National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Does Pope Francis have a master's degree in chemistry?

Numerous press reports are saying that Pope Francis has a master's degree in chemistry, including one that incorrectly cites me as a source. Sorry, it is not true.

It is true that Pope Francis studied chemistry and worked as a chemist prior to entering the seminary. But Jorge Bergoglio never graduated from university prior to entering the seminary.

"For Bergoglio's generation, a university education was still something pretty much beyond the reach of his social class," explains Jesuit Fr. Arthur Liebscher, associate professor of Latin American church history at Santa Clara University. "Although Argentine education is completely free of charge, there was an elitist air to finishing a licentiate or doctorate. Bergoglio took advantage of what was available, and it wasn't bad."

What he did do was graduate with a título in chemistry from the Escuela Técnica Industrial No. 12*, which is a state-run technical secondary school.

In the Argentine system, "the título (same word used for a secondary diploma or a university degree) was earned at about age 19 after an extended secondary program," Liebscher said. "Not everyone who goes to secondary school gets one of those diplomas, and the título really represents something beyond our high-school diploma, something akin a certificate from a community college in the U.S."

Celebrate World Youth Day! Get $10 off an NCR gift subscription. Enter code YOUTH at the checkout page.
SW_WYD-2016---web-ad-1.jpg

In Liebscher's opinion, "the education offered in such Argentine schools is quite a bit better, certainly in Bergoglio's era, than what we'd find in a North American high school."

"Bergoglio did receive a secular education aimed at employment in a technical field," Liebscher said. "However, he did not receive a university degree in chemistry."

Liebscher said he hopes this does not sound like "we're denigrating his education. Francis certainly respects the scientific method, and careful measurement ranks high in his list of values."

*Correction: The original version had Bergoglio attending Escuela Nacional de Educación Técnica n.º 27.

[Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. His email address is treesesj@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ThomasReeseSJ.]

Editor's note: We can send you an email alert every time Thomas Reese's column, Faith and Justice, is posted. Go to this page and follow directions: Email alert sign-up.

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

FRIENDS-ff.jpg

NCR Email Alerts