of "instant books" about Pope Francis rushed into print after his surprise election last March left readers waiting for one that brought more insight into the two seemingly contradictory phases in his past.

 In "Pope Francis: Untying the Knots," British journalist Paul Vallely fills that gap by showing how the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio went from being the divisive head of the Jesuit order inArgentina in the 1970s to the humble and inclusive pastor he became once made a bishop in 1992.

 Since so little was written in English about Bergoglio, the first quick biographies depended heavily on two books in Spanish, one a long interview with him and the other his dialogue with the chief rabbi ofBuenos Aires.

 Vallely told Reuters how he put together these contrasting episodes to give a fuller biography of theRoman Catholic Church's new leader.

Q: How did the book project start?

 A: I wrote a piece in The Independent (British newspaper) which explained to non specialists the symbolism of everything he did when he came out on the balcony after his election. The publishers read it and contacted me and said would you like to write a book? I said if this is going to be respectable, I need to go to Rome and to Argentina and you need to fund the travel. They agreed to that.

Q: Did you know Bergoglio or know much about him?

A: No, I was one of those who stood there as he came out and said, who's he? I was completely starting from scratch.

Q: How did you approach this book?

 A. A lot of the instant books collected all the anecdotes but they didn't know what to do with them. They just kind of strung them together like a list. It seemed to me it was important to find out what the story was and tell it. I wanted the book to have a pivotal point where you say 'and then he changed.' He's had 15 years doing good work in Buenos Aires, so it's not a recent change. ...more

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