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Chemistry’s Pope

May 6, 2013 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 91, Issue 18

It is puzzling that C&EN Online does not have a news entry about Pope Francis. He has an M.S. in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires. According to a Voice of America report, “The new pope, who was born in Buenos Aires to a family of Italian immigrants, spent most of his life in Argentina. After receiving a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Buenos Aires, he decided to become a Jesuit. He was ordained a priest in 1969” (

Editor’s note: C&EN’s Carmen Drahl made note of Pope Francis’ chemistry training in a March 15 blog post (http://­, scroll down).

Roland F. Hirsch
Germantown, Md.

Francis, the first Roman Catholic pope from the Americas, is also the first pope to have taught high school chemistry. I am a 48-year member of ACS, have always identified myself as a chemist, and have had the utmost respect for my fellow chemists. At ACS meetings I have found other members to be open-minded, to possess a sense of curiosity, and to be eager to learn from one another. Although I attended a small, all-girls Catholic college, with strict rules and regulations, I have always been grateful for my excellent education.

My sister and I made up one-half of the senior physical chemistry class, and we had the opportunity to think freely while being guided by excellent, caring faculty. Hopefully, this type of thinking will influence the human race to stand back and consider positive resolutions to ongoing challenges.

Ann T. Kelley



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