Bronze-level articlePope Francis

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File:Pope Francis in March 2013.jpg
"It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world to get [me]."[1]

Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1936) was elected the 266th Pope of the Roman Catholic Church on March 13, 2013. He took the name Francis to honor Saint Francis of Assisi.[2]

Pope Francis is the first Pope from the Americas. He is a child of Italian immigrants, making him the first Italian pope since John Paul I's 33-day papacy in 1978. He is also the first Jesuit Pope in the history of the Catholic Church.

Contents

[edit] Education

Before joining the priesthood, Bergoglio obtained a masters degree in chemistry from Buenos Aires University. He later took degrees in philosophy and theology after joining the order, and obtained a PhD.[3]

[edit] Austerity

As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio was known for having taken his Jesuit vow of poverty extremely seriously. He refused to stay in the archbishop’s palace and to use a chauffeured limousine, instead living in an apartment, cooking his own meals and riding public transportation. [4]

When chosen as pope, he asked his fellow Argentines not to come to Rome with him, but to donate the money they would have spent on airfare to the poor, in marked contrast to other Bishops.[5]

As pope, Francis has rejected luxurious papal apartments, choosing instead a small two-room suite customarily regarded as suitable for visiting cardinals.[6] Francis also toned down the ostentation of his robes,[7] his ring and the like, generally adopting a more 'humble' papal style.

[edit] Views

We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the Church is likely to fall like a house of cards.
—Pope Francis[8]
There is a carefully cultivated ambiguity about the man who is the 266th successor to St Peter. And it is producing a war of words between conservatives and liberals, inside and outside the Catholic church, with each trying to claim the pontiff for their side in a religious culture war.
The Guardian [9]

Although Pope Francis is (or at least, is seen as) more liberal than his predecessor, he brings a mixed bag of social positions.

Pope Francis is significantly swayed by his influential friends.[10] This has led both to some of his most liberal moments (and subsequent walkbacks by Vatican) and to some questions about the independence of his papacy.

[edit] Sexual freedom

Of course, as the leader of a religion that opposes gay marriage, contraception and abortion, he takes a conservative stance on these issues. Still, Francis might have introduced some marginal ambiguity by making some vague comments which might arguably be interpreted as conceivably condoning the hypothetical use of condoms to prevent the spread of diseases like AIDS.[11] In a less positive direction in 2010, Bergoglio stated that an Argentine bill that would allow gay marriage was "a real and dire anthropological throwback," and further a "‘move’ of the Father of Lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God."[12] Francis espoused the idea of civil unions as a "compromise".[13]

In July 2013, the Pope issued a rather interesting comment about homosexuals: "If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?" His handlers immediately went into damage control, insisting the Pope did not exactly mean what he said, and that gay sex is still a sin. Francis strongly opposes gay adoption. [14]

[edit] On capitalism and poverty

He is a solid supporter of social justice programs, stating publicly he wants "a poor Church, for the poor"[15] and called on all people to protect the environment.[16]

The Society of Saint Pius X, a traditionalist Catholic group, has criticized Francis's stance on poverty as it indicates a focus on "man-centered philanthropy" as opposed to "religious leadership."[17]

Although Francis' policies on treatment of the poor are much-more socially minded than those of his precedessors, he opposes liberation theology.

Pope Francis urged world leaders to prevent excessive respect for money, and claims human beings are sacrificed to the idol of money. [18] Francis further urged world leaders to help poor people more.[19] Dealing with the financial crisis, the pope criticised unbridled capitalism and claimed it is a "tyranny" that judged human beings purely by their ability to consume goods, and that the "cult of money" was making people miserable.[20][21]

Opposition to contraception, however, will make it harder to fight poverty and overpopulation.

[edit] Atheism

Francis's views on atheism are equally mixed. While he holds that the “attempt to eliminate God and the Divine from the horizon of humanity” is disastrous, he does not turn his back on atheists; rather, he recognizes that people without religious beliefs can be allies in areas like environmental protection, also the promotion of peace and human dignity. [22]

Atheist views on the Pope Francis vary from complete indifference to hopes that he can have a positive influence on his church.

[edit] The role of women

Francis initially made a few moves that suggested possible openness on the question of the relationship between women and the Catholic Church. In March 2013, Francis broke with tradition and washed the feet of women for the first time during the Maundy Thursday ritual.[23] This made some members of the Church anxious that Francis may intend to allow the ordination of women, although Francis has indicated that he would oppose such a move.[24] Leading female Roman Catholics such as scholar Carolyn Osiek hoped Francis would allow women some religious leadership,[25] as he has also stated that women play an important role in the Church and that the Church was wrong to downplay that role.[26] For Francis, without women the Church "would be missing maternity, affection, tenderness." While that reflects the lingering patriarchal nature of the Church - the idea of special roles for each gender - it's an improvement on some of the more blatant sexism that the Church has engaged in.

