CHICAGO — 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 since his election, in time for Easter. Readers can reserve copies starting March 13, the one-year anniversary of the pope's election.
"Pope Francis is arguably the most fascinating person on the planet," said Joe Durepos, the 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."
"It aligns with our mission," he added. "It's everything we're about as we move into the 21st century. The mandate I got was 'Get the book.'"
Durepos could not confirm a dollar amount for the publishing rights. But Loyola was the first to respond when bidding opened earlier this month. That hustle also gave Loyola the advantage of bidding last. The publisher received the manuscript Feb. 19.
Loyola rose to prominence in 1997 when it released The New York Times bestseller "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," 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.