LGBT Catholics remain hopeful despite Pope Francis 1′s anti-gay record

Pope Francis

Cardinal Bergoglio, who has been appointed Pope Francis I, visited an AIDS hospice in this 2001 photo.

Reaction to the election of Pope Francis I in the LGBT community has been mixed.

In a statement, the LGBT Catholic organization Dignity USA wrote:

“We acknowledge that as archbishop and cardinal the man who is now Pope Francis has made some very harsh and inflammatory statements about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. We call on our new Pope to recognize that he is now head of a Church that includes a huge number of LGBT people, their families and friends around the world. We invite him to take the time to learn about our lives, our faith, and our families before he makes any papal pronouncements about us, and we stand ready to enter into dialogue with him at any time.”

In Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio led the “War of God” against marriage equality. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Argentina since July 2010.

The Federatión Argentina LGBT, the largest LGBT advocacy group in Argentina, issued a statement right away, referencing Bergoglio’s anti-gay statements. “While we have no expectations of change from the Vatican, the choice of someone who promoted a ‘War of God’ against marriage equality is disappointing. His radical position on this issue, on the gender identity law and on safe, legal and free abortion, keeps us from being optimistic.”

New Ways Ministry Executive Director Francis DeBernardo wrote, “We request that Pope Francis make one of his top priorities the re-evaluation of the Catholic hierarchy’s approach to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues.”

New Ways Ministries has worked on equal rights for the gay and lesbian community since the 1977.

DeBernardo points out that as a cardinal in Argentina, he spoke strongly against marriage equality and against the right for gays and lesbians to adopt children.

“Pope Francis has the opportunity to repair much of this hurt and alienation by offering sincere pastoral outreach to LGBT people and their families,” he wrote. “In the past few decades, Catholics in the United States and all over the globe have become increasingly welcoming of LGBT people. Catholics have gone to ballot boxes to ensure that LGBT people do not suffer from discrimination and violence, and that they receive equal benefits in society, including civil marriage.”

Father Carl Francis McGowan of Our Lady of Consolation Old Catholc Church, which meets at the Interfaith Peace Chapel, is hopeful the new pope will lead the church in a new direction for LGBT Catholics. Read McGowan’s statement after the jump.

“Considering the Roman Catholic Church’s current stance on gay marriage and adoption, it was always assumed that the new pope would continue with basically the same teaching on the issues as we have seen in the past.

“Unfortunately, the church is very slow to change and it is unlikely any pope will ever participate in a pride parade, however, for those seeking a brighter side from the recent conclave, as we compare Pope Francis I to the conservative group that selected him, we should notice that, unlike some of his predecessors, he has chosen a life with greater humility than his counterparts.

“A strong advocate for the poor, he prefers riding his bike or the bus, cooking his own meals and living in a humble space instead of the more lavish amenities offered him. Although he shares the party line stance against gay marriage and adoptions, he has also actively encouraged families to love and accept their gay children and in recent past visited a hospice where he washed and kissed the feet of AIDS patients.

“Like many others in our community, I am never happy or satisfied when anyone who represents the church or Christ treats our LGBT community or anyone as second class citizens, but I am encouraged that in this sea of Cardinals this man chosen has a spirit of humility that is rare among many leaders of the church.

“Only time will reveal how successful Pope Francis I will be as a shepherd of the church.

“As we enter Holy Week and this most sacred Easter Season, I ask that we pray his humility may grow to encompass the needs, and challenges of all of God’s children, and I invite those who do not feel welcome in the Roman Catholic church to visit us and share their story and faith. Our Lady of Consolation Old Catholic Church was founded apart from the Roman church to receive all those the church has abandoned and hurt, to offer them comfort, acceptance and peace without judgment.”

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