Prior to becoming Pope Francis, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio has been outspoken against gay marriage, abortion, same-sex adoption and other polarizing topics within the Catholic Church.
On top of fixing decades of clerical sexual abuse and quelling infighting within the church, newly elected Pope Francis faces a slew of challenges many of his predecessors did not have. Today's Catholics want to know how Francis views homosexuality, the expansion of same-sex marriage rights, and how Catholic leaders rationalize what many believe are archaic positions on contraception and abortion.
Below, we look at how Argentina's former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio responded to some of these issues.
Argentina legalized gay marriage in 2010, but not without opposition from the country's Catholic leaders and the archbishop of Buenos Aires at the time, Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. He emphatically spoke out against the bill, calling it a "destructive pretension against the plan of God" and a "machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God," LifeSiteNews reported.
He was most concerned it would destroy the sanctity of the family. "The Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family. ... At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children," Bergoglio wrote in a letter to the four monasteries of Argentina.
In 2010, Bergoglio asserted that gay adoption was a form of discrimination against children who would be deprived of a mother and a father.
"At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God," he said. "At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts."
The then-archbishop of Buenos Aires received a stern response from Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, who equated Bergoglio's message with Spanish Inquisition-era persecution.
Baptizing children born out of wedlock
While staunchly conservative in many regards, Bergoglio in 2012 admonished priests who refused to baptize babies born to unmarried parents, calling the exclusion a form of "rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism," the National Catholic Reporter reported.
“If children without legally married parents were denied baptisms, God's people, like the rest of the world, would be driven away from salvation,” Bergoglio said.
Bergoglio criticized a 2006 Argentinean measure to legalize abortion in certain circumstances, such as when a pregnancy resulted from the rape of a disabled or mentally ill person. He accused the government of disrespecting the views of the majority and undermining the church's position on the dignity of a person, the Catholic News reported. In 2007, Bergoglio called abortion a "death sentence" for unborn children.
"Abortion is never a solution," he added.
Bergoglio has decried assisted suicide and also lambasted the Argentine government for refusing to fully pay for elder care after a certain point. This he called "clandestine euthanasia."
"Today, elderly people are discarded when, in reality, they are the seat of wisdom of the society," he said, according to Life News.
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