New Pope Francis a Veteran at Dealing with Anger Over the Church’s Anti-Gay Stance: His Quotes in Context

Yesterday I posted some quotes from Cardinal Jorge Borgoglio, now known as Pope Francis I, related to his thoughts on same-sex marriage and gay adoption.

FrancisThe latter set of quotes, in which Bergoglio called same-sex marriage "the destructive attempt to end God's plan," came from a letter he wrote to a group of nuns that was never supposed to be made public, though when it did, the church drew backlash from Argentina's secular population, Buzzfeed's J. Lester Feder explains in an excellent piece bringing context to these quotes.

After the letter was exposed, and its damage evident, this happened, Feder explains:

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. (This would be like Rick Santorum having endorsed a civil union law in the United States.) It went nowhere. During the debate, the leader of the majority party reduced her to tears while calling her a "Nazi" for backing legislation that would create a "separate-but-equal" status for same-sex couples.

After that, the church noticeably moderated its tone when fighting social issues. During a debate over changes to the civil code in 2012, which included sensitive reproduction issues like surrogacy and the handling of fertilized eggs, the church tread far more lightly — making their case but avoiding the strong language that cost them support in 2010.

"Today they come with a stance that is much more receptive to another point of view," said the chairman of the committee leading the civil code reforms back in August 2012.

How much this experience has moderated Bergoglio himself remains to be seen. He was replaced as the leader of the Argentine church by Archbishop José María Arancedo, who is known for having a far less belligerent manner than Bergoglio.

We can hope that it has moderated Bergoglio, but, of course, that remains to be seen.

Feder notes that it has given Bergoglio a bit of practice in dealing with certain situations:

Bergoglio understands far better than his predecessor the challenges of opposing the tide in favor of same-sex marriage in countries where the church is embattled on many fronts…If the position of the church itself does not change, Bergoglio — now Pope Francis — may nonetheless have a more grounded sense of how to lead an institution in countries where its policy positions are dividing it from the people it hopes to reach.

We'll see.

In related news on character, David Mixner notes Bergoglio's silence during Argentina's "dirty war" in which "between 15,000 to 30,000 artists, writers, students, intellectuals, trade unionists and even priest were brutally killed, often tortured and their bodies thrown out of airplanes over the ocean."

He writes:

The Catholic Church at the best was silent about the 'missing' and supported the military junta when it was in power and conducting the mass killings from 1976 to 1983. In fact, the church handed over two priests who refused to adhere to the church's support for the military's dirty war and they became among the missing.

What we do know with certainty from that period is that the new Pope remained silent about the killing, torture and dumping.


  1. jjose712 says

    Well, given the fact that all cardinals are extremely conservative, i have to say that the new Pope is one of the best possible options.

    He doesn’t seem ultraconservative (we’ll see if he stays that way as pope) and he is a jesuit, wich means he is not that close to certain ultraconservative groups like Opus Dei.

    The man seems nearer to the basis than Benedict, his clothes indicate that he is not that interested in the flashy and pompous looks, and he seems more sympathetic.

    As i say, there’s all to be seen, but at least i didn’t have the strong reject reaction that i had with Ratzinger

  2. jleo71 says

    How can the church defend these murderers, for that is what they are. Keeping silent when you know people are being murdered may even be a worse crime than the actual murders. First Ratboy now this one. When will the church stop protecting criminals.

  3. Pete N SFO says

    We really are in the Honeymoon period w/ Pope Francis, arent’ we?

    Does he hate the gays as much as Papa Ratzi? Was he complicit or silent during Argentina’s Dirty War?

    Personally, I’m hoping he’ll stay out of our lives & differ from Ratzinger by skipping the weekly press releases about how evil we all are.

    At the least, Americans are about to get a world history lesson about what was happn’n in Argentina at the time; that’s a good thing.

  4. matt says

    We’ll know soon enough. With gay marriage set to be approved in France and Britain, Francis will speak now or forever hold his peace.
    If he comes out aggressively against the legalization in France, we’ll know that he will continue to prosecute the culture wars.
    If he doesn’t, it’s a sign of a more spiritual pope. Then, maybe, all catholics will at least have an opportunity to feel good about being catholic again.

