The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church ended their conclave earlier today and announced that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the new pope. The leader of the 1.2 billion church has taken the name of Francis.
Francis, 76, according to various reports, is a humble man who cares about the poor.
He also is a conservative man, who opposes same-sex marriage and says that it is discriminatory for children to have gay parents because they are denied a mother and a father. He once called gay marriage “a destructive attempt to end God’s plan.”
In the hours after the announcement of the election of a new pope from Argentina, some progressive leaders responded:
President Barack Obama said, “On behalf of the American people, Michelle and I offer our warm wishes to His Holiness Pope Francis as he ascends to the Chair of Saint Peter and begins his papacy. As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than two thousand years – that in each other we see the face of God. … Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith.”
Dr. Sharon Groves, director of the HRC Religion and Faith Program, said, “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.”
Herdon Graddick of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said, “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.”
He also said, “The National Catholic reporter said Pope Francis called adoption by gay and lesbian people a form of discrimination against children. The real discrimination against children is the pedophilia that has run rampant in the Catholic Church with little more than collusion from the Vatican.”
Jon O’Brien of Catholics of Choice stated, “We welcome Pope Franci and look forward to hearing about his priorities in the coming days. We do not expect very many changes, but sincerely hope that the culture will change to better reflect the needs of the church and of Catholics. As Cardinal Bergoglio, he was outspoken against the recent liberalization of Argentinian laws on abortion, stating flatly that ‘abortion is never a solution.’ But this is no surprise, as he and his fellow electors were all appointed by his two conservative predecessors, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II.”
The Equally Blessed Coalition said, “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. … 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.”
Joe Mirabella of All Out said, “I along with fellow Catholics around the world hoped the church was ready to send a signal that they were ready to stop attacking our families. Sadly, with the election of Jorge Begoglio the church has demonstrated they remain out of touch with the flock. LGBT people and our allies are not likely to find a friend in Pope Francis I.”
Ben Summerskill of Stonewall UK said, “We hope Pope Francis shows more Christian love and charity to the world’s 420 million lesbian, gay and bisexual people than his predecessor.”
Editor’s note: to be updated