During the debate for same sex marriage in Argentina, the Catholic Church’s leader in the nation, Jorge Bergoglio, wrote a scathing letter in which he decried the idea, calling it against Gods plan. However, how much of that was his words, and how much the words from the Vatican? And now that he is in the top spot, what will change for the Catholic Church?
A new report from the New York Times casts this whole episode in a brand new light. The Pope’s official biographer, Sergio Rubin, said that during the internal debate, civil unions were offered up as a compromise by none other than the man now known as Pope Francis. His attempt at compromise was silenced by the church, and his letter published with the blessings of Pope Benedict. But this attempt at compromise, as said by Mr. Rubin, was a wager for “a position of greater dialogue with society.”
While the majority of the Cardinals live in isolated life, Pope Francis was always one who was down in the trenches. While his compatriot Cardinals stand tall in order to lead their flocks, Pope Francis as a Cardinal was at the forefront of social issues, helping the poor and sick.
Now some have attempted to claim that while serving as a Cardinal, Pope Francis worked in collusion with the military junta in Argentina to kidnap two fellow priests. The issue with these stories of course being that Pope Francis was not appointed as Cardinal until 25 years after the kidnapping. At the time of the kidnapping, all reports put the man who is now pope as a simple father, who did attempt to warn the two men beforehand of increased risk in the area they were working in at the time. One of the two priests kidnapped, Father Jalics, himself denounced attempts to paint Pope Francis as an ally of the military dictatorship:
I myself was once inclined to believe that we were the victims of a denunciation. [But] at the end of the 90s, after numerous conversations, it became clear to me that this suspicion was unfounded. It is therefore wrong to assert that our capture took place at the initiative of Father Bergoglio [now Pope Francis].
The new Pope is already making waves with his steadfast adherence to simplicity. He has forsaken the palace to live in a simple apartment. He refuses to use the papal limosine, and carries his own luggage. He prefers the simplicity of public transportation.
Marcelo Márquez has his own view of Pope Francis, finding him cordial, polite, and respectful. It began after the advocate in his native Argentina wrote a very aggressive and hostile letter to then Cardinal Bergoglio. To his surprise, the Cardinal wrote him back, and then the two met. This is what Mr. Márquez had to say about the meeting:
He listened to my views with a great deal of respect. He told me that homosexuals need to have recognized rights and that he supported civil unions, but not same-sex marriage.
Change is slow, especially when change is to a very old institution. The election of Pope Francis is a sign that the Catholic Church is attempting to change, or rather, to keep up with the evolution of the world. It was not even 50 years ago that the Catholic Church were the world leaders in science, research, and social justice. A return to this Catholic Church, one which rejected the false narrative of biblical literalism and embraced science, logic, and wisdom not as an enemy of the divine, but expressions of it.
Only time will tell where this is going. But signs are pointing to a new day for the Catholic Church, and for gay rights worldwide.