Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio Elected Pope: What Does It Mean For The Catholic Church?

Habemus Papem! While virtually all the papabili who went into conclave as potential popes came out as cardinals, one minor candidate — Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires — has become the newest leader of the 2,000-year-old Catholic Church.

The next Catholic leader: once Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I

Bergoglio wasn’t on the radar for plenty of conclave-watchers, and maybe he should have been. He was seen as a serious contender (and rumored runner-up) during the conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger. But at age 76, many figured he was too old for the job (especially following the resignation of an aged, worn-out Pope pleading ill health) and too weak-willed to govern the Church effectively. Most dismissed him as a has-been, a man past his prime who’d already had his chance.

Considered a moderate with the potential to bridge the divide between progressive and conservative church factions, Bergoglio seems to signal a push for renewal in Catholicism. He is the first-ever Latin-American pontiff — indeed, the first non-European in centuries — and the first Jesuit priest to ascend to the Chair of St. Peter. Both facts could be significant. The Jesuit order is known for its missionary zeal, charitable works, and intellectual activity on theological matters, and the concerns of Latin American Church leaders often differ considerably from those of European and North American prelates. When it comes to Catholic social justice, Bergoglio is used to focusing on economic inequality, not sexual politics.

He further indicated his search for a new direction by selecting a name no pontiff has ever used before: Francis, after the popular Saint Francis of Assisi. The name fits. Bergoglio is known amongst the cardinals as a compassionate figure who eschews the fancier perks of his office: he gave up the archbishop’s palace to live in a simple apartment in Buenos Aires, and he traded in the archbishops’ limo for a bus pass.

These are all promising signs for the Vatican-watchers who wonder how the Curia can live in such opulence while children starve or who harbor concerns about the Vatican’s financial management.

To those hoping to see the Church revisit questions of sexual morality, Bergoglio is a much more disappointing candidate.

He remains staunchly conservative on issues like abortion, contraception, and homosexuality. He’s known for speaking harshly against Argentine pro-gay-marriage legislation by calling gay marriage “a destructive pretension against the plan of God” and “a machination of the Father of Lies.” Though disappointing to many, it’s hardly surprising, given that all the candidates were selected by either Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI, both deeply conservative on sexual morality.

Still, there’s promise in the election of a pontiff who blends intellectual and pastoral concerns and generally discourages involving the Church in secular politics. His election signals the cardinals’ recognition that the Church has become mired in divisive politics and their desire to refocus the Church on individual spirituality and common-ground issues like poverty and economic equality. It may also provide an opportunity to increase the Church’s relevance to alienated believers while reducing Catholicism’s intrusions into the political sphere.

It’s a strategic choice for an institution battered by controversy under the papacy of Benedict XVI. Bergoglio’s first challenge will be to compassionately address the wounds caused by institutionalized sexual abuse so he and his Church can move forward on the issues close to his heart.

You don’t have to be a believer to hope he’s able to make it better.

About Sara Lin Wilde

Sara Lin Wilde is a recovering Catholic (and cat-holic, for that matter - all typographical errors are the responsibility of her feline friends). She lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she is working on writing a novel that she really, really hopes can actually get published.

  • MrsDaveG

    I’m not sure where you got the information that he chose his name from St. Francis of Assisi. He chose his name from St. Francis Xavier, a prominent Jesuit. St. Francis of Assisi was, you know, a Franciscan.

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    “Bergoglio is used to focusing on economic inequality, not sexual politics.”

    Does this mean he will be selling the billions of dollars worth of art, artifacts, and other lavish Vatican possessions in order to give the money to the poor, and live his life in keeping with his priestly vow of poverty?

  • Hemant Mehta

    Not according to Vatican spokesperson:

    “The new pope took the name Francis in honor of St. Francis of Assisi because he is a lover of the poor, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Tom Rosica told CNN.”

  • Kengi

    Awesome! The clip from Stripes with Sgt. Hulka saying “Lighten up, Francis” will now make a deserved resurgence. The downside is I’ll probably get tired of it after the first 847 stupid things Francis says sometime in the next couple of weeks…

  • Max Bingman

    “He’s known for speaking harshly against Argentine pro-gay-marriage legislation by calling gay marriage “a destructive pretension against the plan of God” and “a machination of the Father of Lies.” ”
    He’s a bigot. I say this because he clearly has expressed bigoted opinions. Why can’t anyone in the media just come right out and say it?

