By Joey Natividad
CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region (BicolToday.com/17-MAR-2013) – Sectors representing gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders in the country greeted the new Pope with open mind and hope that he will be committed to social issues and commit himself to address human rights issues in oppressive and repressive governments.
The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay), a gay rights alliance in this dominant Roman Catholic majority country, welcomed the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the new leader of the world’s largest organized religion with guarded hope for reforms in the scandal-tainted hierarchy.
“The marginalized lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities especially the discriminated, poor, and jobless millions living in the slums welcome a leader who has publicly criticized neoliberal economic policies that destroy livelihoods, the ecology, and health,” said Jomar Amores, spokesman of ProGay, as he informed Bicoltoday.com on Thursday, the day the selection of the new Pope was publicly announced.
But, Amores said the newly elected Pope Francis made negative statements in 2010 about same-sex marriage as a “a destructive pretension against the plan of God.” Before the law allowing marriage equality was passed in Argentina, he preached that “We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
ProGay recalled some incidents about Church policies in Argentina when the Pope was still a Cardinal in Buenos Aires.
The ProGay leader also noted that in the 1970s, he had been silent as the military dictatorship persecuted fellow Jesuits who sided with the oppressed Argentinians during the Dirty War.
“However, we remain hopeful that Pope Francis continues to become more attuned to a world in conflict. He is known for his outreach to the poor, his simple lifestyle, his demonstrated compassion for persons hospitalized with AIDS complications, and his disdain for hypocrite church officials. He once reminded his fellow priests that Jesus went around with prostitutes and thieves,” Amores said.
“We wish to see the Vatican open on new frank discussions on the increasing inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of the church and proposals to increase legal protections of LGBT rights in secular institutions with less meddling from local church leaders in the Philippines. [BicolToday.com]