The following comes from an Oct. 15 news release on Christian Newswire.

These days there is no shortage of conversation on the thoughts and actions of Pope Francis. No matter what side of the ideological spectrum one finds himself aligning, the Pope is sure to draw both support and criticism for the person (and Pope) people think that he is. But the best predictor of future behavior for any person is almost certainly always past behavior.

For the first time, a collection of little-known stories about Pope Francis has surfaced. Veteran journalist Alejandro Bermudez presents personal recollections from twenty individuals in Argentina who personally knew the man who became Pope Francis in the new book, Pope Francis: Our Brother, Our Friend.

popefrancis_ourbrotherourfriend_lg-1Ten Jesuits were interviewed for this book shortly after Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected the Pope. Some were his professors, some his peers and some younger Jesuits who were his students. Also interviewed for this book are non-Jesuits, including an Argentine senator, a prominent rabbi and a priest working in the slums of Buenos Aires that Bergoglio often visited.

Their remarks are focused on different aspects of the life of Pope Francis, including his family background, his abilities and his personality as administrator, friend, teacher and guide. Some of the predominant aspects of his personality to emerge are his longstanding simplicity and authentic spirituality; his concern for the individual and the poor; and his desire for the Church to go out to the street to meet the needs of the people. More controversial issues discussed include his dealing with the topic of Liberation Theology and his relationship with the military regime in Argentina.

Father Enrique Laje, S.J., a former professor of Jorge Bergoglio, says Bergoglio was adamantly opposed to the Argentinian government’s stance in favor of abortion and same-sex marriage.

“[Bergoglio] also entered into conflict [with the Argentinian government] by defending issues like the right to life of the unborn and the unique nature of marriage between a man and a woman,” said Laje. “He defended this when the minister of health was an abortionist. The Church is always going to criticize this because she is in favor of life, in favor of the Gospel and of moral and natural law. In this, the cardinal did nothing more than be Catholic.”

Father Fernando Cervera, S.J., whose spiritual advisor was Bergoglio, describes the many ways in which the future pope impacted his fellow Jesuits.

“He was a person who went from giving spiritual assistance to someone to speaking on the phone with a bishop or some important person to washing clothes in the laundry or to the kitchen or where they raised the ‘hogs,’ as we called the pigs, and then later went back to see what was going on in the classroom — and he was involved in every detail with each one of us,” said Cervera….

To read the entire release, click here.