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More on the New Pope's Civil Union Request: An Act of Humanity or Pragmatism?

Last week I mentioned that Pope Francis, then Cardinal Borgoglio, had floated the idea of civil unions when faced with the unstoppable passage of same-sex marriage, according to his authorized biographer. The NYT has more on that today:

FrancisFaced with the near certain passage of the gay marriage bill, Cardinal Bergoglio offered the civil union compromise as the “lesser of two evils,” said Sergio Rubin, his authorized biographer. “He wagered on a position of greater dialogue with society.”

In the end, though, a majority of the bishops voted to overrule him, his only such loss in his six-year tenure as head of Argentina’s bishops’ conference. But throughout the contentious political debate, he acted as both the public face of the opposition to the law and as a bridge-builder, sometimes reaching out to his critics.

“He listened to my views with a great deal of respect,” said Marcelo Márquez, a gay rights leader and theologian who wrote a tough letter to Cardinal Bergoglio and, to his surprise, received a call from him less than an hour after it was delivered. “He told me that homosexuals need to have recognized rights and that he supported civil unions, but not same-sex marriage.”

Mr. Márquez said he went on to meet twice with Cardinal Bergoglio, telling him of his plan to marry his partner and discussing theology. The man who would become pope gave him a copy of his biography, “The Jesuit.” 

Cardinal Bergoglio’s readiness to reach out across the ideological spectrum and acknowledge civil unions for gay people could raise expectations that he would do the same as pope. But some of this strategic flexibility may have stemmed as much from Francis’ position at the time as from his personal ideology.

Still, LGBT rights groups aren't swayed:

“The reality, beyond what he may have said in private meetings, was that he said some terrible things in public,” said Esteban Paulón, president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals. “He took a role, in public, that was determinedly combative.”

Read the full piece here.


Rachel Maddow on the New Pope's 'War of God' Against Gay Marriage in Argentina: VIDEO

Pope_maddow

Rachel Maddow took a look at Pope Francis (then Cardinal Borgoglio)'s war with the Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner over same-sex marriage in Argentina in a segment that aired last night, noting that "Cardinal Borgoglio called on God to get Argentina's senators to vote against gay marriage."

WargodWatch, AFTER THE JUMP...

The AP posted a related article today, noting:

According to the new pope’s authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin, Bergoglio was politically wise enough to know the church couldn’t win a straight-on fight against gay marriage, so he urged his bishops to lobby for gay civil unions instead. It wasn’t until his proposal was shot down by the bishops’ conference that he publicly declared what Paulon described as the “war of God” — and the church lost the issue altogether.

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.”

Andrés Duque at Blabbeando looked into it a bit more, adding, "I have yet to find independent reports that Bergoglio did indeed back civil unions in Buenos Aires back in 2002."

Continue reading "Rachel Maddow on the New Pope's 'War of God' Against Gay Marriage in Argentina: VIDEO" »


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.


Chile's Copahue Volcano Ready To Blow Its Top: VIDEO

Copahue

The Copahue Volcano in Southeast Chile is blowing off some steam this holiday season, and Chilean authorities are concerned enough about the temperamental volcano's disposition that they've issued a red alert, though aren't going so far as to order evacuations for the area.

In a statement, Chile's Geological and Mining Service stressed that no mandatory evacuations have been ordered around the remote volcano, which lies about 280 kilometers southeast (175 miles) of Concepcion, though the closest roads to it are in Argentina.

Even though the seismic activity suggests a minor eruption, the agency decided to raise the alert level because it could not rule out a major eruption. The service warned specifically about potentially dangerous mudslides within a 15-kilometer (9.3-mile) radius of the crater.

Alto Biobio, a community about 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of Copahue, is under the heightened alert. The governor and emergency officials in Biobio province met Sunday afternoon to discuss possible scenarios, including establishing a plan in case a mass evacuation is deemed necessary.

Minor eruptions were first detected around the mountain, which last erupted in 2000, on Saturday, and the plume of gas has spread steadily over the past few days, potentially providing the region's residents with a Christmas white with ash instead of snow.

Check out some video of the volcano doing its thing AFTER THE JUMP.

Volcanotrail

Continue reading "Chile's Copahue Volcano Ready To Blow Its Top: VIDEO" »


Anti-Gay Ex-Gov. Mark Sanford Gets Engaged

The anti-marriage equality, anti-gay adoption, anti-civil union, pro-constitutional-amendment-defining-marriage-as-the-union-of-one-man-and-one-woman, Republican former governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, is getting married again.

Nm_mark_sanford_110127_mnGov. Sanford proposed to his girlfriend, Maria Belen Chapur, in Argentina on Wednesday. Argentina, please recall, is where Gov. Sanford really was when he disappeared from the governor's office for several days in 2009, after telling a few staffers he was going to "hike the Appalachian trail." He wasn't hiking. He was visiting Ms. Chapur, a commodities broker, with whom he'd been carrying on an affair for at least a year. After the affair became public, Gov. Sanford was nearly impeached, and his wife divorced him.

Gov. Sanford's proposal reportedly came as a surprise to Ms. Chapur, arriving in the middle of lunch at a restaurant called Bella Italia Grill, in Buenos Aires. From The Daily Caller:

... [the] restaurant [is] a favorite of journalists and business executives. Sanford reportedly arrived early and handed the ring in a bag, or pouch, to one of the servers. Sanford then hid himself in the handicapped bathroom for more than an hour before Chapur arrived.

The server approached Chapur and presented her with the pouch, saying that she had won an award for being the hundredth customer of the day. Chapur reportedly opened the pouch and found the ring, and looked confused. Sanford then appeared from his hiding spot and declared his love for her.

... the couple then kissed, cried and promised to love each other forever.


Argentina to Register Gay Couple as Fathers for First Time

Alejandro Nasif Salum, Secretary for International Relations at LGBT rights group Federación Argentina (FALGBT), sent out the following email yesterday:

ArgentinaTomorrow morning, in Buenos Aires, the first inscription of the birth of a baby with two fathers will be done in Argentina. Tobías is a boy who was born a few weeks ago in India after a surrogacy process. He's now arrived to Argentina and both his fathers will be registered with no distinction between the biological one and the other one.

Although Marriage Equality Act states that no difference should be made between children of same or different sex couples, and besides the fact that many birth certificates with two mothers have already been made, it wasn't easy to get to this point as the Civil Registry was at first reluctant to do it, but the work of the Legal Staff of the FALGBT made it possible. I want to recognize my colleagues at that point.

Moreover, a modification to Argentina's Civil Code is being debated in the Congress which would made this kind of registrations standard in all the country. We'll keep you up to date about this process.


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