Pope Francis Has Mixed LGBT Legacy As Archbishop in Argentina

Pope Francis

As Pope Francis settles in after initial celebrations, onlookers from all perspectives and places begin to dissect his legacy in Argentina to derive how he may lead from Rome. Bondings 2.0 will provide readers with a variety of commentary and information on Pope Francis as his papacy commences, starting today with an examination of his record on LGBT issues while archbishop.

Most notably, Cardinal Bergoglio presided over the Argentine Church in its failed attempt to stop marriage equality legislation in 2010 when equal rights for marriage were extended to all couples. The then-cardinal spoke of marriage equality in apocalyptic language. He perceived equal rights as a threat to existing families and used the term “war” when referring to the nation’s marriage equality debate.

Katie McDonough at Salon compiled some of Pope Francis’ sharpest critiques of marriage equality, which speak for themselves and include:

“‘Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God’…

“Look at San Jose, Maria, Child and ask them [to] fervently defend Argentina’s family at this time. [Be reminded] what God told his people in a time of great anguish: “This war is not yours but God’s.” May they succor, defend and join God in this war.’”

Pope Francis, as archbishop in Argentina, also spoke strongly against the adoption of children by same-gender couples, which he labeled a form of discrimination and abuse:

“‘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.’”

On a positive note, Pope Francis is widely revered for his commitment to the marginalized in society. National Catholic Reporter reveals that as Cardinal Bergoglio, he kissed and washed the feet of twelve AIDS patients in 2001 as a show of his “deep compassion for the victims of HIV-AIDS.”

As mixed as this record may be, not all view his record Argentina as the final word now that Cardinal Bergoglio is Pope Francis. Writing in Time, Tim Padgett is keeping his hopes up:

“I want to believe that his history as an advocate for the poor will bring him to see that today’s church is spending an inordinate amount of time, energy and ultimately moral credibility persecuting homosexuals, feminists and other “heretics” while it’s de-prioritizing, at least in the public’s eye, its core Christian (and human) mission of compassion and redemption.”

Whether Pope Francis will experience a shift as he assumes the papacy is known to God alone, but many in the LGBT community hold out for positive movement now that the former pope, Benedict XVI, has retired. Bondings 2.0 will report more thoroughly on signs of hope over the weekend, and further reactions from the Catholic LGBT community and organizations.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

0 replies
  1. Terence
    Terence says:

    To focus on his role in opposing marriage and family equality in Argentina is simplistic. There is a school of thought that says the really interesting aspect of that is how late the Catholic opposition began, and suggests that may be part of the reason that the opposition failed. At least one conservative blogger from Argentina is horrified by his elevation, in part because (in his view), his attempts to prevent the legislation were so luke-warm.

    It’s also important to remember that although he is reported to “uphold Catholic teaching on homosexuality”, that includes (unusually) equal weight for the neglected bits about “respect, compassion, and understanding”, and opposition to discrimination and malice, in deed or action. Taken together with his widely reported insistence to the bishops of Argentina that unmarried mothers and their children deserve as much respect and pastoral support, including baptism of the babies, as any other people, and it is clear that pastoral support is more important in his thinking than doctrinal orthodoxy.This is very different in tone to some bishops who have refused admission to Catholic schools to kids with two moms, or who have withdrawn financial support to charities for street children that also help LGBT clients.

    It’s far too early to say for sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if his response to LGBT Catholics comes to resemble that which is now standard on contraception: insistence that this is prohibited, but a widespread recognition that it is used, and that such decisions in conscience should be respected.

    • newwaysministryblog
      newwaysministryblog says:

      I agree, Terence, that it is still possible that the new pope MAY end up being good for the LGBT community. At this point, though, all we have is his record, which is mixed. It tells me that The fact that he spoke out so histrionically against marriage equality seems to indicate that he is pastorally insensitive to how his language will affect LGBT people. Is that insensitivity due to ignorance, homophobia, or unawareness? Hard to say. Yet, whatever it is his words reflect an insensitivity which I think is dangerous.

      Despite this, I am still impressed by Pope Francis’ commitment to the poor and to simplicity. I am hopeful that he will do a lot of good for the church. However, unless he changes his attitude and rhetoric on LGBT issues, I’m afraid that we will not be any different than the two previous popes. Because of his harmful statement, I think that if he is serious about reaching out to LGBT people, then he has to make a positive gesture to cancel out what he said previously.

      –Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

      • Richard G, Roy
        Richard G, Roy says:

        I agree with everything you have said, Francis. I am encouraged by his love for the poor, however, the new pope must show greater pastoral sensitivity to LGBT people. The language he has used in the past has been truly frightening and only fans the flames of homophobia. Worst of all, if he should speak similarly as pope, it will add to the immense suffering of many LGBT people who still are filled with self-hatred and guilt over how they have been born.

        + The Most Rev. Richard G. Roy, OSJD
        National Catholic Church of America


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Francis’ previous statements on LGBT rights are clear, his record on marriage equality less so–and neither are good. With the inaugural […]

  2. […] leading many to conclude this papacy will be more of the same. Bondings 2.0 previously reported troubling statements made while archbishop, especially an ambiguous record on marriage equality. However, some observers […]

  3. […] Argentina is being further scrutinized. Bondings 2.0 reported last week on initial reports that the new pope had an anti-LGBT record, specifically on marriage rights, and reactions of the LGBT community to that record. Now, reports […]

  4. […] and where he may lead the Church. Prominently featured in these discussions is the new pope’s previous views on Catholic LGBT issues, sparking reactions from relevant organizations and commentators. Bondings […]

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