New Pope, Same as the Old Pope?
When it comes to LGBT issues, the selection of Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the next pope makes it a case of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."
When his nation was debating marriage equality in 2010, he was a staunch opponent, calling it a “destructive attack on God’s plan.” The law passed nonetheless.
Bergoglio, who is the first non-European to be named pope and who will adopt the name Francis I, also has spoken out against allowing gay couples to adopt children, saying it is a form of discrimination against children. That already has the ire of LGBT activists in the United States.
"The National Catholic Reporter said Pope Francis called adoption by gay and lesbian people a form of discrimination against children," said Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, in a statement. "The real discrimination against children is the pedophilia that has run rampant in the Catholic Church with little more than collusion from the Vatican."
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."
Argentina's president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, publicly rebuked Bergoglio for his comment about adoption, according to the National Catholic Reporter, which describes him as "unwaveringly orthodox on matters of sexual morality, staunchly opposing abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception."
The publication also notes, "Nevertheless, he has shown deep compassion for the victims of HIV-AIDS; in 2001, he visited a hospice to kiss and wash the feet of 12 AIDS patients."
Pope Benedict had regularly used the power of his pulpit to condemn marriage equality in the harshest of terms, most recently using the annual message of peace to say letting gays and lesbians marry is "an offence against the truth of the human person."
The Human Rights Campaign reminded Pope Francis that he now has "enormous power to be a source of spiritual healing for millions around the world."
“We hope the new Pope understands the time for religious-based bigotry is not only over, but must be denounced," said Sharon Groves, director of the HRC's Religion and Faith Program. "Demonizing LGBT people and their families from this powerful platform not only fails to keep faith with the most charitable principles of Catholic teachings and the Jesuit tradition of caring for the marginalized, but it does real psychological damage to millions of LGBT people around the world.”