The Lesson from Argentina
by: John Tyrrell
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Roman Catholics have a new pope, and based on his past record, it's more of the same, only more so. More anti-woman, more anti-gay, more anti-abortion and anti-birth control, and a strong supporter of celibacy for clergy.
He's on the record as against female politicians, against equal rights for gays, for linking homosexuality to demons, for linking gay marriage to Satan's plan, against allowing priests to marry, against abortion, and against birth control.
Perhaps on these issues he was just taking orders from the Vatican and now he's in charge, he might make some changes. Don't hold your breath though.
But there's an important lesson we can learn from his past.
As Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Primate of Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio actively campaigned against Cristina Kirchner because she was a woman and unfit for power by his standards. Argentinians, 90% Catholic, voted her into office.
Cardinal Bergoglio actively campaigned against equal rights for the LGBT community in Argentina. The country responded by becoming the most gay-friendly in Latin America, legalizing same-sex marriage along with full adoption rights for same-sex parents.
Cardinal Bergoglio actively campaigned against legalization of abortion. While the law has not yet been changed, the Supreme Court has opened the door in cases of rape or danger to the woman's life and there is a strong movement trying to open the door further.
Cardinal Bergoglio actively campaigned against birth-control. Birth control pills and condoms are legal and widely available throughout the country, and the government provides free distribution to the poor.
Cardinal Bergoglio spoke out supporting celibacy of priests. It is widely acknowledged that that pretty well any Catholic priest in Latin America, including Argentina, who is not openly living with a mistress is angling to become a bishop.
The lesson being that while the Cardinal was outspoken in supporting the official Vatican line, the people of this Catholic country, including his own clergy, were not listening. They came to their own informed decisions as to appropriate morality.
When the Pope Francis speaks to the world, when he tries to tell all of us - Catholics and non-Catholics alike - how to live our lives, we should treat his advice just as the people of Argentina have treated the gudance of Cardinal Bergoglio.