The Catholic Church may have a new pope but there his nothing new about his ideas when it comes to the rights of LGBT people.
As Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Primate of Argentina, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio — who was named Pope Francis on Wednesday — has spoken out forcefully against laws granting marriage and adoption rights for gay men and lesbians.
In a 2010 letter published in L’Osservatore Romano, Bergoglio asked monasteries to pray “fervently” that lawmakers in Argentina did not go through with plans to legalize same sex marriage because it would “seriously damage the family.”
“At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children,” he wrote. “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.”
“Let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
Several weeks later, Argentina’s Senate ignored the cardinal’s wishes and approved the law, making it the first Latin American country to give marriage rights to same sex couples.
In a statement on Wednesday, Catholics for Choice President Jon O’Brien welcomed the new pope but had low expectations for change in the Catholic Church.
“We do not expect very many changes, but sincerely hope that the culture will change to better reflect the needs of the church and of Catholics,” O’Brien explained. “As Cardinal Bergoglio, he was outspoken against the recent liberalization of Argentinian laws on abortion, stating flatly that ‘abortion is never a solution.’ But this is no surprise, as he and his fellow electors were all appointed by his two conservative predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II.”
“We call on Pope Francis to recognize that he is now the head of a very diverse church, one that includes Catholics who use contraception, who have or provide abortions, who seek fertility treatments, who engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage or with people of the same sex, as well as people who are living with HIV & AIDS. These Catholics are absolute traditionalists in that they live according to their consciences and by virtue of their faith every day. A leader of our church who affirms rather than denies the lived wisdom of the faithful would be well within the Catholic tradition as well.”
Update: In 2005, a human rights lawyer named Bergoglio in a lawsuit for alleged involvement in the 1976 kidnappings of two priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics, by the country’s military dictatorship. The lawsuit did not specify the nature of the involvement by then-archbishop Bergoglio.