Sergio Rubin, Cardinal Bergoglio’s authorized biographer says Bergoglio “wagered on a position of greater dialogue with society.” He could see that the church had no chance of stoping the gay marriage bill in Argentina, and believe it was more important to remain relevant in a changing society.
Marcelo Márquez, a gay rights leader and theologian in Argentina wrote a critical letter to Archbishop of Buenos Aires because of Bergoglio’s public opposition to the gay marriage law. Bergoglio called Márquez and told him he supports civil unions and rights for gay couples, but doesn’t believe it should be called “marriage.”
Cardinal Bergoglio was known in Argentina for visiting AIDS patients in hospice where he kissed and washed their feet as a sign of humility.
Despite arguing with bishops for compromise behind closed doors, the cardinal was outnumbered and publicly represented the position of the more conservative bishops. He wrote a letter to the nuns of Buenos Aires presenting the official position of the church:
“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.”
Roxana Alfieri is a social worker who was at the assembly of the bishops in 2010. Se said, “He didn’t want the church to take a position of condemning people but rather of respect for their rights like any vulnerable person.”
A recent Quinnipiac poll found that 54 percent of American Catholics support same-sex marriage. Bergoglio’s pragmatism in 2010 is no guarantee that Pope Francis will be any more liberal on gay rights issues than Pope Benedict, but it offers some hope to Catholics who belief he should.