On September 23, 2015, Pope Francis I (affectionately known as Papa Pancho) brought the core messages contained in his remarkable encyclical (Church teaching document), Laudato Sí, to a joint session of Congress—an unprecedented event hosted by Speaker of the House John Boehner (more about him to come!). Perhaps a gesture meant by Boehner to appease the GOP’s conservative base and justify a government shutdown over Planned Parenthood, the invitation offered the Pope a much broader teaching moment. He made the most of the opportunity to address Congress (as he put it to a standing ovation), “in the land of the free and the home of the brave.” His message was at once gracious, positive and hopeful, fatherly, critical and admonishing, and his call for moral leadership and responsibility towards humanity and the environment far exceeded the narrowly-defined conservative “family” agenda.
Not surprisingly, both the Pope’s encyclical, his speech to Congress and his subsequent address to the United Nations on September 24th reflect the intellectual breadth and spiritual depths of the man we’ve come to know these past few days. Astrologers would argue they also reflect the power and substance of his birth chart, which is, thankfully, available at Astrodatabank.com, with enough documentation of his birth data to garner a Rodden AA rating (birth certificate/record in hand). Let’s consider some highlights (see chart below):
· 6th house Sun at 25+ degree Sagittarius, conjunct North Node and opposed to Chiron. Clearly destined to serve others as a teacher, Pope Francis has a soaring intellect well-suited to the calling. He has taught many disciplines since he joined the Jesuits and began his own studies for the priesthood in 1958. Chiron’s opposition produces a deeply introspective nature and an intense wound to self and ego; the Pope’s humble, self-effacing persona is perhaps reflected here.
· Cancer rises at the Ascendant, trine Saturn in Pisces and opposed by Jupiter-Mercury conjunct in Capricorn. The Pope radiates active pastoral energy with this cardinal Cancer Ascendant. His benevolence, however (most obvious when he interacts with children) is infused with both pragmatic and spiritual ideals (Capricorn-Pisces) that move him to actively serve others (6th house Jupiter, 7th house Mercury in Capricorn, both disposed by 9th house Pisces Saturn). As we’ve witnessed this week, he serves through his actions and by his demanding, spiritually-grounded message of compassion and responsibility.
· The Moon (chart ruler) conjoins Venus in Aquarius and trines Mars in Libra. The Pope’s loving concern for humanity is certainly reflected here, and the trine to Mars reinforces his calls to action. His recurring focus on families as the backbone of societies can be seen in Mars’ 4th house placement. Even though he hews to the church’s conservative teachings about family and marriage, the more open-minded, less judgmental perspective he has taken publicly on divorce and homosexuality (saying, “who am I to judge?”) is perhaps reflected in his 9th house Uranus in Taurus disposing the Aquarius placements. This is especially notable as Venus squares and falls in mutual reception with this point. There is “revolutionary” potential here, suggesting that women might still hope for change in the roles they are allowed to play in the Church under this Pope’s tenure.
· Mercury-Jupiter in Capricorn trine Uranus in Taurus. Here we can see the strength of conviction that underlies the Pope’s courageous, but not always popular, views on social and economic justice and environmental challenges. Both his encyclical and his speeches to Congress and the U.N. expressed how interdependent he believes these issues are. The Pope captured this ideal in his speech to Congress by referring to the figure of Moses present in that chamber. The role Moses played with the Israelites certainly resonates with the Pope’s chart as well: Moses, he said, was both the ideal “patriarch and lawgiver” (Jupiter in Capricorn) and the bridge (Uranus trine) between God and the People that spoke to the “transcendent dignity of the human being” (the highest expression of these placements in Taurus-Capricorn). The urgency of caring for “our common home” by taking responsibility for the wellbeing of the planet is another constant theme in the Pope’s teaching—also not hard to see in these powerful earth-sign placements. Capricorn evokes both the regulatory and conservation impulses of Saturn; Taurus also preserves and celebrates the material dimension of life on this planet. Uranus here explains the Pope’s concern for putting technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral.” This line was only one of several in his speech that were first seen in his encyclical.
· Saturn in Pisces opposes Neptune in Virgo; both form a T-square with Chiron in Gemini. There’s a lot to unpack here, but the overall configuration evokes the deep sense of spiritual vocation the Pope embodies. It suggests a wound-driven need to make spiritual sense of material life, to take responsibility for the wisdom gained, and to communicate that wisdom for the sake of humanity. Even though many public figures and celebrities were born with Chiron in Gemini, this placement often represents a wound to our communication abilities (or at least the feeling that we’re not getting through to others); clearly the Pope has not allowed that to deter his efforts.
· Chiron in Gemini trines Mars in Libra. This upbeat aspect points to the vibrant internal reserves of energy that power the Pope’s daily life and agenda and reflects his active concern for social justice.