In February 2013, the arch-conservative Pope Benedict XVI made a startling announcement: he would resign, making him the first pope to willingly vacate his office in over 700 years. Reeling from the news, the College of Cardinals rushed to Rome to congregate in the Sistine Chapel to pick his successor. Their unlikely choice? Francis, the first non-European pope in 1,200 years, a onetime tango club bouncer, a passionate soccer fan, a man with the common touch.
Why did Benedict walk away at the height of power, knowing his successor might be someone whose views might undo his legacy? How did Francis – who used to ride the bus to work back in his native Buenos Aires – adjust to life as leader to a billion followers? If, as the Church teaches, the pope is infallible, how can two living popes who disagree on almost everything both be right? Having immersed himself in these men’s lives to write the screenplay for The Two Popes, Anthony McCarten masterfully weaves their stories into one gripping narrative. From Benedict and Francis’s formative experiences in war-torn Germany and Argentina to the sexual abuse scandal that continues to rock the Church to its foundations to the intrigue and the occasional comedy of life in the Vatican, The Two Popes glitters with the darker and the lighter details of one of the world’s most opaque but significant institutions.