There have been numerous discussions looking into Cardinal Bergoglio’s history before becoming Pope Francis in order to speculate on how his papacy will go forward. His strong opposition to Marriage Equality certainly is one of the most critically discussed, and perhaps the most thoughtful look yet is from Simon Romero and Emily Schmall in the New York Times:
Argentina was on the verge of approving gay marriage, and the Roman Catholic Church was desperate to stop that from happening. It would lead tens of thousands of its followers in protest on the streets of Buenos Aires and publicly condemn the proposed law, a direct threat to church teaching, as the work of the devil.
But behind the scenes, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who led the public charge against the measure, spoke out in a heated meeting of bishops in 2010 and advocated a highly unorthodox solution: that the church in Argentina support the idea of civil unions for gay couples.
The concession inflamed the gathering — and offers a telling insight into the leadership style he may now bring to the papacy….
Faced with the near certain passage of the gay marriage bill, Cardinal Bergoglio offered the civil union compromise as the “lesser of two evils,” said Sergio Rubin, his authorized biographer. “He wagered on a position of greater dialogue with society.”
In the end, though, a majority of the bishops voted to overrule him, his only such loss in his six-year tenure as head of Argentina’s bishops’ conference. But throughout the contentious political debate, he acted as both the public face of the opposition to the law and as a bridge-builder, sometimes reaching out to his critics.
The article continues in exploring the relationship between Cardinal Bergoglio and gay rights leader and theologian Marcelo Márquez, and speculates as to whether or not Pope Francis will “reach out across the ideological spectrum” as he did as cardinal.
While balanced in tone, it is also clear that the new pope should not be given a pass here:
There was little ambiguity in Cardinal Bergoglio’s vehement opposition to the gay marriage law, which was approved by the Senate in July 2010. In the months between the bishops’ meeting and the Senate vote, the cardinal, in a letter, called the bill a “destructive pretension against the plan of God.”
Clashing with Argentina’s president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who supported the law, he endorsed protests involving tens of thousands of people against the bill, incurring the ire of some gay rights leaders here.
“The reality, beyond what he may have said in private meetings, was that he said some terrible things in public,” said Esteban Paulón, president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals. “He took a role, in public, that was determinedly combative.”