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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pope Francis

After Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to be the 266th Roman Catholic Pope (and took the name Francis I), a San Jose Mercury News reader complained in a letter to the editor that the new Pope was an ultra conservative. While he's certainly conservative on some issues (e.g., abortion, women's ordination), he isn't on others; for instance, shortly after being elected he reminded the Church of its obligation to the poor and lamented what he called the "tyranny of the market." Hardly something a ultraconservative would say.

(In general, I think it's a good idea to recognize that just because someone is more conservative (or liberal) than you, doesn't mean that they're necessarily a conservative (or a liberal).)

Although there's a lot we don't know about Pope Francis, two recent "Research on Religion" podcasts are helpful in teasing out the recent changes in the Catholic Church. The first, featuring Jeremy Lott, who is a "news aggregator" (i.e., someone who surfs the web and identifies and provides links for the best news stories) for Real Clear Religion, explores how the media covered Pope Benedict's resignation and Francis's election ("Jeremy Lott on the Media's Pope-O-Rama"). Here's the description from the Research on Religion website:
How well did the popular media do in covering the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Conclave of Cardinals, and the election of Francis I? We talk with RealClearReligion editor Jeremy Lott who has a unique vantage point when it comes to answering this question. As a Catholic, a writer, and a news aggregator, Jeremy provides some very interesting insights into what he calls “pope-o-rama,” the media frenzy surrounding events at the Vatican over the past six months. He offers up a very prescient observation about a bear and a backpack, plus he reminds us of a few other stories that flew under the radar when all eyes were fixed on Rome.
In this discussion Lott, who is a Catholic also discusses a recent article of his, concerning what he saw as Benedict's reluctance to be Pope ("The Man Who Didn't Want to Be Pope").

The second podcast, which features University of Washing historian, James Felak, explores the nature of the papacy, Felaks thoughts on Benedict's resignation, and what Francis's election might mean for the Catholic Church ("James Felak on Picking Pontiffs and Pope Francis I"). Here's the description from the Research on Religion website:
With all eyes trained on the Vatican over the past two months, we turn to one of our most popular guests — Prof. James Felak (University of Washington) — to help us understand what popes do and how they are chosen. Prof. Felak then walks us through the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Conclave of Cardinals, and the “surprise” election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who took the name Francis I. He offers up some reflections on the potential direction of the Roman Catholic Church and reveals what name he would have chosen for himself had he been tapped to sit on the throne of St. Peter. One of our most lively discussions ever!
As always, you can download the podcasts from iTunes or listen to them at the Research on Religion website.

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