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Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D.

New Pope is a Chemist

By March 15, 2013

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You may have heard that the new pope, Argentinian Jorge Mario Bergoglio, is the first South American pope and the first to be called Francis. Did you know he is also the first chemist pope?

According to Scientific American, Pope Francis has a master's degree in chemistry. Although there have been numerous prominent Jesuit scientists through the ages, this is the first time one with a background specifically in chemistry has been chosen to lead the Catholic Church. It will be interesting to hear his opinions on scientific topics, particularly those that have been debated by the Church for hundreds of years. Do you have any expectations or ideas about what Pope Francis might have to say regarding science or how having a chemist as a pope might affect Vatican policy?

Famous Chemists


March 18, 2013 at 3:36 am
(1) mohamed says:

you can discover more wonder scientific facts related to religion from this site http://www.islam-guide.com/

March 18, 2013 at 3:49 am
(2) Grace McCaughey says:

How terrific! a A Science literate Pope!
Hopefully he knows about the science of food and that a simple diet minus sugary drinks, highly processed food and alcohol will make for a healthy world.

March 18, 2013 at 5:15 am
(3) Prof.A.K.M. Muzammel Huque says:

Being a student of chemistry for the last 40 years, I myself have never found a tiny contradiction between chemistry and religion.In this context , I request Pope Francis to deliver speech on the scientific background of all heavenly religions.

March 18, 2013 at 6:25 am
(4) Jessijan says:

It is very interesting. I never thought a person could actually learn science and religion at the same time. As for me, I am taking higher chemistry subjects in my course and I can’t balance my beliefs in religion with all the science explanations. Sometimes, it will be easier for me to say that God made all things, but well, Science exist. I’m not an atheist, it would be just wonderful to know how a person could understand these two. Thanks for the thought! It makes me wonder.

March 18, 2013 at 9:24 am
(5) Alessandro says:

It’s very interesting, because in the current days, the religion must walk together with the science.

March 18, 2013 at 8:56 pm
(6) Kirsty says:

I would like to see what he’s going to do about transubstantiation (ie. the view that the bread and wine truly become the body and blood of Christ. I’m sure that that’s dodgy chemistry, or a mind-numbingly complicated chemical reaction).

March 19, 2013 at 5:06 am
(7) Renee' says:

Finally we will learn how many angels can fit on the head of a pin!
Seriously, I think this will be wonderful for all humanity
Grande de Deos

March 19, 2013 at 9:45 am
(8) Lyle says:

As a Catholic, I can say that the Church has always respected science. ( it gave us the scientific method for example). The last two popes have written extensively on faith and reason (science). Studying science increases my faith, it does not diminish it. People have a misconception that the Church is at odds with science because of Galileo’s conflict with a pope.
Pope Francis is a Jesuit. The Jesuits were founded by St. Ignatius and are considered to be very intellectual. They founded many of our universities. The fact that the pope has a chemistry degree- How cool is that!

March 19, 2013 at 10:10 am
(9) Howard says:

There is no contraddiction between science and religion.Dialogue between the two disciplines is good and healthy.
Truth is always truth.

March 20, 2013 at 12:23 am
(10) Nirav vaishnav says:

I believe people with science background can explain the religion better. As I, also being a chemistry teacher, I always find a similarity in the concepts of chemistry and religion or with real or practical life. It shall be worth seeing him maintaining a balance between religion and science in all his endevours.

March 20, 2013 at 3:18 am
(11) anuradha says:

wow you made a great job . what is the secret that you discover new things?

March 22, 2013 at 12:58 am
(12) MaryoftheGael says:

Chemistry is actually–alchemy! I worked in the field for years.

March 22, 2013 at 9:57 pm
(13) menshadow says:

If you recall, it was another Priest that gave us the “Big Bang Theory” which I believe is now accepted by most Scientist. There is no problem with Religion accepting Science, it is that science has a problem accepting Religion. The study of Chemistry embraces so many other branches of science that it becomes so much easier to accept that God created the Universe than any of today’s best guesses. As for creation, I would suggest you look at “man”, the more you understand the beauty and complexity of the design the easier it is to see who his creator was.
I believe that Pope Frances has spent many periods in his quest for knowledge that he has accepted both God and Science as two branches of the same tree.

March 23, 2013 at 2:32 pm
(14) martin wesh says:

am student in chemistry field, our pope gona world in science ,n pope francis wil only concentrate on church work,

January 26, 2014 at 12:53 am
(15) Paul says:

For anyone who thinks the Roman Catholic Church (the largest sect of Christianity) opposes science, I suggest reading John Paul II encyclical letter Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason). In it he argues that faith and reason are compatible and that either one alone can lead to irrational conclusions. Faith alone, or fideism, leads to irrational conclusions regarding our world (creationism). Rationalism leads to a mistrust of reason and can justify inhuman acts for a seemingly greater cause. The letter obviously offers much more than those three points and articulates them more properly. It is a quick read and recommend it for all who perceive that the Church is anti-science.

He ends the letter by thanking scientists for their work while at the same time praising God. Do not equate the anti-science attitudes of a minority group of Christians with all Christians. If science and Christianity were so opposed to eachother, as some would have you think, truly Christianity would not exist.

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