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The part Kenny show on news talk with Marter private network during current restrictions. Don't ignore your health concerns. Our expert team is ready to help. Now, with Christmas around the corner, the pope is looking to spread some hope and inspire a path to a better future with his new book, Let US Dream, it's written in response to difficult questions posed by British journalist Austin Avory. While the pope was locked down in the Vatican after accepting the role of ghostwriter, Austin compiled the pope's thoughts after, we're told, many spirited exchanges between the two and Austin.


Ivery joins me now. Good morning and welcome.


Good morning, Pat. Good to be with you. Can I just correct one thing? I think ghostwriter isn't quite right, because that implies that I wrote it on his behalf. It was much more really a work of collaboration. In other words, you know, I helped to prepare a draft and he would work on it. He was very intensely involved with the whole thing.


OK, but I was wondering, did you actually and I was going to my first question was about the mechanic. How did it actually work?


Well, yeah, because as you said, you know, he was in lockdown in Rome. I was in in England. So I couldn't go over there and have hours of conversation with him. So generally, I would send him questions and he would reply with recorded answers. So which I was sent his audio files. But there were also documents that he sent me or he directed me to his writings from his past or indeed as pope. So there was quite a lot of different raw materials involved in the construction of the book.


But the words effectively are the pope's. Well, everything is his I mean, even when I was drafting from, you know, his writings or his talks, that still it was all him. And I don't appear in the book at all. It's not a question and answer, which is one of the things that makes it very unusual. I mean, it's the first book ever written by a pope in response to a crisis, also the first one not done as a sort of question and answer.


And the third thing that makes it actually really quite remarkable is that and this was at his insistence, even though all exchanges were always in Spanish, he wanted the first draft in English. He felt that because that was my mother language that it would it would be helpful. So I joked with him that he would be the most naturally English sounding pope since Adrian Adrian the the fourth in the 12th century. It was the only ever English pope and he liked that.


Now, there's one quote which struck me for a long time. We carried on thinking we could be healthy in a world that was sick. But the crisis has brought home how important it is to work for a healthy world. And it's not simply the pandemic he's preoccupied by.


He's preoccupied by climate change. He is preoccupied by the number of people who are hungry, the amount of money that is spent on weaponry every year, and the outcome, I suppose, of that kind of spending.


Yeah, I mean, for Pope Francis, this pandemic, the covid pandemic, it reveals other pandemics. So it's a it's a clarifying moment, a revealing moment in which he talks about, you know, what about the pandemics that we can't see that we've lived with for years, the climate crisis, inequality, child hunger, the arms trade, all the other ills that beset our globe, which are reflective in his view of the way we have organized ourselves on a kind of individualist principle of the myth of self-sufficiency.


And I think what he what he sees in the crisis is an opportunity for us to grasp what's really been going on. So there's there's a reality check, if you like, and that is the opportunity, the hope of the crisis. But we can only have that change. We can only realize how we need to change if we're able to look at the suffering and the pain and the margins of society, what which this pandemic has thrown up, allow ourselves to be moved and affected by that and then open ourselves then to to the process of change, because it's only when we, as it were, turned outside ourselves and go, gosh, we need to be different.


That change can begin to happen. Now, we know from what we learned when he first became pope that he's a very humble individual. I mean, much was made, if you remember, of the shoes he was wearing. There were stout roadworthy shoes. They weren't papal slippers. And we knew that he was a fan of the beautiful game of soccer. And we also suspected that he had a great sense of humor. Did you manage to bring that across?


Yeah, yeah. I mean, there's there's quite a lot of humor in the book. I mean, the great thing about the book, I think, is it really does capture Francis at his most at his most intimate really. It's the most personal. And that's the advantage of a book like this is unlike, you know, formal church papal teaching, which has to go through lots of different bodies here. He can, as it were, kick off his his his shoes and talk about his life as well and give very personal reflections.


And one of things that he does come across is a sense of humor. And one of the laugh out loud moments in the book is when he's talking about one of his own personal crises back in the back in the early 1990s when he was when he was really given as a Jesuit, given no role at all. And it was a very difficult period for him for a couple of years. And he describes how he actually prayed a lot, wrote a lot and read a lot.


And he said one of the things I read was a 37 volume of the history of the popes. And he says, you know, having discovered what previous popes got up to, he said, When I got to the Vatican when I was elected, nothing could shock me. But I mean, the serious point there was that, you know, God works in these moments, that in these moments of suffering and tribulation, we often have an opening within us to the new things which when we look back on them, we realize actually we're a great gift.


Now, when you think of the pope and you think of that the Curia and you think of the administration, I suppose the people who do the running of the church on a day to day basis reminded a bit of, you know, the president of the United States who will be Joe Biden and the difficulty he will have with the Senate, which will be Republican.