  5. LCR Jay says

    The gay community is as obsessed with the Catholic church as they claim the Catholic church is with them. Some act as if Francis gave some big induction speech, where he said hello by trashing gay people. Soon as it was announced that he had been appointed, some people immediately looked to see what his stance on gay marriage, and gay people in general, just to ring an alarm and complain.

    In the words of Carly Simon, “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you…”

  6. JohnAGJ says

    @LCR Jay: Given that same-sex marriage is definitely on the political stage right now, as well as the USCCB’s strong opposition to it, it should come as no surprise that the new pope’s views on the matter are being discussed. It’s not just gays or SSM supporters who are “obsessed” with it, take a look at the more conservative sites or even NOMBlog and what the first things THEY had to say about him.

  7. Gigi says

    @LCR GAY

    We’re “obsessed” with the RCC because we take issue with the fact that they hypocritically condemn gay people while protecting priests who r@pe children. When the church found out about the crimes of the pedo priests did they turn them over to the authorities? No. They shipped them to a different parish, giving them a fresh new crop of children to r@pe. They didn’t give a damn about the lives that these priests had destroyed. When these children grew up and finally had the strength to bring charges against the r@pist priests, the RCC hid assets so they wouldn’t have to pay damages. The closed down parishes and orphanages in protest. Their concern was to protect the reputation of the church.
    Ratzinger wasn’t pope when much of this started to come to light, but he was the man who engineered the cover-up. Once he became pope he began his attack on gay people, saying it was us, and not the RCC, who was a danger to society. Gay people are “of the devil” and destroyers of families. With Francis it’ll be business as usual.

    Ya, we’re so vain. And you’re deluded.

  8. David Hearne says

    “We’re “obsessed” with the RCC because we take issue with the fact that they hypocritically condemn gay people while protecting priests who r@pe children.

    I really wish that people would stop phrasing this this way. Condemning gay people while protecting priests who sexually abuse minors is not hypocrisy… BECAUSE GAY HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CHILD MOLESTATION.

  9. Henry Holland says

    Not surprised that the Argentinian church sucked up to the military junta. I can’t remember the exact quote or who said it but it’s something like:

    Of course the church aligns itself with tyranny, it’s how it ensures its survival

    Same ol’, same ol’.

  10. MateoM says

    LCR Jay would take umbrage with the LGBT community getting uppity with the Catholic Church’s campaign to condem and vilify same sex relationships.

    That’s because he’s a Log Cabin Republican. And those gals would never even dream of offending their oppressors, because they’re suck ups and cowards.

    LCR Jay: we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going to let ourselves be victims anymore. I’m sorry our open pride and self respect make you uncomfortable.

  11. says

    LCR Jay – just because you swallow and grovel at the feet of anti-gay bigots doesn’t mean that the rest of us want to follow you in being a wimpy doormat.

    Pope schmope. I’ll start respecting a Pope when they elect one that, for once, doesn’t believe that the more than 6 million Jews exterminated in the Holocaust are in “Hell” for all eternity – joined by folks like Gandhi, John Lennon, and pretty much any other non-Catholics, gays included.

  12. jamal49 says

    Great. Another reactionary Pope. Just what the Church needed. Elected without counsel from the Laity, as usual. The man has a shameful past involvement en La Guerra Sucia that Argentina endured throughout the 70’s and 80’s. The new Pope has copious amounts of blood on his hands. He’s a perfect fit for the Papacy.

  13. anon says

    His record during the dirty war seems mixed. He personally rescued some but collaborated on others. Currently, there a lawsuits against him that might go to the European Court of Justice, mostly to embarrass him.

  14. andrew says

    All the talk about god’s plans for marriage must come from people who don’t believe that the bible is god’s words. If you read about how god interacted with Abraham, Isaac, Saul, David et al. He clearly intended that men should have plural wives and concubines. In one comment Yahweh says to David: ” didn’t I give you all your lord’s (Saul) palaces and wives?”

  15. Travis says

    Actually, to be accurate, he’s just Pope Francis. He won’t be known as Pope Francis I until there’s a Pope Francis II…therefore a dead pope.

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