Small Jesuit press to publish Pope Francis book

Chicago TribuneMarch 8, 2014 

“The Church of Mercy,” by Pope Francis.

A Chicago Catholic press has beat out the nation’s top publishing houses for the rights to produce the North American English translation of Pope Francis’ first book written as pontiff.

Loyola Press, the publishing arm of the Chicago-area Jesuits, expects to publish “The Church of Mercy,” a compilation of essays, speeches and homilies by Pope Francis, in time for Easter. Readers can reserve copies starting Thursday, the one-year anniversary of the pope’s election.

“Pope Francis is arguably the most fascinating person on the planet,” said Joe Durepos, executive editor of trade acquisitions at Loyola Press who closed the deal. “For us as a small Jesuit-owned publishing company, to publish a book by Pope Francis in the English language market was a no-brainer.”

Durepos could not confirm a dollar amount for the publishing rights. But Loyola was the first to respond when bidding opened last month.

Loyola rose to prominence in 1997 when it released The New York Times best-seller “The Gift of Peace,” Cardinal Joseph Bernardin’s memoir about the last three years of his life. The press also has published “My Life With the Saints,” by the Rev. James Martin, and, more recently, “Pope Francis: Why He Leads the Way He Leads,” Chris Lowney’s book about how applying Jesuit principles made Francis a popular and successful leader from the moment he greeted the world as pope.

Steve Connor, director of product development at Loyola, said that moment set the tone for the papacy and is captured in the book.

“Instead of a church that is closed within itself, his gesture of opening his arms to embrace everyone is his stance for the church today,” Connor said.

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