Bronze-level articlePope Francis

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"It seems that my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world to get [me]."[1]
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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.[1]

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.


[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.[2]

[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. [3]

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.[4]

As pope, Francis has rejected luxurious papal apartments, choosing instead a small two-room suite customarily regarded as suitable for visiting cardinals.[5] Francis also toned down the ostentation of his robes,[6] 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[7]
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 [8]
He says wonderful things but he doesn’t put them together all the time, so you’re left at times puzzling over what his intention is. What he says is clear enough, but what does he want us to do?
—Cardinal Francis George formerly of Chicago [9]
His [Pope Francis] is a decidedly different persona from his immediate predecessors. His tone is deeply pastoral, kind, and merciful. But that is all it is: tone. Nothing has changed in terms of the teaching and policies of his Church.
—Former Epispocal Bishop, Gene Robinson [10]
This is a balancing act. They have to hold together two increasingly divergent constituencies. The church has lost its ability to dictate what people do. Right now, the less-developed world is staying true to the old world values, but it’s gradually eroding even there. [Pope Francis] doesn’t want to lose the legitimacy of the more educated people.
—Ronald Inglehart writing in the Washington Post [11]

Ordinary observers may be unsure what change Francis is bringing to the Roman Catholic Church and bishops are also unclear. Areas of where change is discussed include allowing the Eucharist for remarried divorcees, same sex partnerships, unmarried couples living together, even polygamy (...cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria!).[12]

Although Pope Francis is (or at least, is seen as) more liberal than his predecessor, he brings a mixed bag of social positions. Real significant change in the Roman Catholic Church is possible but by no means certain.[10] Francis has faced criticism within and outside the Roman Catholic Church from conservatives for being too progressive and from progressives for being too conservative.[13] Pope Francis is significantly swayed by his influential friends.[14] 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.[15] 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."[16] Francis espoused the idea of civil unions as a "compromise".[17]

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.[18] Child welfare is allegedly the highest priority but the hurt to gay children and to children with gay parents when gays are branded “intrinsically disordered” is disregarded.[10]

In a case where Bergoglio may have been sorry that he spoke impromptu, he said in the Philippines that good Catholics did not have to "breed like rabbits" and instead implied that they could breed like gambling rabbits by playing Vatican roulette.[19]

[edit] On capitalism and poverty

Francis is a solid supporter of social justice programs, stating publicly he wants "a poor Church, for the poor".[20] His policies on treatment of the poor are much-more socially minded than those of his precedessors. He has ties with liberation theology[21] though he formerly opposed the movement.[22] 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."[23]

Pope Francis urged world leaders to prevent excessive respect for money, and claims human beings are sacrificed to the idol of money.[24] Francis further urged world leaders to help poor people more.[25] 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.[26][27]

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. [28]

Atheist views on the Pope Francis vary from cynicism over excessive hype or complete indifference through to hopes that he can have a positive influence on his church.

[edit] Science

Francis believes that God did evolution; Francis also believes God did the Big Bang.[29] God did both and more: this is consistent with Roman Catholic teaching on science but Ken Ham, Michael T. Snyder and other creationists strongly disagree.[30] Francis claims science has its own 'autonomy' but should keep away from the 'transcendent'. [31]

[edit] The role of women

A few initial moves, notably washing the feet of women on Maundy Thursday 2013, suggested possible openness over the relationship between women and the Catholic Church.[32] This made Church members anxious that Francis may intend to allow the ordination of women, although Francis has indicated that he would oppose that.[33] Leading female Roman Catholics such as scholar Carolyn Osiek hoped Francis would allow women some religious leadership,[34] as he has also stated that women play an important role in the Church and that the Church was wrong to downplay that role.[35] For Francis, without women the Church "would be missing maternity, affection, tenderness." While that reflects the 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.[36] 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’". [37]

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[38]

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.