There will be a tension there. So the reforming Biden, if that's how you'd like to characterize him, will be frustrated by at the nonconformist GOP is the same sort of process going on in the Vatican.


And does the pope even refer to that obliquely or directly?


Well, one of the interesting pages in Letter Stream in the book is, is about the role of women in general. But he then talks about women's leadership in the church and he talks about why it's been important to him to name women laywomen to very high positions in the Vatican, including this summer. Actually, while we were doing the book, he named six out of seven of the lay members of what's called the Council for the Economy, which oversees the Vatican finances, is extremely important body.


And he appointed they were almost all women that he appointed. And he explains why not just that they were professional, incredibly well qualified, but as women, he said, you know, they they're able to manage processes better. But also he reckons that it's important to challenge clericalism. Clericalism for him is the great enemy. And I mean, that's really his reform in Rome. And here I'm speaking as a commentator, rather than speaking out of the book with his reform in Rome has been to change a culture, a mindset, if you like, a courtly mindset into one of service.


You know, the idea of the Vatican bureaucracy at the service of the church and indeed of the world and the needs of humanity. That's been, I think, the major shift of his reforms underpinned, of course, by lots of structural and legal changes. But I think the most significant element of it is that change in mindset.


Now, the pope openly supported civil unions for same sex partners, not just unions now, but civil unions. How significant do you think that was in him going public like that? Well, it was a very big story.


It was a few weeks back when when the line was reported from a documentary which came out. In fact, when I received lots of calls that day, I had to point out he had been saying this very consistently since when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires back in 2010, when the then Peronist Kirchner government introduced Latin America's first same sex marriage law and Mario Bergoglio. His position then was very clear, which was that he doesn't believe in marriage redefinition. He doesn't believe in same sex marriage, but he does believe that long term, stable, cohabiting relationships need state civil protection.


And that applies to, you know, to sort of to widows who decide to live together as much as it would to a gay couple. The point is that that rights to visits and hospital rights to receive property and that kind of thing deserve civil support. And you can do that without redefining or changing marriage, which in his view must remain special. So I don't think even though it seemed to be a big story on the day, I think actually it's a very it's a nuance position that's quite typical, I think of many.


Modern European bishops as well. Now he refers to the toppling of statues as an attempt to purify history. What does he mean?


Well, he's talking in part one of let us dream about the movements which are asserting human dignity. And so he has quite interesting pages about abuse, whether it's clerical sex abuse or the metoo movement or the killing of Jorge Floyd, which was very much uppermost on his mind when we were doing the book. He sees these abuses of power, whether it is a sexual as well, but ultimately have its roots in a kind of sense of of entitlement and a refusal to respect limits.


So there's a sort of a I don't know, having identified the sin, he then sees the movement, particularly Black Lives Matter movement, as asserting human dignity. But then he departs from Black Lives Matter when it comes to the pulling down of statues, because he says the danger here is that we try to purify or cancel the past rather than embrace the past in all of its shame. Those for him, it's about owning our past and learning from it.


And the problem is that when you go back and you're trying to eradicate or change that past, then the danger is you then don't learn from it. So for him, memory is very important as part of the process of change. Is he a pessimist about the future, because there's a quote from his favorite author, Frederick Holdren, which reads, Where the danger is grows the saving power, whereas the saving power.


Well, I think that's the message of hope in the book, is that wherever there is the threat of destruction, there is also the salvation. And that's one of the things that we learn from the experience of a loving, merciful God. And that's yeah, if you like. The story of the flood is also the story of Noah's Ark and the new future that the ark takes you to. On the other hand, I don't think he's an optimist because I don't think he sees he sees in a lot of what's going on at the moment in this crisis an attempt simply to, as he puts it, just sort of varnish a few things.


But basically, we want to go back to where it was before and those people are kind of waiting to get back to normal. And his point is that there will be no normal after this, that from a crisis like this, you either come out better or you come out worse. And his, if you like, the urgency of this book and the depth of this book, I think comes from the fact of realizing that we have a choice and that choice is real.


You know, we are free and we can resist the possibility of change and we can embrace it. And it's in that in the drama, if you like, of that freedom, of that existential choice that the that the drama of this moment lies. And that's why I think the power in the way of the book is, is to say we are responsible for what comes afterwards. And he proposes in a number of very concrete ways, in part three of the book, how as societies and as individuals, we can embrace that different future by putting fraternity and solidarity at the heart of our society rather than the myth of individual self-sufficiency.


Well, the book is called Let US Dream the Path to a Better Future. It's co-written, I suppose I should say, by Pope Francis and by Austin Ivery and Austin. Thank you very much for joining us on the program.


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