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New pope named, harbors anti-LGBT stance
2013-03-13

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Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio Of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was elected to be the 266th pope of the Catholic Church, taking the name Pope Francis, the Huffington Post reported.

The election came after two rounds of balloting in a morning session March 13. Francis was elected to the papacy after two days of conclave meetings with a total of five ballots cast. Voting in the conclave, which began March 12, is confidential and cardinals were sworn to secrecy, but Francis received at least 77 votes, which is the minimum two-thirds required to become pope.

He became a cardinal in 2001 and was reportedly among the front-runners in the 2005 conclave after the death of Pope John Paul II.

Francis, whose papacy is effective immediately, will be formally installed in the coming days.

The new pope is seen as a champion of the poor. However, his stance is reportedly quite different when it comes to LGBT rights. According to the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs website, as head of the Argentinian bishops, Francis took a firm public stance against the legalization of same-sex marriage advocated by presidents Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

In 2010, in response to marriage-equality legislation, Francis 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," NewNowNext.com reported. Francis has also claimed that same-sex couples adopting was a form of discrimination against children.

GLAAD's President Herndon Graddick stated: "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."

DignityUSA statement:

DignityUSA Executive Director Marianne Duddy-Burke has made the following statement on the election of Pope Francis:

"We join our fellow Catholics in praying for the ministry and leadership of Pope Francis. We applaud the cardinals for their recognition of the rising energy of the Catholic Church in the global South and the new possibilities and perspectives that may come from that region.

"We are encouraged by Pope Francis' clear commitment to the poor, and to the social justice tradition at the heart of our faith. At the same time, we acknowledge that as archbishop and cardinal the man who is now Pope Francis has made some very harsh and inflammatory statements about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. We recognize that sometimes this new job on which he embarks can change the man called to it. We call on our new Pope to recognize that he is now head of a Church that includes a huge number of LGBT people, their families and friends around the world. We invite him to take the time to learn about our lives, our faith, and our families before he makes any papal pronouncements about us, and we stand ready to enter into dialogue with him at any time."

The Rainbow Sash Movement statement:

The significance of this Papal election we believe foreshadows a change not in doctrine, but in tone. He chooses Francis as his name. The first Francis is a saint known for his service to the poor, and rebuilding the Church. The second saint Francis is the cofounder of the Society of Jesus. We don't know which Francis he had in mind, but we suspect it was both.

While the Rainbow Sash Movement does not expect any change in doctrine we do expect the tone of the anti LGBT rhetoric to be toned down. We also expect to see a commitment to give women a larger role in the Church. Doctrine will serve the "People of God" and not the other way around.

We believe Pope Francis will be servant Pope. In that capacity it is our hope he will listen to the various voices in the Church.

He will have more of a focus on social justice, and the preferential option to the poor, and will not be shy about this. As an outsider to the Roman Curia we expect a thorough house cleaning. One of the first things the 30 Cardinal governing the curia will have to do now is submit their resignations.

While Archbishop/Cardinal of Buenos Aires he denied himself the luxuries that previous cardinals enjoyed. He came close to becoming pope last time, reportedly gaining the second-highest vote total in several rounds of voting before he bowed out.

Like Pope John XXIII who was also elected as a compromise Pope we have hope that this Pope will bring unity back, and actively listen to the many sincere voices in the Church.

The Rainbow Sash Movement is hopeful this new occupant of Peters Chair will bring back sanity to a Church that promotes hate over love.

HRC statement:

"We congratulate Pope Francis in his new position as leader for the Roman Catholic Church. As Pope, he has enormous power to be a source of spiritual healing for millions around the world. But for him to be the best kind of spiritual leader, he must acknowledge the signs of the times and embrace LGBT people as worthy of dignity and respect. American lay Catholics are fully supportive of equality, even more so than the broader population. The new Pope should follow the virtuous lead of his flock.

