Religion

Habemus Papam: Pope Francisco

Today I found out that I’m Skepchick’s designated Catholic, which is totally weird since I know next to nothing about Catholicism. My religious education consisted of a total of 6 hours of catechism at age 11, so I have no Super Secret Catholic inside knowledge to share with you. But I am able to read Spanish, so I can dig a little bit more dirt on the new Pope.

As you’ve probably heard, Pope Francis is an austere man, likes to ride the bus, lived in a small apartment and cooked his meals by himself. He told Argentinians not to go to Rome to celebrate and give the money to the poor instead. Also, he’s a Jesuit, which is an order known for being intellectual and for their involvement on education. He trained as a chemist, taught literature, psychology, philosophy and theology before becoming bishop. So this is good right? Certainly a step up from Hitler-Youth Pope, right? Well…

Back in the 1970’s when Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, was the head of the Argentine Society of Jesus (Jesuits), the dictatorship under Jorge Rafael Videla was torturing, kidnapping and killing up to 30,000 people. The church endorsed the regime, although not all priests followed orders. In 2010, Bergoglio had to testify in two cases of victims of the dictatorship that involved him directly.

The first case involved two Jesuits who were working with people at the slums. Bergoglio withdrew their religious license and the very next day they were both kidnapped and tortured. The two priests always suspected Bergoglio of giving them away. One of the priests recalls one of his torturers saying they knew they were not with the guerilla, but that working in the slums united the poor, and that was subversive.

The other case is about babies stolen from kidnapped mothers to be given to families supporting the dictatorship. Bergoglio claims he had no knowledge of this prior to 1985, but a family produced written evidence that he was involved in the case of Monica Mignone:

Bergoglio also was accused of turning his back on a family that lost five relatives to state terror, including a young woman who was 5-months’ pregnant before she was kidnapped and killed in 1977. The De la Cuadra family appealed to the leader of the Jesuits in Rome, who urged Bergoglio to help them; Bergoglio then assigned a monsignor to the case. Months passed before the monsignor came back with a written note from a colonel: It revealed that the woman had given birth in captivity to a girl who was given to a family “too important” for the adoption to be reversed.

As you may suspect, Pope Francis also opposes gay marriage and adoption, which he thinks is discrimination against children because it deprives them of a mother and a father. He’s described as a conservative, and is claimed to have been the runner up last time around the Conclave. But, to be honest, what worries me more about the new pope is that he’s Pope Francisco, which will probably lead to a spike in Catholic fervor in Spain and Latin America. And that’s the last thing we need.

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Daniela

Born and raised in Mexico City, Daniela has finally decided to abdicate her post as an armchair skeptic and start doing some skeptical activism. She is currently living in Spain after having lived in the US, Brazil and Italy. You can also find her blogging in Spanish at esceptica.org.

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16 Comments

  1. My first thought when I heard he’d been chosen was “what did he do during the dictatorship?” – after all, I doubt many priests who opposed the dictatorships in Latin American countries rose high enough in the hierarchy to be candidates for Pope. I know the ones who did here in Brazil either all left the Church or were expelled from it. That Latin Americans will probably proudly embrace him is just sickening.

  2. I am Latin American and Live there. Yeah… People are focusing on him being Argentinian and how he chose a new name.
    I am 100% sure this was a calculated move to recover political ground in Latin America.

        1. Sadly, the mother was killed.
          The mothers of the Plaza de Mayo is an organization originally set up to try to find the people who “disappeared”, and fight to get justice for them. The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo was set up specifically to find the stolen children and given to families loyal to the regime, and I know the mother’s family is involved with this organization.

          1. But thankfully the kid is a grown up now and can’t be ripped from the only family they have ever known. Do we know at all which families knew they where stealing children, or is this a buyer be ware deal?

  3. Well, I guess it isn’t surprising, that there is questionable or outright wrong behavior in the guy’s past. As the reporting before the Conclave showed, it’s par for the course for most of the cardinals.

  4. I am Argentinian I was in Argentina during the military dictatorship. I know what is happening today with the very left government we have. The Pope supports the opposition to the current Argentinian government, meanly because of corruption which increase poverty and that is a thing Argentinian government can not deny. Because of that, he was blamed for tolerance and even complicity with the military. You can review the Argentinian Nobel Prize opinion , Perez Esquivel, who really stand against the military. He said all those accusation are fake accusation. The mothers of Plaza de Mayo are not any more a group of mothers claiming for theirs sons, they are political organizations and corrupted like the goverment.. All the blames towards Francisco are coming from the actual government they do not like him.

    1. I understand that the accusations by the two priests were made before Cristina Fernandez or her husband came into power, but I can’t find a timeline. In any case, there’s evidence that he lied about knowing that babies were being kidnapped. He claims he secretly protected dissidents, but even he admits to not openly opposing Videla, for which he apologized. So, although the current government has a terrible relationship with him, we know they’re not making that part up.

  5. Seems like a prudent political move on the part of the Vatican to appoint (elect? Don’t make me LoL) a Latino pope. Considering most modern western, educated Catholics seem to pretty much ignore the apparently non-negotiable proscriptions against premarital or recreational sex and contraception and that the western church is haemhorraging members, it makes perfect sense to appoint someone from a highly-populated and less-affluent region where Catholic dogma is still taken seriously. It also makes sense that they’d appoint an apparent fascist collaborator from the 1970s; after all, they signed a deal with Mussolini in 1929 which established the Vat as a pseudo-nation and then cuddled up to the Nazis in 1933.

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