Some hope for charity to LGBTs from new pope

Francis I (Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in 2008) (Photo by Aibdescalzo via Wikimedia Commons)
Francis I (Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in 2008) (Photo by Aibdescalzo via Wikimedia Commons)

For activists seeking justice and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, there was little to praise in the selection of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as the new pope, Francis I.

About the best they could say about him was that he had urged people to respect homosexuals as individuals.

But his positions are no different from standard anti-gay Roman Catholic teachings. He unsuccessfully opposed same-sex marriage in Argentina, calling it a ploy devised by Satan designed to confuse the people of God. He considers adoption by homosexual parents “discrimination against children.”

Common threads in activists’ conversations as the word of his selection spread: “dismay,” “terrible,” “horrible,” “worrying,” and “regret.”

But also, “The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

Catholic Online described him thus:

As Cardinal, Bergoglio became known for personal humility, doctrinal conservatism and a commitment to social justice. A simple lifestyle has contributed to his reputation for humility. Living in a small apartment, he eschews the typical palatial bishop\’s residence. He gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of public transportation, and reportedly cooks his own meals. …

Among his many edicts, he has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, though he teaches the importance of respecting individuals who are homosexual. He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow same-sex marriage.

The Advocate reported that “From the UK, Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill attempted to remain optimistic: ‘We hope Pope Francis shows more Christian love and charity to the world’s 420 million lesbian, gay and bisexual people than his predecessor.’ ”

Towle Road quoted GLAAD President Herndon Graddick saying:

“For decades the Catholic hierarchy has been in need of desperate reform. In his life, Jesus condemned gays zero times. In Pope Benedict’s short time in the papacy, he made a priority of condemning gay people routinely. This, in spite of the fact, that the Catholic hierarchy had been in collusion to cover up the widespread abuse of children within its care.

We hope this Pope will trade in his red shoes for a pair of sandals and spend a lot less time condemning and a lot more time foot-washing.”

That last wish might be granted.

Bergoglio “emphasizes Christ’s mandate to love: he is well remembered for his 2001 visit to a hospice, in which he washed and kissed the feet of twelve AIDS patients,” Catholic Online reported.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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