March 20, 2013

The new "pragmatic" pope

There's an article in the NYT today about how Pope Francis dealt with gay marriage when he was a cardinal in Argentina. The refreshing message is that this pope is not the old pope. Where Benedict would never bend on any matter, Francis understands the art of compromise.
“The melody may be the same, but the sound is completely different,” Alberto Melloni, the director of the liberal Catholic John XXIII Foundation for Religious Science in Bologna, Italy, said of the two. 
Much to the horror of Argentina's bishops, Bergoglio (Francis' maiden name) suggested a way out of the impasse the church had reached with the Argentinian government, which was committed to allowing gay marriage.
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.”
But the bishops who served on Argentina's Bishops Conference would have none of it, and overruled him. It was the only time Bergoglio lost a round during his six years as head of the Conference. But now he's the popeyguy, the man whom no priest can cross. However, the article cautions that decent people we shouldn't get our hopes up.
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.” 
So in the end, what have we learned? Bergoglio was a good guy, and he was a bad guy. But at least he reached out to the gay population in some way. The article relates the experience of a gay activist who met with him on more than one occasion. He said the pope always treated him with respect. I like that.

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