13 March 2013

New pope is ultraconservative

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss?

Today, a new pope was selected - 76-year-old former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina. He will be called Pope Francis (the first).

Those who may have been hoping for a relatively progressive pope will likely be disappointed. According to CNN, Pope Francis is "a follower of the church's most conservative wing" and "has clashed with the government of [Argentina's] President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over his opposition to gay marriage and free distribution of contraceptives." And, according to the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), he described adoption by same-sex couples as "a form of discrimination against children."

But he also has his good points. NCR described the new pope's apparent humility: "Bergoglio's reputation for personal simplicity also exercised an undeniable appeal - a Prince of the Church who chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop's palace, who gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work, and who cooked his own meals." He apparently is also into social justice, and is an advocate for the poor and for victims of HIV/AIDS (as long as they don't wear condoms!).

In his new role, probably his biggest challenge will be in dealing with the Church's ongoing sex abuse scandal. I hope he can do a better job of it than his predecessor.

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