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Habemus papam!

So the world has a new pope: Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a Jesuit out of South America. He’ll be assuming the papal name of Francis I, which nicely calls humility and peace. Here’s hoping those actually are the hallmarks of his papacy.


Over at FB, Kaylee asked for the Latin version of “You can has cheezburger.” That’s one of the more fun phrases I’ve had to translate, but also one of the more challenging since they didn’t have cheeseburgers in ancient Rome. I finally settled on: Salutationes, novem praesulis! Potes habere bubula cum caseus. [Greetings, new pope! You may have beef with cheese.]


Also over at FB, Dan posted a quote from Francis I from before he was pope.

“Let’s not be naive, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

Here’s my reaction, slightly cleaned up to fix typos, which FB doesn’t allow.

This view is depressing but not altogether surprising. And he’s actually right on one thing: if you believe marriage and sex should be about procreation (as the RCC, or at least individual Catholics I know, seems to), then gay marriage is a redefinition of marriage. But it’s a redefinition most straight people my age have already made. And it’s a really good one, IMO, because it’s built on the idea that the most intimate relationship in my life isn’t built on my ability to bear children, but about something much more central to who I really am.

The Roman Catholic Church (and any other church) is free to recognize a sacrament that is unique to men and women. The separation of church and state means, among other things, that church theology is not up for majority vote or government interference. (This is bad theology IMO and bad shepherding of gay Christians, and I would really like to see churches change their approach, by recognizing and support gay monogamous couples sacramentally or some other way if they can’t manage that theologically. But that is a different issue.) But the separation of church and state also means the RCC and every other church needs to realize that people also have the right to organize other rituals and legal recognitions that afford gay couples the same rights as heterosexual ones. When the civil society chooses to let two men or two women receive a marriage license and give them all the civil benefits and honors we afford straight couples, that doesn’t change what the church says. Because, you know, church practice and theology are not defined by secular, popular vote.

On the rest of the quote, that gay marriage is a lie from the pit of hell, I can’t disagree strongly enough. But I hope that would already be obvious to anyone who knows me. :-)

It will be interesting getting to know the pope’s views on this and other issues in more depth. I am not a Catholic but I recognize the influence the church has over our culture, and I hope the next several days will see some in-depth, even critical coverage of his thought.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 13th, 2013 08:42 pm (UTC)
That quote on the alleged evils of gay marriage was also one of the first things that came up when I googled the name of the new pope.

On the one hand, I find it depressing. On the other hand, it will be a long way to go until the hierarchy of the Catholic Church would elect someone with a different stance to the papacy. This is a change that won't come from the top (the conclave of cardinals), but from the bottom.

At least, he seems to have a good reputation on issues like economic inequality and help for the poor. So, that's a definite plus.
Mar. 13th, 2013 08:50 pm (UTC)
I agree. I do wish they would find someone with a slightly less out-of-touch approach to homosexuality, but like you I wasn't all that surprise on that front. This is the same church for whom condoms as a way to prevent AIDS is still controversial. Sexuality is not a place I look for a pope who shares my views.

Economic justice and poverty *is* an area I can work with many in the church, so it's good to hear encouraging things on that front.
Mar. 13th, 2013 09:01 pm (UTC)
Well, the Wikipedia article claims that he at least implied in the past that contraception could help to prevent spreading diseases, so that might be progress.

Unfortunately, the Wiki entry also mentions accusations of him turning a blind eye to human rights violations during Argentina's military dictatorship. :(((
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 14th, 2013 12:03 am (UTC)
I agree with you on all this, especially the bit about the dictatorship. In a political situation like that, there are often degrees of good moral behavior, and I think of the way the papacy dealt with Hitler while many priests and even those higher up the ladder resisted him. I will be looking forward to hearing more on that.
Mar. 13th, 2013 10:17 pm (UTC)
I think that the Catholic church's stance on sex (whether gay rights or contraception or women's rights or even divorce) is still decades away from a change; perhaps when the priests who are in their twenties now become cardinals and are able to vote on the next papacy (or the one after that).

He does have an excellent reputation in standing up for the poor.

Most telling to me: his choice of name; if he's planning to model himself after Francis of Assisi the church hierarchy is in for a bumpy ride.
Mar. 14th, 2013 12:15 am (UTC)
There is a lot I find encouraging. His name, the poverty issue, things like that. And you are right about the Catholic Church being notoriously slow to change. I think given those constraints, he's a surprisingly encouraging choice.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 14th, 2013 01:32 am (UTC)
If you haven't noticed, we Americans are an impatient bunch. Even in thoroughly non-Catholic circles we have been speculating wildly since the announcement of Benedict's resignation was stepping down. It's funny - we want the information now, but when it finally becomes available we've almost always moved on to the newest exciting thing.

In all seriousness, I am trying to be patient. And I will be keeping an eye out over the coming weeks. That quote has been coming up in more than one place today, so it seemed worth addressing the idea expressed while it was "hot." But really, I'm not mistaking that quote for a full representation of his thought.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )



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