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Author Spotlight: Msgr. Charles Murphy & Reclaiming Francis

June 16, 2014

When Pope Francis was elected in 2013, Msgr. Charles Murphy was working on the manuscript for a book on Saint Francis and the New Evangelization. It was providential. Murphy's book pointed to Saint Francis as the model for the modern New Evangelization. With a new pope taking the name Francis, it became clear he was on the right path. After the election, Murphy went back to work writing about the many important similarities between the saint and the pope and the worlds that encountered. 

An Interview with Msgr. Charles Murphy

Msgr. Murphy took a few minutes to answer our questions about this book in honor of this summer's Book of the Week series. Here is the interview: 

1. What inspired you to write Reclaiming Francis?

I was inspired to write this book in response to Pope Benedict's call for a new evangelization. St. Francis led the greatest religious revival in the history of the church. What can we learn from him for today?

2. What has the response been from readers of the book so far? 

Everyone loves St. Francis but few know much about him. Some readers have commented "I love St. Francis but he is not for everyone". I disagree. He followed the Gospel with great literalness as we all must do.

3. If you had to pick one characteristic of St. Francis that could best help us carry out the new evangelization today, what would it be? Why? 

Perfect joy. Pope Francis has reiterated this in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.

4. Same question, but for Pope Francis. If you had to pick one characteristic of Pope Francis that could best help us carry out the new evangelization today, what would it be? Why? 

Witness. When you encounter Pope Francis you are meeting someone who witnesses to Jesus.

5. A few weeks ago, you presented Pope Francis with a copy of your book. What was that experience like? 

After the Wednesday public audience I presented my book to Pope Francis. He had already been driven around St. Peter's Square 45 minutes before the audience began greeting people. He shook every bishop's hand. At the end he greeted the sick, then married couples (in their wedding attire). Then, though he seemed tired, he gladly received my book and thanked me for it. We spoke in English.

6. How has your ministry changed as a result of writing this book? 

I find myself challenging people more to practice evangelical simplicity of life, not buying into consumerism, and being more mindful of the poor in our midst.

Reclaiming Francis is this week's Book of the Week. Find out more at

About Charles M. Murphy

Monsignor Charles M. Murphy is the director of the permanent diaconate for the Diocese of Portland, Maine. He is the author of a number of scholarly articles and several books, including The Spirituality of Fasting, At Home on the Earth, Wallace Stevens: A Spiritual Poet in a Secular Age, and Belonging to God. Murphy is the former academic dean and rector of the Pontifical North American College in Rome and served as part of the editorial group working in Italy under Cardinal Ratzinger on the third draft of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which became the fourth and final version.

Murphy serves as consultant to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops committee on catechetics, reviewing materials for conformity with the Catechism. He served as chair of the editorial committee that produced the pastoral letter on environmental issues by the Bishops of the Boston Province and he served as a consultant to the USCCB for their statement on global warming. He has been the pastor of four parishes in Maine and has served his diocese in ecumenical and educational capacities. Murphy holds a doctorate in sacred theology from the Gregorian University, a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, and a bachelor’s degree in classics from the College of the Holy Cross.

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