Eluding Established Categories: Toward an Understanding of Pope Francis

  • Alynna J. Lyon
  • Christine A. Gustafson
  • Paul Christopher Manuel
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Religion, Politics, and Policy book series (PSRPP)


Pope Francis overturns the applecart of many classificatory schemes. He genuinely confuses most political observers because his papacy does not fit neatly into any such scheme. To gain a deeper appreciation of Francis’s complicated papacy, this volume proposes that an interdisciplinary approach, fusing the concepts derived from the fields of moral theology and the social sciences, may properly situate Pope Francis. It starts with a brief literature review of both the popular and the scholarly work on Francis, and then moves on to a general overview of the key characteristics of his papacy in thought, word, and deed. First, in thought: in his encyclicals and his apostolic exhortations, Francis challenges Catholics and, indeed, all people of good will to morally engage and care for the poor, the environment, the neighbor, and the other. Second, in word: through speeches, twitter, and other social media, this pope has gone public and seeks out audiences beyond the global Catholic community. Finally, in deed: Francis is distinct in his actions, in terms of both his own placement and the political activism he calls for, perhaps best exemplified by his rejection of the world of consumerism, highlighted by his Fiat in lieu of a limousine.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alynna J. Lyon
    • 1
  • Christine A. Gustafson
    • 2
  • Paul Christopher Manuel
    • 3
  1. 1.University of New HampshireDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Saint Anselm CollegeManchesterUSA
  3. 3.American UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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