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Photograph: EPA/ALESSANDRO DI MEO

A collection of interviews between Pope Francis and Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli with the pontiff's answers to questions on 40 topics ranging from mercy to homosexuality to globalization went on sale worldwide Tuesday.

The Name of God is Mercy is now available in 80 countries. It is based on interviews conducted in 2015, with the pope providing detailed answers to a series of questions posed by Tornielli.

One of the themes Francis returns to regularly is the need for mercy. It is important, he says, to fight the "globalization of disinterest."

He also spends time expounding on poverty, human trafficking, discrimination and "social diseases" which could be brought under control if humans showed more compassion for one another.

Italian actor Roberto Benigni - who achieved worldwide fame with films such as Life Is Beautiful and Night On Earth - helped present the book Tuesday.

The comedian praised the book as "beautiful" and extolled the fact that it is so easy to read.

The pope is "so full of mercy, you could sell it by the pound," he said in comments carried by Radio Vatican, part of an exuberant speech in which he praised Francis.

The release was timed to coincide with the start of the Jubilee of Mercy the pope has called. The Jubilee is a nearly year-long period during which pilgrims are urged to travel to Rome to seek forgiveness for their sins.

Although the pope has published several encyclicals since assuming his post in 2013, this is the first book where he is listed as an author.

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