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Pope Francis (2021)Pope Francis (2021)

When Jorge Bergoglio was named the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church on March 13, 2013, many observers were stunned. He wasn't high on anybody's list of probable candidates. At age 76 he was old. "This was a game changer," said one insider. Bergoglio was the first pope to take the name Francis. He's the first pope from the Americas, the first non-European, and first Jesuit priest to be named pope. This one-hour overview of Francis's life aired on July 20, 2021 as part of PBS's series called "In Their Own Words." It's a brisk and very positive take on the pope. It begins with his birth into an Italian immigrant family in Buenos Aires and ends with his visit to Iraq in June of 2021 (the first leader of the Catholic Church to visit that country). It considers his positions on women, climate change, gays, the sexual abuse scandals that have rocked the church, and especially his efforts to place the poor and the marginalized at the center of his papacy. Critics will say that the film is superficial and uncritical, or that Francis has not done enough, but there's only so much you can expect in one hour.  I especially appreciated the judicious commentary of Austen Ivereigh, who has written two biographies of Francis. I watched this film from the PBS website.

Dan Clendenin:

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