  • m6wg4bxw

    Duos habet et bene pendentes!

  • MrsDaveG

    I stand corrected :)

  • Rovin’ Rockhound

    Moderate? Promising sign?? Maybe he’s less awful than the rest of the candidates in some aspects, but this guy has an actual record of violating human rights. There’s no “but eeeeeveryone had to be in the Hitler youth!” excuse for this bastard.

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  • rhodent

    I can’t quite say I’m disappointed about his stance on sexuality (i.e., homosexuality, contraception, abortion rights)…not because I agree with his stance (I don’t), but because saying I was disappointed would imply I thought anyone with a different opinion would have a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming pope. Given how conservative — in the non-political sense of “slow to accept change” — the Catholic Church is, that just wasn’t going to happen. To me, the real test of whether he’s a good choice or not will be how he addresses the child-molestation scandals within the Church.

  • m6wg4bxw

    “[…] but everybody calls me ‘Psycho.’”

  • Anna

    He is the first-ever Latin-American pontiff — indeed, the first non-European in centuries

    True, although it would have been more interesting if they had chosen a non-white Pope. Bergoglio does have quite a strong European connection. His father was born in Italy, and his mother’s last name also looks to be Italian. This isn’t exactly a Pope who represents the majority of people in the developing world.

  • Hunter

    Great post Sara, even though I think you were too objective compared to the usual posts that are seen on this site. People here just want to get angry at something.

  • LesterBallard

    Moderate. Good news. Like hearing “you only have cancer of the lungs and bowels, not lungs and bowels and liver”.

  • LesterBallard

    Moderate. Good news. Like hearing “you only have cancer of the lungs and bowels, not lungs and bowels and liver”.

  • Kengi

    The vote was rigged!

    Bergoglio was the 33-1 long shot. The Catholic Church placed lots of bets, then pushed the long shot through as a way to make a quick buck.

  • LesterBallard

    A lover of the poor. So he’ll be selling the throne of gold and all that other shit.

  • Rich Wilson

    According to IFLS he has a M.Sc. in Chemistry. For whatever that’s worth.

  • Anna

    I would guess it’s because society at large seems to think that being a member of the clergy automatically confers special respect. I think it’s worse with Catholics. Their clergy seems to get more deference than people like Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell.

  • Max Bingman

    Yeah, that Vatican isn’t too far off on science. I’ll say that for them at least. They aren’t Southern Baptists. They seemed to have learned their lesson after Galileo.

  • Anna

    There’s the famous bumper sticker: “If you’re not angry, you’re not paying attention.”

    But seriously, I don’t think this guy is surprising enough for anger. Even his horrific comments about gay people seem par for the course. Ratzinger said the exact same things. Anyone who didn’t expect this kind of social conservatism hasn’t been paying attention.

  • blasphemous_kansan

    For anyone wanting to learn more about the Argentinian Church in this century, it looks like ‘El Silencio” by Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky will be a good read about the Church’s relationship with the brutal dictatorship of the 70′s

    I’m especially interested in the allegations that the new pontiff conspired with the navy to hide political prisoners from a visiting international human rights delegation, and that the place chosen for hiding was Bergoglio’s own holiday home!
    Further reading is obviously needed, but obviously damming if true. You’d think that after the last guy they would try to steer the office away from association with brutal dictatorships?

    I’m having trouble posting links on this site currently it seems (the comments never seem to finish posting), but you should go to the website for The Guardian and search for an article called “The Sins of the Argentinian Church” written on Jan 4, 2011. Crazy stuff.

  • CallMeSAM

    The election of Papa Frank strikes me as a move to fool a lot of Latin American Catholics into returning to the status quo. There have also been a number of efforts on the Vatican’s part to purge progressives from their ranks in Latin America and this would give the Vatican a lot of leverage if they continue to weed them out.

  • Dangerous Talk

    Pope Francis I: An atheist’s first impressions –

  • TheBlackCat13

    So what is his stance on sexual abuse?

