New Pope means no change for gay Catholics
The new Pope is expected to maintain the Catholic Church’s conservative stance on same-sex marriage and homosexuality.
Seventy-six-year-old Argentinean Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected to the papacy this morning and will be known as Pope Francis.
The head of the Jesuit mission in Australia, Father Steve Curtin who belongs to the order to which the new Pope also belongs, told ABC TV today he expected the Bergoglio would keep to the current Catholic line that homosexuals should remain celibate.
"I think we can expect him to be very compassionate but I think naturally we will expect him to uphold the traditional teaching of the church in those areas [gay marriage and abortion],” Curtin said.
Bergoglio has previously described same-sex marriage and gay couples adopting as a “destructive attack on God’s plan.”
The new Pope has also said that same-sex adoption is a form of discrimination and abuse against children.
In 2010, he fought against the introduction of same-sex marriage and adoption rights in his home country, saying the population would “face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family”.
Andre Banks of gay lobby group AllOut said the new Pope has a long history of opposing equality for gays and lesbians in Argentina.
“By electing Jorge Bergoglio to be Pope, the Catholic Church has renewed their commitment to oppose equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans people,” Banks said.
However, Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Rodney Croome hopes the new Pope’s position on reform will change when he sees the positive impact of same-sex marriage in his own country of Argentina.
"Francis is the first pope to come from a country with marriage equality, and even though he was deeply opposed to reform we urge him to consider how none of the negative impacts he feared have eventuated and many people have benefitted," Croome said.
"In Argentina, as elsewhere, heterosexual marriages have not been adversely affected by marriage equality as the Catholic Church said they would, and instead society is more just, and relationships and families have been strengthened."
Bergoglio's decision to become the first pope to go by the name Francis is seen as highly significant.
The name draws on the legacy of St Francis of Assisi, the 13th century founder of the Franciscan Order who was a man of the common people and remains a symbol of asceticism.
Debate continues as to whether outgoing Pope Benedict XVI should hold the title Pope Emeritus and be permitted to wear the papal white robes, with some commentators saying this would lead to a ‘two-pope’ system that could have dangerous consequences when it came to Church leadership if the two men held conflicting views.