Pope Francis Called Civil Unions 'Lesser of Two Evils'

By Michelle Garcia

Originally published on Advocate.com March 20 2013 6:07 PM ET

When Argentina was about to enact marriage equality in 2010, then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, said the Roman Catholic Church would have preferred civil unions for same-sex couples as the "lesser of two evils."

Publicly, Bergoglio led the charge against the measure. Behind closed doors at a meeting with Argentina's bishops, Bergoglio argued that the marriage bill would certainly pass, so the church should try to compromise by endorsing civil unions instead, according to Pope Francis's authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin. The bishops overruled his idea, but Argentine gay activist Marcelo Márquez said Bergoglio handled the situation with respect.

"He listened to my views with a great deal of respect," he said, according to The New York Times. "He told me that homosexuals need to have recognized rights and that he supported civil unions, but not same-sex marriage."

Still, Esteban Paulón, president of the Argentine Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transsexuals, said that Pope Francis should not be deemed an LGBT ally.

"The reality, beyond what he may have said in private meetings, was that he said some terrible things in public," Paulón said. "He took a role, in public, that was determinedly combative."

Publicly, Bergoglio did call marriage equality a "destructive attack on God's plan." He also said adoption by gay and lesbian people is a form of discrimination against children.