  • Buckley

    In the end I don’t care what the position of the church is on things like gay marriage, I know that as a religion they are against it. What I want is for them to stay out of secular politics and keep out of what non believers want to do with their life.

  • PsiCop

    I’m surprised anyone is expressing any hope that Pope Francis will “change” anything about the R.C. Church. Why would he? How could he, even if he wanted to? Let’s be honest: The Church is a vast juggernaut which largely governs itself and does what it wants to as an institution. The days when a strong, assertive hierarch could get himself elected Pope and then wrench it in whatever direction he wished it to go, are long gone. Sure, the Vatican is the Church’s “core” and a lot of things go in and out of it; but when all is said and done, it’s the bishops who, collectively … and always with their eyes on centuries of “tradition” … set the Church’s policies.

    The last time any Pope ever pushed the Church in a direction it didn’t willingly want to go was, arguably, John XXIII, who he convened II Lateran. And that Council did change quite a few things about the Church. But a lot of them were more cosmetic than anything … IOW, more bark than bite. So really, how much change did John XXIII impose on the Church? Ultimately not a whole heckuva lot.

    About the only positive aspect of this is the new Pope’s choice of name, reflecting St Francis of Assisi. He could have chosen worse namesakes. Unlike a lot of folks, though, I don’t assume it will be a harbinger of any meaningful change. We’re likely just to get more of what we’ve been getting from Popes since the latter half of Paul VI’s reign.

  • blasphemous_kansan

    “People just want to get angry at something.”

    Fixed it for ya.

  • C Peterson

    Yeah… 400 years after Galileo!

  • C Peterson

    Well, as a Jesuit, you might think “missionary”, but I’d have to go with the old favorite of priests, “doggy style”.

  • allein

    Thanks! The news said he was a “scientist and a theologian” and I was wondering what kind of scientist. The little I read about him earlier in the day didn’t mention that.

  • kneeler4u

    This article is simple flattery! This guy of Italian ancestry is another Cardinal who is anti-woman, anti-gay and anti-human rights. He belongs to the past, not the future.

  • Bob Geier

    “An actual record of violating human rights”. Do you believe in creationism too?

    The last time I checked, “an actual record” actually required, you know, an actual record.

  • Bob Geier

    Ah, and here we have a climate change denier. Let’s go out and find the most ridiculous, preposterous “facts” we can that support our viewpoint, and ignore everything else. Like, say, the millions of Argentinians dancing in the streets because they think so highly of this man.

    It is true, the Church in Latin America has at times been silent about the abuses of dictators. It’s hard to speak up when someone has placed a tank in your front yard pointed at your window. The Jesuits in Latin America, however, were at the forefront of the Liberation Theology movement. That’s like Occupy Wall Street, times 100, in a place where the police don’t pepper spray you, they dismember you.

  • Bob Geier

    Do you think it would be better for the works of Michelangelo to be locked up in a private collector’s vault or maintained in a church open for free or a token admittance to everyone?

  • Bob Geier

    The man gave up all of his own possessions for 30 years to work with the poor in what at the time was a poor, despotic third world country. That seems a fair bit better than us fat, lazy Americans who want to cut services to the poor in order to finance tax breaks for the top 1%. Let’s give the man at least a bit of a break.

  • Feminerd

    Well, two of the priests in his order were kidnapped and held for months during the military dictatorship. One of them claims Bergoglio denounced them, which is what caused them to be arrested in the first place. I don’t know what happened- the Internet isn’t being forthcoming about this possibility. But it’s definitely not something to just … dismiss, given that it’s clearly not just hot air. I’d rather investigate and see if it’s true or not, wouldn’t you?

  • LesterBallard

    What possessions?

  • GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Answer = Public museums, private museums, and private collections.

    what about the countless beautiful works of art that are locked up in
    private collections within the Vatican itself, where they are seen by no
    one other than mostly old white man who have hypocritically supposedly
    taken vows of poverty, while they live in a palace?

  • Robster

    These pope types all have that ‘deer in the headlights” look about them. Is the newly popped pope real or a puppet?

