Well that was exciting! 76-year-old Argentinian Cardinal Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, has been declared winner of the Papal election that has gone on for two days and seen five rounds of voting. For the Catholic Church, the election of a non-European is a pretty big deal, and Cardinal Bergoglio is the first Latin American to hold the position. However, if anyone was expecting bold new leadership for the Church, they might be slightly disappointed as Bergoglio is hardly a progressive. As Time Magazine noted in 2010:
When Argentina in mid-July legalized gay marriage, the country’s Catholic bishops weren’t content to simply denounce the legislation; they used the occasion to argue for the subhumanity of homosexual men and lesbians, the way many white Southern preachers weren’t ashamed to degrade African Americans during the civil rights movement. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio not only called the new law “a scheme to destroy God’s plan”; he termed it “a real and dire anthropological throwback,” as if homosexuality were evolutionarily inferior to heterosexuality.
In profile piece, USAToday notes that Bergoglio is, well, pretty much the same as every other Pope elected throughout history. Old, white, conservative, anti contraception and anti gay. Here are some key facts about the new Pope:
Reportedly received the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election.
Despite being Argentina’s top church official, Bergoglio never lived in the ornate church mansion in Buenos Aires, preferring a simple bed in a downtown room heated by a small stove. For years, he took public transportation around the city and cooked his own meals.
Had a lung removed due to infection when he was a teenager.
Couldn’t prevent Argentina from becoming the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage or stop its president, Cristina Fernandez, from promoting free contraception and artificial insemination. When Bergoglio argued that gay adoptions discriminate against children, Fernandez compared his tone to “medieval times and the Inquisition.”
Critics accuse him of failing to stand up publicly against the country’s military dictatorship from 1976-1983, when victims and their relatives often brought first-hand accounts of torture, death and kidnappings.
No Jesuit priest has ever served as pontiff.
On the plus side, he does seem to be genuinely concerned about the poor. Pity about everything else though.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.