You needn’t be Catholic to find comfort in the message of Pope Francis. Nor do you need to be a believer to see that his progressive ideas and plainspoken delivery make him a different kind of messenger. In the inspiring new documentary Pope Francis — A Man of His Word, the humble priest from Buenos Aires comes down from the gilded altar of St. Peter’s and speaks to the camera at eye level, addressing the challenges of the 21st century: family, poverty, social justice, the environment, and, yes, even the abuses of the church he represents. It’s a refreshingly timely dialogue from an organization that’s often been slow to step out of the past.
Directed by Wim Wenders and made with the full cooperation of the Vatican, the film isn’t a biography of the man formerly known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Rather, it’s an intimate and rare audience with a compassionate populist, tracing his spiritual relationship with his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi (another environmentally minded reformer), and tracking his travels across the globe, where he doesn’t just seem to talk, he listens. Whether he’s washing the feet of prisoners in America, visiting sick children in Africa, or praying with hurricane victims in Asia, Pope Francis doesn’t merely preach empathy, responsibility, and accountability, he lives it. A-