Journal Article

Habemus Papam

Mary Margaret Mooney

in Christian bioethics: Non-Ecumenical Studies in Medical Morality

Published on behalf of The Journal of Christian Bioethics Inc

Volume 21, issue 1, pages 69-72
Published in print April 2015 | ISSN: 1380-3603
Published online February 2015 | e-ISSN: 1744-4195 | DOI:
Habemus Papam

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In this article, I reflect on the possible bioethical ramifications of Pope Francis’ leadership. The Pope received a lot of attention early on for his merciful and pastoral approach, prompting many to ask whether substantive change is over the horizon. I here note that, if by "substantive" we mean change in doctrine, that will not happen. However, if by "substantive" we are pointing to the means of conveying the good news, then the change, indeed, is substantive. As I point out, in Pope Francis the confrontational and combative approach—error must be corrected and evil resisted, no matter the cost—is being replaced with a methodology of seeking common ground and downplaying irresolvable differences as much as can be done without sacrificing principle. The Pope places less stress on sexual mores and reproduction and more emphasis on matters of social justice, though the latter does not delete the former from the screen of moral consideration. His insistence on respect for the poor and on fair distribution of resources has ramifications for issues in bioethics. Ultimately, Pope Francis’ approach creates a forum for respectful and sincere dialog about the bodies and souls, the hopes, and dreams of the human family.

Keywords: dialogue; Pope Francis; poverty; sexual mores; social justice

Journal Article.  1298 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Christian Life and Practice ; Medical Ethics

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