REACTING to the news that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, 76, had been chosen yesterday as the new Pope, the UK gay humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) said that it was "not at all surprised that that he is as homophobic as the previous incumbents".
Pope Francis I, from Argentina, strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow same-sex marriage, calling it:
A real and dire anthropological throwback.
In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote:
Let's not be naive, we're not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.
He has also insisted that adoption by homosexuals is a form of discrimination against children. This homophobic outburst received a rebuke from Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who said the church's tone was reminiscent of 'medieval times and the Inquisition'.
Commenting on the appointment, The PTT Secretary George Broadhead said:
The Argentine President’s comment couldn’t be more apposite. All rational thinking people must have been sickened by the sycophantic coverage by most of the media of the new Pope’s election in which the iniquities of the Roman Catholic Church – the cover-up of child sex abuse, the opposition to the use of condoms, especially to prevent AIDS, the opposition to voluntary euthanasia for those suffering terminal illness and of course the opposition to LGBT rights – were largely ignored. LGBT people face intensified hostility from this vile, reactionary institution.
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick responded to the election of the new pope in a statement obtained by The Huffington Post.
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.
Graddick also specifically addressed Francis' previous comments about gay adoption being a "discrimination against children".
The real discrimination against children is the paedophilia that has run rampant in the Catholic Church with little more than collusion from the Vatican.
Along with GLAAD, Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill responded to the new pope's election, saying:
We hope Pope Francis shows more Christian love and charity to the world’s 420 million lesbian, gay and bisexual people than his predecessor.
Despite the Pope's prior anti-gay sentiments, Francis' official biographer, Sergio Rubin, defended him as a noble man.
Is Bergoglio a progressive – a liberation theologist even? No. He's no third-world priest. Does he criticize the International Monetary Fund, and neoliberalism? Yes. Does he spend a great deal of time in the slums? Yes.
In 2001, he visited a hospice and washed the feet of AIDS patients, according to The National Catholic Register. That same year he spoke out in defence of those less fortunate, contrasting 'poor people who are persecuted for demanding work, and rich people who are applauded for fleeing from justice.
Justice? That's rich coming from a man who, together with his Church, was complicit in the horrendous crimes of "the unspeakably brutal Western-supported military dictatorship that seized power in that country in 1976 and battened on it for years".
Writing in the Guardian in 2011, Hugh O'Shaughnessy said:
What one did not hear from any senior member of the Argentinian hierarchy was any expression of regret for the Church's collaboration and in these crimes. The extent of the Church's complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina's most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence).
He recounts how the Argentinian navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship's political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate.
The most shaming thing for the Church is that in such circumstances Bergoglio's name was allowed to go forward in the ballot to chose the successor of John Paul II. What scandal would not have ensued if the first Pope ever to be elected from the continent of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false imprisonment.