Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now to be known forever as Pope Francis, sounds likeable enough, to people who are disposed to like high-ranking men of the cloth. The 76-year-old Argentine is reportedly marked by a devotion to the poor and a cultivated humility—he doesn't like limos or fancy palaces, you see, favoring public transportation and sparse apartments over luxury.
But anyone who was looking for a liberal reformer in the Vatican is probably going to keep waiting. The vast majority of American Catholics now find birth control morally acceptable, and 54 percent of American Catholics now support same-sex marriage. Optimists thought this might signal that the next supreme leader of Catholicism would himself—but certainly not herself! ha ha! that would be crazy—reflect the forward momentum of his adherents. Yesterday, Pope Francis looked down upon thousands of people gathered beneath his Vatican City balcony, and millions watching around the world, and effectively said, "Nope."
In honor of all of the papacy's cloak-and-dagger skullduggery, let's start with the rumors: Though he was never directly charged with aiding and abetting Argentina's murderous dictatorial regime during the country's infamous "Dirty War," years later a journalist would accuse Bergoglio of hiding imprisoned victims from human-rights workers. These allegations were detailed by Hugh O'Shaughnessy in the Guardian in 2011 (emphasis ours):
The extent of the church's complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina's most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence). He recounts how the Argentine navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship's political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate. The most shaming thing for the church is that in such circumstances Bergoglio's name was allowed to go forward in the ballot to chose the successor of John Paul II. What scandal would not have ensued if the first pope ever to be elected from the continent of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false imprisonment
In 2005, just before Benedict XVI was chosen to be pope ahead of him, an Argentinean human-rights attorney filed a criminal complaint accusing Bergoglio of helping dictators kidnap two Jesuit priests. This claim was also sketched out in Verbitsky's book, but Bergoglio's spokesman called the charges "old slander," and Bergoglio himself emerged unscathed.
What is certain is that Bergoglio has since made no bones about his part in a different kind of war, this one against gay people. And that's not hyperbole on our part; Brergoglio himself calls it "a war."
In June 2010, one month before Argentina officially voted to legalize same-sex marriage, Bergoglio wrote a letter to the Carmelite Nuns of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. In it, he called Argentina's gay marriage bill a work of the Devil and "a move of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God." He later added that waging battle against gay marriage is "a war of God."
Bergoglio and the rest of his flock's prayers didn't work, and on July 22, Argentina became the first country in Latin America to allow same-sex marriage. It was yet another in a long line of defeats Bergoglio suffered at the hands of a much more progressive Argentinean government, led by President Cristina Fernandez, widow to former President Nestor Kirchner. When Bergoglio said that gay people adopting kids was tantamount to "discrimination" against children, Fernandez said his ideas were those of "medieval times and the Inquisition."
If it's any consolation—and if you're gay it's probably not—the Guardian reports that, despite his many conservative stances (and possible war crimes), Pope Francis believes condoms "can be permissible" to prevent the passage of infection. It only took thousands of years, but there you have it: Condoms might possibly be OK in order to help prevent scores and scores of people from constantly dying of AIDS. Welcome to progress, Catholic style.