The confirmation of Pope Francis I has created a bit of a stir among progressive Catholics, especially since he appears more liberal than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. Further analysis of the new Pope’s stance on social issues reveals more of the same-old, same-old.
The Pope's home country of Argentina was the first in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage, a radical move in a region dominated by Catholic culture. As the movement towards legalizing marriage equality gained steam in 2010, Archbishop of Buenos Aires Cardinal Jorge Maria Bergoglio, as he was then known, campaigned against same-sex marriage and publicly clashed with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner on the issue. Bergoglio called same-sex marriage “a plan to destroy God’s plan.”
“This is no mere legislative bill. It is a move by the father of lies to confuse and deceive the children of God,” he said at the time, according to NBC News.
As Pope, Bergoglio still disagrees with the notion that the gay members of his congregation should have the same rights as the straight members. Even though the Pope was recently photographed washing the feet of AIDS patients and juvenile delinquents, it's disheartening to think that the Pope thinks the juvenile delinquents of the world are more worthy of his blessing than gay and lesbian couples.
The Pope is steadfastly against adoption by gay couples, which he called a form of "discrimination" against children. In a 2010 letter, Bergoglio said that gay marriage, and gay adoption, was a form of assault on the family and discriminated against children. “At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children,” he wrote, according to the Huffington Post. “At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”
Tantalizingly, some have reported that Bergoglio has privately accepted civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, if only as a method of preventing more comprehensive equal marriage from becoming the norm. Sergio Rubin, Beroglio’s official biographer, told The New York Times that the Cardinal saw the union as “the lesser of two evils.” Rubin added, “He wagered on a position of greater dialogue with society.”
Will this type of compromise come to define the Vatican under Pope Francis’ administration? While the Catholic Church is in dire need of reform, there doesn't seem to be much hope in it coming from its newest Pope.