Timothy Egan: A Modern Day Pilgrim

By Tom Deignan

In late October, media outlets around the world reported that Pope Francis had expressed support for civil unions, “a significant break from his predecessors that staked out new ground for the church in its recognition of gay people,” as the New York Times put it.

It was the latest historic moment for a pope who has excited reformers within the church, while at the same time enraging more traditional-minded Catholics.

Francis is also at the center of Irish American New York Times columnist Tim Egan’s latest book, A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of Faith, recently released in paperback.

Egan sat down with Irish America recently (via Zoom, of course) to talk about all of this more – how his family has personally been affected by the Coronavirus and church sex abuse scandals, his fascination with Irish rebel Thomas Meagher, and what to expect from a post-Francis Catholic church.

A Pilgrimage to Eternity also explores Egan’s own Irish Catholic upbringing, and the state of this ancient faith in the 21st Century, all as Egan hikes his way across Europe on the 1,100-mile Via Francigena trail. Along the way, Egan is communicating with the Vatican, and, in the end, just might conclude this pilgrimage by sitting down with the pope himself.

With the church pondering historic changes, and Catholic American voters expected to play a pivotal role in the upcoming presidential election, Egan’s book and observations could not be more timely.


Read the full transcript of the interview and see pictures from Tim’s pilgrimage along the Via Francigena.

Tom Deignan is an author, teacher, and columnist for the Irish Voice and Irish America (tdeignan.blogspot.com).

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