The selection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as Pope Francis stirred immediate reactions by LGBT advocates, both in the U.S. and Argentina.
LGBT advocates in Argentina, who are familiar with Bergoglio's anti-gay rhetoric, commented on why he was selected as pope. Rev. Victor Bracuto is a Metropolitan Community Church Pastor in Buenos Aires, and South America Coordinator for Other Sheep. "Making Bergoglio the pope is one of the best strategies to attempt to control indomitable Catholic Latin America and its march towards the laws of equality," Bracuto speculated.
"The [media] only gives the tip of the iceberg regarding Bergoglio's history of rabid homophobia," noted Dr. Thomas D. Hanks, Other Sheep Theologian and Director of Mission. "I'm sure there will be strong protests from GLBTT Argentine Catholics and their allies. Probably Bergoglio's selection had to do with all the gay scandals recently surfacing in the Vatican--pick one of the most infamously homophobic cardinals to create [a] counter image."
The Federatión Argentina LGBT, the largest LGBT advocacy group in Argentina issued a statement right away, referencing Bergoglio's anti-gay statements. "While we have no expectations of change from the Vatican, the choice of someone who promoted a "war of God" against marriage equality, is disappointing. His radical position on this issue, on the gender identity law and on safe, legal and free abortion, keeps us from being optimistic."
In the U.S., LGBT Catholic organizations acknowledged the harmful statements made by Bergoglio and called on him to recognize and listen to LGBT Catholics in the fold.
"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," said LGBT Catholic advocacy organization Dignity USA in an issued statement. "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."
Dignity's partners in the Equally Blessed coalition also expressed hope that the new pope would recognize LGBT Catholics, but also took him to task for his previous anti-gay language: "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."
The Rainbow Sash Movement succinctly stated that they were "hopeful this new occupant of Peter's Chair will bring back sanity to a Church that promotes hate over love."
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick weighed in immediately. "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 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 abetting from the Vatican."
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