  • jl

    Sarah, teach your feline friends that the Latin expression is ‘Habemus Papam’, no Papem. They start to seem to me like that journalist that translated ‘extra omnes’ as ‘all men outside’, when reporting the conclave, instead of ‘everybody outside’. Ignorance/laziness among some people regarding Catholicism seems just incurable. On the other hand, was somebody really expecting that a Catholic pope will change the teachings on moral issues.? C’mon. We follow our own pace, not the pace of the media nor the politically correctness fad.

  • TheBlackCat13

    Yeah, I’m sure equal rights is just a fad.

  • RedGreenInBlue

    Makes note to accuse JL of “incurable ignorance” of a religious or cultural tradition if ever he/she makes a minor grammatical error in Arabic, Persian, Sanskrit, etc.

    In any case, isn’t “Extra omnes” itself poor Latin? Wouldn’t “Exite, omnes” be more correct for an order for everyone to leave?

  • blasphemous_kansan

    I don’t know what your beef is. Did I offend you with my inflammatory rhetoric like “Further reading is obviously needed,”? I don’t know whether any of this is true, and this is not some hidden information. I like the Guardian. I went there and looked for his name, and this article seems relevant. Unless you can point out some specific criticism? I thought my comment made it obvious that I’m interested in all viewpoints regarding this matter. If you have a substantive one to offer, I’d be glad to hear it.

    I don’t dispute anything you said in your second paragraph. What does it have to do with my comment, though? And climate change? Thanks for telling me what my viewpoints are, though. That’s always fun.

    All I said was “hey this is interesting, I’ll be buying this dude’s book and learning more”. Maybe you should as well.

  • Blacksheep

    No, it’s mainly here. And that’s an objective opinion from someone who while a Christian very much appreciates and appreciates engaging in this forum. Check out some of the Christian blogs on Patheos – people are mainly speaking about THEIR faith, and contemplating, questioning, debating, etc. They are not posting stories about atheists and spending hours and hours getting angry at what others believe. Sure, you’ll find a little bit – but percentage wise, it pales in comparison.

  • Bob Geier

    I was suggesting that the dude’s book is one with an agenda. Like picking up a book on climate change by a prominent Tea Party member. Better to look at the statements and documents of the people who did the actual investigation into the matter.

  • MD

    That the new Pope gave up a lot of the frills of his office is true. But Argentina until quite recently was anything but poor.

  • Bob Geier

    I’m not sure I understood that answer. The church maintains many museums. It has preserved those treasures through many wars when government collections were sold or destroyed, and private collections lost.

    Why is this a bad thing?

    No museum displays all of its works. The Smithsonian has hundreds of acres of warehouses where beautiful works of art and other interesting treasures are locked up and preserved. You can ask for access to those, just as you can ask for access to any of the Vatican’s collections.

    Should the U.S. government sell all of those to private collectors to pay for a few months of added funding for Medicaid?

  • PhiloKGB

    Does the church not have a greater responsibility — self-claimed I might add — to people than to objects?

  • PhiloKGB

    I’m sure you’ve done due diligence in data collection, too. Although I’m considering forming an “objective opinion” that you haven’t.

  • blasphemous_kansan

    As I said before, I plan on looking at all sides of the issue. As to your assertion that this book will have an agenda, well, of course it probably does. I think that every book ever written ever has had an agenda. What matters is the quality of the evidence presented there, which seems to be something that we are both ignorant of at this time. Why automatically assume, with no evidence, that this book is analogous to a tea partier’s book on climate change?

    Thanks for your suggestions for further reading. Next time try leading with those, and don’t let the attack dogs out of the gate right away.

  • Bob Geier

    Why automatically assume that I haven’t read the book? I have. You led your initial comment with a recommendation for a book that you apparently have not read. Your recommendation continued with a set of allegations that you apparently found titillating/”especially interesting”, because they were consonant with your existing bias.

    That is what climate science deniers do. They go looking for “facts” that fit their theories, without any skeptical filter.

    I might suggest as a more rational approach beginning with the person’s available biography, and then a general history of Argentina of the period. Then proceed to Esquivel’s really groundbreaking work, and the proceedings of the related trials. Background reading on the Latin American Jesuits and Liberation Theology would also be very helpful, particularly the seminal works by Gutierrez.

