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.