When Pope Francis was Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, his stance on LGBT issues were regressive to say the least. Bergoglio had described Argentina’s 2010 Same-Sex Marriage Law, Latin America’s first, as the work of the devil. His cathedral overlooked Buenos Aires’ Plaza de Mayo where for years the start of the Gay Pride parade would be met by staunch Catholic protesters who had to be kept separate by a line of police. Even President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner openly taunted Bergoglio for his stance on gay rights.
This all changed when he was elected Pope. We all assumed that Pope Francis would be the same as Bergoglio, backwards on LGBT equality, but that hasn’t been the case. From his famous comment: [w]hen I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem…they’re our brothers; to, his historic meeting with a married gay activist, Simón Cazal, executive director of Paraguay LGBT group SomosGay, to a private meeting in January with a transgender man who was rejected by members of his church in Spain.
Lastly, let’s not forget the lunch the Pope organized with 90 inmates from a prison near Naples, Italy, including 10 from a unit reserved for gay, transgender, and HIV-positive people. Both meetings were positioned as part of the pope’s outreach and ministry to those “marginalized” by the church.
I envision Pope Francis apologizing for all that has and is done in the name of God to the LGBT community, if not in Philadelphia, definitely before his Papal reign is over. Pope Francis has gone where not many have before and just a few months ago, apologized for the sins and “offenses” committed by the Catholic Church against indigenous peoples during the colonial-era conquest of the Americas. He is not afraid to lead his Church to a more loving and empathic stance on all issues and that is to be commended.
Unfortunately if the Pope is looking to dialogue with the LGBT community during his visit and if the LGBT family is a part of the Catholic church, he will not find them represented in any events at the World Meeting of Families. Organizers have erased them completely.
As such, LGBT children, teachers and families who are only wishing to dialogue with Pope and express how their families have been affected by the reign of Archbishop Caput, will gather in the private courtyard of the John C. Anderson Apartments, Philadelphia’s LGBT-friendly affordable senior living facility, on September 26th.
Pope Francis has been, through his actions, fostering an atmosphere of respect and tolerance between the Church and its LGBT brothers and sisters and we hope he continues it here in the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.
All in all, why the shift between Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio and Pope Francis? There is no one on earth for Pope Francis to answer to and he believes in his heart that God wants everyone to treat each other with love, respect and tolerance – so he’s leading by example.
Philadelphia Based – Angela D. Giampolo is Founder of PhillyGayLawyer.com and Giampolo Law Group whose practice focuses on LGBT law, corporate transactions, civil rights, employment discrimination, real estate, domestic and international adoptions, and estates.