  • Bob Geier

    Is preserving art, history, literature, books, and learning not a form of service to people? Do you feel that librarians and museum directors and those who create art and literature care more about objects than people? After all, instead of painting or writing or preserving learning they could sell all that and be out working with the poor.

  • abb3w

    Possibly they might trade in a lot of the gold chalices for some more humble mass-produced glass, though. Or maybe splurge for stainless steel, if it provides long-term savings via reduced breakage costs.

  • PhiloKGB

    Are all people-services created equal? I have my doubts.

  • Anna

    Why do people keep accusing us of being angry? I haven’t seen anyone here who’s angry. No one’s even surprised. I mean, there’s nothing shocking about Bergoglio’s views. They’re exactly what everyone was expecting.

    As for the content on the blog in general, there are lots of positive posts. When there are negative posts, it’s because religious people or organizations have (yet again) used their religion in some sort of harmful way. If they didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have a need to criticize them.

    Discussion of atheism really only exists in relation to religion. It’s not a belief system like Christianity. The label “atheist” is only relevant because there exists an opposite label of “theist,” and people who fit that label use their theism to influence the world around them.

  • LesterBallard

    Yo! What possessions?

  • Claude

    So reports that Bergoglio was unsympathetic to Liberation Theology are inaccurate?

  • Claude

    He could have lived in a palace and been chauffeured around in a limo. Instead he chose to live in a modest apartment and take the bus.

  • LesterBallard

    I live in a modest apartment and take the bus. Plus, I work fifty hours a week, sometimes more, to afford those things. And that’s actual work, not denying others basic human rights and taking money from the gullible.

  • Claude

    Has your employer offered you a palace and a limo?

  • LesterBallard

    Yes, that’s such a fine question. Churches, religions, they son’t want to end or alleviate poverty and suffering. If they did, they’d be out of business.

  • Claude

    So you didn’t have a palace and limo on offer that you declined so you could live humbly and work with the poor because you thought it was the right thing to do? I didn’t think so.

    Pope Francis has some appalling views but credit where credit is due.

  • Crewman87

    So let me get this straight, you are not a bigot for expressing open animosity for Pope Francis without actually making an argument? Or perhaps you fail to see how how you are attempting to impose your pro-gay ideology on “non-believers”, namely in this case, Catholics. Of course, you (or somebody) will respond (in a way particular to the bigots whom you seem to despise) with some harsh ad-hominem (generally involving some mention of the Dark Ages, or pedophile clergy) regarding myself and other Catholics, and then proceed to state how it is simply obvious that there is nothing harmful or destructive about the homosexual lifestyle, and that anyone who thinks otherwise could only be narrow-minded or simply willfully ignorant and hateful. Speaking of ignorance, my suggestion to you would be to actually make a careful read of the Church’s teaching regarding sexuality in general, particularly John Paul II’s “Love and Responsibility”. I think you will find it far less bigoted than your own inclinations, and also shockingly reasonable and compassionate. You may even, perhaps, find it a refreshing change from a culture that both reduces sexuality to a “commodity”, while also simultaneously deifying it as an “identity”. A careful study of what the Church actually teaches would do wonders to abate some of the open and uninformed hatred directed toward the Church on comment boards such as this. And also, please avoid making some “clever” remark about how the Church is a bunch of hypocrites. Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue, and the Church is full of men and women who fail (sometimes in a grave and even institutionalized manner) to live up to their own standards. Last time I checked, we all do.

  • Crewman87

    It’s doubtful if he was appointed by JPII. Gutierrez’s version of Liberation Theology was more or less shot down by the Church for reducing the mission of Christ, and hence Christianity, to mere humanitarian aims.

  • LesterBallard

    You have no idea what I do with my time or money. I don’t think much much of his “living humbly” and “working with the poor”, when he’s part of multi-billion dollar con organization.

  • Max Bingman

    Sure, I think I’ll take you up on that. I will state, as you say, that there is nothing harmful or destructive about the homosexual lifestyle, and anyone who thinks otherwise could only be narrow-minded or simply willfully ignorant and hateful. Thank-you. I couldn’t have put it better myself.