On July 29, 2013, Francis said the church must develop a more profound role for women in the church, but “the door is closed” to ordaining women to the priesthood:[27] Women Cardinals have also been ruled out though a Cardinal does not need to be an ordained priest. Francis said, "Women in the Church must be valued not ‘clericalised’". [28]

The look and feel of the papacy may be changing under Francis, but the fundamental understanding magisterium's authority and the requirement that the women obey the men … will continue to stay the same.
—Jamie Manson[29]

Erin Saiz Hanna of the Women's Ordination Conference notes that Francis selects precedents he personally likes and ignores those he dislikes. John Paul II is taken as authoritative over female ordination because JP was against women priests, while Benedict XVI's refusal to accept gay priests is disregarded:

[Francis] could have quoted the Vatican's own the Pontifical Biblical Commission that concluded in 1976 that there is no valid scriptural or theological reason for denying ordination to women.
[30]

The LCWR situation has not changed under Francis, who demands that they accept the authority of the male Magisterium.[29] In 2014 the LCWR planned honoring feminist theologian Elizabeth Johnson at their annual conference. It was decided LCWR conference programs will in future need Vatican approval and Francis did nothing to prevent this. [31] People are questioning how far Francis actually will modernise the Roman Catholic Church. [32]

[edit] Child abuse

As Pope, Francis is head of an organization mired in a massive child abuse scandal. The Catholic Church in Latin America has been slower than North America and Europe to face its problems in this area, perhaps because of its close relationship with the state (until 1994, only Catholics could become president in Argentina), Francis, some time after the Grassi affair, took a more proactive role than many of his fellow cardinals, and ordered his bishops to report all abuse allegations to the police.

Soon after assuming the papacy, Francis ordered Vatican officials in charge of dealing with abusive clergy to "act decisively as far as cases of sexual abuse are concerned, promoting, above all, measures to protect minors, help for those who have suffered such violence in the past (and) the necessary procedures against those who are guilty"[33] and stated further that the credibility of the Roman Catholic Church was at risk. A leading sex abuse survivors' group has responded with skepticism, saying "actions speak louder than words."[33]

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. David Batty, et al. Cardinal Bergoglio elected Pope Francis after two days of conclave - live, The Guardian. 2013 March 13.
  2. Pope named after Francis of Assisi heralded by gull atop Sistine chimney, The Guardian, 2013 March 13
  3. [1]
  4. [2]
  5. David Batty, et al. Cardinal Bergoglio elected Pope Francis after two days of conclave - live, The Guardian. 2013 March 13.
  6. Pope Francis shuns grand apartment for two rooms
  7. Pope Francis' first moves hint at break with past
  8. Pope Francis: Church too focused on gays and abortion, BBC
  9. Pope Francis: has his revolution even started?
  10. ‘FOBs’ driving the train under Pope Francis
  11. Pope Francis' View on Contraception Could Impact AIDS Work
  12. Tim Padgett. The Vatican and Women: Casting the First Stone, Time. 2010 July 19.
  13. Pope Francis Supported Civil Unions as Cardinal
  14. Pope Francis 'shocked' by gay adoption says Bishop of Malta
  15. Pope Francis wants 'poor Church for the poor'
  16. Pope Francis in plea for poor as inauguration Mass held
  17. Society Of St. Pius X (SSPX) Criticizes Pope Francis
  18. Pope Francis claims global economy is close to collapse and describes youth unemployment rates as an ‘atrocity’
  19. Pope Francis hits out at global 'cult of money'
  20. Squires, Nick (18 May 2013). Pope blames tyranny of capitalism for making people miserable
  21. Pope Francis attacks 'cult of money' in reform call
  22. Pope Francis says atheists can be ‘allies’ for the church
  23. What's wrong with a little harmless paedo podophilia?
  24. Pope Francis: papal feet washing sparks fears over women priests
  25. With New Pope, Catholic Women Hope To Regain Church Leadership Roles
  26. Pope Francis Stresses "Fundamental" Importance Of Women In Church
  27. http://articles.washingtonpost.com/2013-07-29/world/40859027_1_pope-francis-vatican-bureaucracy-monsignor-nunzio-scarano
  28. I won’t create female cardinals, says Pope FrancisPope Francis: There Will Be No Women Cardinals
  29. 29.0 29.1 For LCWR, the more the papacy changes, the more it stays the same
  30. Pope Francis slams door on women's ordination
  31. Vatican crackdown on U.S. nuns echoes of a modern day witch hunt
  32. It’s time to judge Pope Francis
  33. 33.0 33.1 Pope Francis calls for action on clerical sex abuse
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