Days into his papacy, Pope Francis’ record on marriage equality while archbishop in 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 indicate a murkier record from the pope on marriage equality that may impact how the Catholic Church responds to the widening legalization of marriage and family rights for same-gender couples worldwide.
Argentina passed marriage equality in 2010, becoming the first Latin American nation to do so. As Cardinal Bergoglio, the new pope postured himself squarely against the measure in the months leading up to the law’s passage. NBC Latino reports on the Argentine LGBT community’s memories of Cardinal Bergoglio:
“[The cardinal] was the visible face of the Catholic Church’s opposition to equal marriage and he approached it from a fundamentalist position, posturing that he had to wage a war of God against what he considered a plan of the devil,” said Esteban Paulon, president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals… “Despite his conservatism, ‘Bergoglio is known for being moderate and finding a balance between reactionary and progressive sectors,’ Paulon said. ‘When he came out strongly against gay marriage, he did it under pressure from the conservatives.’”
Buzzfeed reports that Cardinal Bergoglio’s efforts were not limited to demonizing same-gender marriage. He also took canonical and political actions to undermine supports of marriage equality within the Church and elsewhere:
“Around the same time as Bergoglio’s letter [which referred to the law as the work of the Devil] reached the press, groups of priests from the cities of Quilmes and Córdoba publically [sic] denounced the church’s position; one priest, Nicolas Alesio, wound up being defrocked for endorsing the marriage law. “When it became clear that stopping the marriage law would be impossible, the church may have tacitly given its backing to a civil union law as a way to head off the marriage bill. Senator Liliana Negre de Alonso, a member of Opus Dei and one of the politicians most closely linked to the Catholic Church, sponsored the civil union bill…It went nowhere… “After that, the church noticeably moderated its tone when fighting social issues.”
Further complicating understandings of Pope Francis is a report in International Business Times that claims Cardinal Bergoglio allegedly supported same-gender marriage as long as these couples were denied adoption rights:
“A news report from 2010 suggests that Bergoglio may support a limited version of gay marriage, a position that would represent a major shift from his predecessors… “While serving as archbishop of Buenos Aires, the man who is now Pope Francis appears to have signaled a willingness to accept same-sex marriage with certain restrictions, according to a May 6, 2010, report by the Uruguay-based news agency MercoPress. “”Buenos Aires Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio would have accepted homosexual marriage as long as it did not allow adoption, according to sources close to the Argentine cardinal,” the MercoPress story reported.”
While at this point, we only have this checkered record of reports to estimate Pope Francis’ LGBT activities, he could clarify the confusion, by making a wonderful gesture of reconciliation to LGBT Catholics, which New Ways Ministry called for on the day he was elected pope. The sooner he does something like this, the sooner the record will be clarified, and more importantly, the sooner our hierarchy can begin the process of reconciliation with LGBT people which has been so damaged by our two previous popes.
–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry