Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

A revealing book recommendation from the Pope

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 20, 2015

Twice now, Pope Francis has recommended Robert Hugh Benson's apocalyptic novel, Lord of the World. It’s interesting that an English novel—written more than a century ago, and no longer easy to find—would figure prominently in the public remarks of a Pontiff who is not fluent in English. This bears investigation, don’t you think?

Speaking to reporters on the flight from Manila to Rome yesterday, the Pope said that those who read Benson’s novel “will understand what I mean by ideological colonization.” That’s a striking remark, too, because Lord of the World is not really about colonization; it’s about the Antichrist and the end of the world. So what is Pope Francis saying about this book?

Back in November 2013, in his homily at a morning Mass, the Pope said that the Benson novel reads today “almost as though it were a prophecy, as though he envisioned what would happen.”

Now we have two points of reference. The Pope thinks Lord of the World explains “ideological colonization” and he thinks the author anticipated what is happening in the world today. Put those ideas together, add the undeniable fact that the book is about Antichrist, and you realize that Pope Francis doesn’t have a very rosy understanding of where globalization is taking us.

If you’re inclined to take the Pope’s recommendation—and to gain some insight into his thinking in the process—you can find Lord or the World in an inexpensive paperback; the Kindle version version is free. 


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - Jan. 21, 2015 10:20 AM ET USA

    It is a reassuring recommendation indeed. Many of the defects in the way we follow Christ these days is, in my mind, due to a lack of eschatological concern. That is quite clear, to me, in the writings of Leonardo Boff, for instance (Liberation Theologist, claims to be a friend of the Pope, VERY influential with the Brazilian National Bishop's Conference). That the Pope knows and recommends Benson reassures me for that shows that he is aware of the last things.

  • Posted by: pja - Jan. 20, 2015 8:30 PM ET USA

    "Lord of the World" is an excellent read. In addition to a free Kindle version, it can also be found as an e-book for Nook readers for $2.99 on Barnes & Noble. Well worth the investment of time and $.