The LCWR situation has not changed under Francis, who demands that they accept the authority of the male Magisterium.[38] 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. [40] People are questioning how far Francis actually will modernise the Roman Catholic Church. [41]

[edit] Abortion and euthanasia

Francis believes abortion and euthanasia are both sinful. [42]

[edit] Exorcism

He is strongly in favour of the practice of exorcism.[43] [44] Seriously, he is.

[edit] Cardinals

Francis has chosen several new cardinals, most of whom are from the Third World. This reflects the shifting demographics of the Church, as most believers now live outside of the industrialized nations.[45][46]

[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, sometime 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"[47] 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."[47]

[edit] Conspiracy Theorists

Conspiracy theorists are usually divided on Francis's role in their investigations. One side believes he's the false prophet in Revelation for the Antichrist, Barack Obama, and will therefore establish a National Sunday law. Others will say he's the Antichrist outright. It's not like any previous popes were accused of this but no previous pope could be accused of being Petrus Romanus.

[edit] See also

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Pope named after Francis of Assisi heralded by gull atop Sistine chimney, The Guardian, 2013 March 13
  2. [1]
  3. [2]
  4. David Batty, et al. Cardinal Bergoglio elected Pope Francis after two days of conclave - live, The Guardian. 2013 March 13.
  5. Pope Francis shuns grand apartment for two rooms
  6. Pope Francis' first moves hint at break with past
  7. Pope Francis: Church too focused on gays and abortion, BBC
  8. Pope Francis: has his revolution even started?
  9. Pope Francis: Epic Innovator
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Pope Francis Pushes the Church Another Step Further on Gays
  11. Pope Francis faces church divided over doctrine, global poll of Catholics finds
  12. Change Urged by Pope Francis Is Rattling Hierarchy of Roman Catholic Church
  13. The Secret Pope Francis Haters
  14. ‘FOBs’ driving the train under Pope Francis
  15. Pope Francis' View on Contraception Could Impact AIDS Work
  16. Tim Padgett. The Vatican and Women: Casting the First Stone, Time. 2010 July 19.
  17. Pope Francis Supported Civil Unions as Cardinal
  18. Pope Francis 'shocked' by gay adoption says Bishop of Malta
  19. Pope change his mind on breeding "like rabbits"?
  20. Pope Francis wants 'poor Church for the poor'
  21. CDF head: 'Pope Francis has close ties with liberation theology'
  22. Pope Francis in plea for poor as inauguration Mass held
  23. Society Of St. Pius X (SSPX) Criticizes Pope Francis
  24. Pope Francis claims global economy is close to collapse and describes youth unemployment rates as an ‘atrocity’
  25. Pope Francis hits out at global 'cult of money'
  26. Squires, Nick (18 May 2013). Pope blames tyranny of capitalism for making people miserable
  27. Pope Francis attacks 'cult of money' in reform call
  28. Pope Francis says atheists can be ‘allies’ for the church
  29. Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are right and God isn't 'a magician with a magic wand'
  30. Creationists Criticise Pope Francis’ Backing Of Big Bang And Evolution Theories
  31. Must Read Quotes
  32. What's wrong with a little harmless paedopodophilia?
  33. Pope Francis: papal feet washing sparks fears over women priests
  34. With New Pope, Catholic Women Hope To Regain Church Leadership Roles
  35. Pope Francis Stresses "Fundamental" Importance Of Women In Church
  37. I won’t create female cardinals, says Pope FrancisPope Francis: There Will Be No Women Cardinals
  38. 38.0 38.1 For LCWR, the more the papacy changes, the more it stays the same
  39. Pope Francis slams door on women's ordination
  40. Vatican crackdown on U.S. nuns echoes of a modern day witch hunt
  41. It’s time to judge Pope Francis
  42. Pope denounces euthanasia as 'sin against God and creation'
  43. Pope Francis makes exorcisms official Catholic practice
  44. Vatican gives official backing to exorcists
  45. Francis Looks to the Developing World in Appointing New Cardinals
  46. Pope Francis is poised to change Catholicism forever
  47. 47.0 47.1 Pope Francis calls for action on clerical sex abuse
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