"We hope the new Pope understands the time for religious-based bigotry is not only over, but must be denounced. 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."

Equally Blessed Coalition statement:

Equally Blessed, a coalition of four Catholic groups that have spent more than 120 years working on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and their families, released the following statement on the election of Pope Francis I:

"We congratulate Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio on his election as Pope Francis, and join with Catholics everywhere in surrounding him with prayers as he assumes his sacred office.

We are inspired by his humility, his devotion to the poor and the depth and thoughtfulness that characterize much of his writing. Pope Francis understands that we are all in need of God's mercy, and we hope that he conducts his Papacy with this kind of humility. We are encouraged, too, by his frequently voiced conviction that the church must move beyond a preoccupation with its internal concerns and bear God's love to people in the midst of their often difficult daily lives.

"If he truly desires to share the Gospel with all people, Pope Francis will come to realize that many of those created in God's image are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. It is our fervent hope and continuing prayer that Francis will break new ground in opening a conversation with LGBT people so that he may come to know a little about their experiences of God's grace, mercy and love.

"We are mindful some of our new pope's past writings will be profoundly discouraging to LGBT Catholics. During an unsuccessful campaign against marriage equality legislation in Argentina, he wrote things that, frankly, could be considered hateful, calling the legislation that authorized same-sex marriage "a machination of the Father of Lies." He also said adoption by same-sex parents was a form of discrimination against children. These are not statements worthy of a pope, or, for that matter, anyone in pastoral ministry.

"We pray that as Pope Francis begins his new ministry, God will grant him the courage to listen to the voices of all of God's children, especially those who have been oppressed, marginalized and denigrated by the church in the past, so that the pope might better embody the love and mercy about which he speaks so eloquently."

Statement of Francis DeBernardo, executive director, New Ways Ministry

New Ways Ministry greets Pope Francis, and we send him our prayers and best wishes as he takes on the awesome role as Chief Shepherd and Pastor of the Roman Catholic Church.

As he begins his papacy, we request that Pope Francis make one of his top priorities the re-evaluation of the Catholic hierarchy's approach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues. As a cardinal in Argentina, the new pope spoke strongly against marriage equality and against the right for gay and lesbian people to adopt children. We hope that in his new office, he will have the wisdom to hear all sides of these complex issues and that he will inject pastoral messages into his statements.

Over the past several decades, under the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, our church has suffered because of the aggressively negative approach to issues of sexual orientation and gender identity that the hierarchy has taken. As a result of these condemnatory and hurtful messages, thousands upon thousands of people—both LGBT and heterosexual—have left the Catholic Church. Some have looked to other churches for a pastoral welcome, and some have given up on faith altogether.

Pope Francis has the opportunity to repair much of this hurt and alienation by offering sincere pastoral outreach to LGBT people and their families. A welcoming gesture from the new pope in the first month of his papacy can go a long way to express God's love for all humanity. Without such a gesture, the church will continue to lose members, as well as credibility.

Pope Francis will need to go further than gestures, too. In the past few decades, Catholics in the United States and all over the globe have become increasingly welcoming of LGBT people. Catholics have gone to ballot boxes to ensure that LGBT people do not suffer from discrimination and violence, and that they receive equal benefits in society, including civil marriage. During that time, Catholic theologians, using modern research and evidence, have called for the Catholic Church to update its teachings and approach to sexuality, including sexual orientation, same-sex relationships, and gender identity. The Catholic Church is ready for the full acceptance of LGBT people in the church community. The only obstacle to recognition of the full dignity of LGBT people is the intransigence of the hierarchy. Through example and directive, the new pope can move the church toward full acceptance.

Pope Francis has many items on his agenda, but we hope that he will place the updating of Catholic teaching on LGBT issues at the top of his list. The Catholic Church is hurting because of the many people it has lost due to the homophobia and prejudice of its officials. We need the new pope to be a healer and reconciler, and a true shepherd of all souls.


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