    I’m sorry quoting Pope Francis’ bigoted quotes verbatim isn’t enough for you, but ulimately, not my problem. I’m not a bigot for failing to tolerate intolerance. That is an argument for thumb suckers. What you call my “pro-gay ideology” I just call treating people with basic respect, fairness, and decency.

    By the way, you brought up the Dark Ages and the pedophile clergy and the church’s rampant hypocrisy, not me. Maybe next time you mighty just spend more time debating the posts I actually make and less time debating the version of me that only exists in your head.

    Was that “clever” enough for you?

  • Crewman87

    With regard to your claim that there are no negative health effects:

    As far as the rest of the post, you obviously seem fine holding a double standard (not a bigot for tolerating what you call intolerance), and second, if you actually read up on the Church’s teaching, you would find full of deep respect for homosexual people. Failing to support a lifestyle that promotes the list of health problems above IS treating someone with respect and dignity.

  • Max Bingman

    Gasp! A link with “facts” on the internet! This changes everthing!

  • Foster Lerner

    “Habemus papem” –> “Habemus papam.” f.y.i. I am content to blame Ms. Wilde’s cats.

  • Crewman87

    The website is a project of the American College of Pediatricians. Their sources and research is carefully and extensively documented at the bottom of the page. Sticks and stones man. I’m game if you think it is all a bunch of bs, just show me where. The point is you still haven’t really addressed the underlying concerns surrounding the issue. It’s all fine if you strategy is to make as much as noise as possible so you don’t have to listen to the other side, but at least don’t have the pretension and hubris to go around blaming the Church for being “unreasonable” and “bigoted” when you haven’t presented any coherent and consistent arguments for your own position, much less addressed the well documented facts surrounding the issue. Do the LGBT community a favor and do some research.

  • Rich Wilson

    ACPeds is a socially conservative advocacy group. It was started in protest of the ‘real’ AAP’s support for the rights of same sex couples to adopt. The founder describes the group as:

    with Judeo-Christian, traditional values that is open to pediatric medical professionals of all religions who hold true to the group’s core beliefs: that life begins at conception; and that the traditional family unit, headed by a different-sex couple, poses far fewer risk factors in the adoption and raising of children.

    In the actual link you provided, they say:

    “Some gay men sexualize human waste” (sure, so do some straight men, and lesbian and straight women)

    “As many as 37 percent of homosexuals have practiced some form of sadism” Oh damn, that one is some book so I can’t find the actual source, but a) that’s certainly an inflated number, and b) Hets also practice S&M.

    Those are just a few of the cherries. There’s so much obvious BS in that, I didn’t really need to research the source to see there was an agenda. Doing so did confirm it.

    A bunch of citations to Bullshit on your Bullshit doesn’t make it anything but great fertilizer.

    Do the LGBT community a favor and do some real research rather than confirming your bias that teh gay is icky.

  • Max Bingman

    Stop it! They went to a lot of work to make the American College of Pediatricians or whatever sound all legitimate and shit.

  • Crewman87

    Complaining that the source has a background in Judeo-Christian traditional values does nothing to de-ligetimize the facts, anymore than your own background and agenda doesn’t delegitimize your skepticism of the facts. Unless you’re prepared to back-check every source and show that it is, in fact, completely fabricated. The link you provided was to a tabloid? I assume it was meant as sarcasm to support your point about being able to find whatever you want on the internet as long as you know how to google? Again, sticks and stones man. You haven’t shown me anything saying that there aren’t serious health problems associated with the gay lifestyle. How blunt are we allowed to be on this webpage? WebMD is a pretty basic, reliable website (the wikipedia of medicine, if you will)…let’s see what they have to say:….I’m just surprised that I need to spell this one out.

  • Rich Wilson

    “Complaining that the source has a background in Judeo-Christian traditional values does nothing to de-ligetimize the facts”

    You would be correct to point out that it is a ad homenim argument if I said they were wrong because of their Judeo-Christian background. But in this case, they’ve come right and said they have a conclusion and they’re going to support it. Their goal isn’t what’s best for kids. Their goal is to support their position that gay is bad. Knowing the answer before you start isn’t how you get good information.

    “Unless you’re prepared to back-check every source and show that it is, in fact, completely fabricated.”

    Nonsense. It doesn’t have to be completely fabricated to show that the conclusion is useless. In the single case I cited, be it from a ‘tabloid’, they were completely mis-representing the source paper. It wasn’t a total fabrication- the paper exists but they’re obviously willing to lie about what it means.

    If the site is willing to blatantly lie about at least one source, and others are exceedingly suspicious, it makes them unreliable.

    No, them starting out with a conclusion to prove, and lying about their sources doesn’t in and of itself make them wrong. It just makes them completely unreliable.

    As for your WebMD link, the advice isn’t anything Dan Savage wouldn’t give. So what’s your point? Driving your car is risky. The best way to avoid risk is to abstain from driving. If you are going to drive, wear your seat belt, follow all jurisdictional regulations, and keep distractions to a minimum.

  • Crewman87

    So your tabloid story is reliable because they don’t have an agenda to advance? Also, you have an agenda regarding homosexuality, so why should I listen to your opinion any more than the website I linked?

    It is important to point out that WebMD describes as the “riskiest” form of sexual activity. You’re analogy to driving would hold water if, and only if, the RELATIVE risks associated with driving were equivalent. To use a rather extreme example: there are “safer” ways to to do drugs…that doesn’t make doing drugs a good thing. Limiting the damage from a harmful activity is far different than unsafely preforming an activity that is not intrinsically harmful. The WebMD article provides ways to limit the damage done by what is called the “riskiest” behavior. It’s going to be harmful, but there are ways to mitigate the damage. I don’t think that this makes something, “healthy”. Last of all, I’m not really interested in hanging my hat on the ACP. I don’t care what conclusions THEY draw. The point isn’t THEM, but the research. Frankly, I assumed someone would explore the cited research at one’s leisure and draw one’s own conclusion. You did pique my interest in their provided links, however, so thank you. Here is just one original source study:

    Look, this whole discussion is probably rapidly becoming a lack decorum for Patheos. The point is that no-one can really deny the inherent risks associated with homosexuality. It is a trauma causing act. Period. As humans, we’re just not exactly set evolved to take that sort of activity. Sure you can mitigate the damage, but it is not an intrinically “healthy” act. We didn’t evolve to do that. It is unnatural to the biological function of both body parts involved.

    I respect your ability to articulate your view, and the restraint you use in dealing with me (as I’m sure that I’ve frustrated you). Thank you. I think my overall original point was that before one can bash the Church for its view, a careful study of the issue and the Church’s teaching should be done.

  • Rich Wilson

    I think there’s a difference between a bias (we all have that) and being being a supposed professional society and starting with your conclusion. It really reminds me of what Young Earth Creationist Georgia Purdom said: “We know from scripture that the earth is no more than 6K years old, so anything outside that is a problem” (close paraphrase from memory). If you already ‘know’ the answer, then what’s the point of evidence? (Especially with at least one author of said evidence says you’re mis-representing it by 180 degrees).

    It is important to point out that WebMD describes as the “riskiest” form of sexual activity.

    Makes me wonder if they’ve never heard of auto-asphyxiation…

    What we should really be asking isn’t the relative risk of a particular sex act, but the absolute risk of a particular activity, and then more importantly, what does that have to do with anything?

    Most of the risk of anal sex is tied to the unprotected with strangers aspect. Having unprotected vaginal sex with people you don’t know isn’t especially safe either.

    But even if anal sex was significantly more risky that any other sexual activity- what of it? People can engage in risky activity, especially if it doesn’t endanger anyone else. They can even do it and be parents. I might be inclined to think this wasn’t all a giant red herring if the RC church really focused on anal sex, and not homosexuality. What of straight anal sex? What of lesbians? What of drinking and smoking? It seems clear to me at least that the RC position on homosexual activity is way out of line with how risky it actually is, and how risky many other things are that they don’t bother to condemn.

    And you are right, we probably should have ended several posts ago. Thankfully we live in a (mostly) secular society (at least in the US, I don’t mean to presume where anyone else lives). So the final word is that anal sex is legal. Anyone else’s opinion is moot.