Rorate Caeli

NCR report from Argentina: "He did, in fact, favor civil unions."

We have come to a sad time when NCR at least strives to have more accurate reporting than some "conservative" blogs and publications: 

Congress of the Argentine Nation, Buenos Aires

On March 19, The New York Times reported that when Argentina was gearing up for a bitter national debate on gay [sic] marriage in 2009 and 2010, Bergoglio quietly favored a compromise solution that would have included civil unions for same-sex couples.

One source for that story was an Argentine journalist named Sergio Rubin, co-author with Francesca Ambrogetti of an interview book with Bergoglio titled El Jesuita. (I met Ambrogetti while I was in Buenos Aires. She told me the full version of how it took years for the notoriously media-averse Bergoglio to agree to the interview.)

Rubin's version of events was swiftly denied by Miguel Woites, director of the Argentinian Catholic Information Agency, a news outlet linked to the Buenos Aires archdiocese. Woites insisted Bergoglio would "never" have favored any legal recognition of same-sex unions and said the Times report was a "complete error."

On this score, I was told by three sources in Argentina that the Times basically got it right: Bergoglio did, in fact, favor civil unions.

That was confirmed on background by two senior officials of the bishops' conference in Argentina, both of whom worked with Bergoglio and took part in the behind-the-scenes discussions as the conference tried to shape its position.

"Bergoglio supported civil unions," one of those officials told me.

Mariano de Vedia, a veteran journalist for La Nación, has covered church/state issues in Argentina for years and said he could confirm Bergoglio's position had been correctly described in the Times account.

Guillermo Villarreal, a Catholic journalist in Argentina, said it was well known at the time that Bergoglio's moderate position was opposed by Archbishop Héctor Rubén Agüer of La Plata, the leader of the hawks. The difference was not over whether to oppose gay marriage, but how ferociously to do so and whether there was room for a compromise on civil unions.

Villareal described the standoff over gay [sic] marriage as the only vote Bergoglio ever lost during his six years as president of the conference.  [N.B.  The "vote" was a majority of the  Bishops' Conference in Argentina overruling the then-Cardinal's civil union endorsement.]

Behind the scenes, sources say Bergoglio tried to avoid fireworks on the gay [sic] marriage issue. One young Catholic told me, for instance, he had wanted to organize a public recitation of the rosary on the eve of the vote outside the legislature, knowing that supporters of gay [sic] marriage would also be there and the prayer would be a provocation. He wrote to Bergoglio seeking advice, he said, and Bergoglio called him directly, suggesting they pray at home instead.

Oesterheld suggested Bergoglio went along with the harder line espoused by the majority of the bishops' conference even if it wasn't his own instinct.

"At that time, there were different views within the bishops' conference on how open the church should be [to compromise solutions]," Oesterheld said. "The cardinal went along with what the majority wanted. He didn't impose his own views. He never publicly expressed his own feelings on the matter, because he didn't want to seem to be undercutting the common position of the bishops."

Once again, John Allen Jr. could have saved his trip if he had read Rorate in 2010:

The Bishops [of Argentina] came very late into the game, mostly to display a façade of 'action' before the Holy See, and Catholics remained uninformed about their religious obligations until the very end. 

As our readers can see, we were right not only on the absence of Diocesan Traditional Latin Masses in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires... At the time, the inside information on how a minority, headed by the then-Archbishop of Buenos Aires, had favored civil unions was unclear. What we could report was that there was a façade, but, as we can see now, a unified one.

As an aside, following the example of their larger neighbor across the River Plate, the parliament of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay overwhelmingly approved the redefinition of marriage to include counternatural unions this week. More on that and what it means regarding the influence of the Church in an increasingly Protestantized and/or secularized Latin America in an upcoming post.

P.S. The reigning Pontiff in 2010 was Benedict XVI, who unceasingly repeated (for instance, in 2006): "[I]t is a serious error to obscure the value and roles of the legitimate family founded on marriage by attributing legal recognition to other improper forms of union for which there is really no effective social need." In 2005 he had said: "Today, the various forms of the erosion of marriage, such as free unions and 'trial marriage', and even pseudo-marriages between people of the same sex, are instead an expression of anarchic freedom that are wrongly made to pass as true human liberation. This pseudo-freedom is based on a trivialization of the body, which inevitably entails the trivialization of the person. Its premise is that the human being can do to himself or herself whatever he or she likes: thus, the body becomes a secondary thing that can be manipulated, from the human point of view, and used as one likes. Licentiousness, which passes for the discovery of the body and its value, is actually a dualism that makes the body despicable, placing it, so to speak, outside the person's authentic being and dignity."


  1. This is how the french episcopate weedled their way round the homosexual marriage issue. The UK NO church has done similarly. Civil union is the liberal modernist "opt out" mechanism for appearing politically docile on the issue. I can well imagine that in latin America similar strategies have been adopted by NO bishops and archbishops.

    After everything that has occurred in the post-conciliar church over 48 years, can we genuinely trust the epscopate on this and other matters?

  2. Can one be Catholic and support sodomite unions at the same time?

    I do not believe a Cardinal of the Church could do so.

  3. Anonymous8:56 PM

    Let's not forget cardinals are not infallible on faith and morals.

  4. Agreed Adfero but they are malleable! Evidently.


    About Cardinal Bergoglio´s complicity on "civil unions"

  6. switching9:15 PM

    OK. You have convinced me. I am giving up Rorate for the NCR.
    Thanks for the post.

  7. Yoo-hoo! Mission accomplished...
    I doubt it, friend. You'll keep coming back. Every single day.

  8. New springtime my foot9:20 PM

    It's all the fault of Vatican II. Happy Anniversary Baby!

  9. Donnacha9:24 PM

    The fact that then-Cardinal Bergoglio did not impose his "own view" over that of the majority of the Bishops' Conference is of little consolation in this entire story. His "don't rock the boat" approach is not the sign of one prepared to pilot the Barque of Peter. Moreover, now that he is in a position of unquestionable control, any decision NOT to act on the topic of [sic] "civil unions" will cause great damage.

  10. 'Let's not forget cardinals are not infallible on faith and morals"

    The Natural Law is engraved on every mans heart.

    The sixth and ninth commandments.

    The Church has always and everywhere taught that sexual union, of any human kind, is between one man married to one woman.

    One does not need to have the charism of infallibilty to know this truth.

    No, I do not believe our Holy Father, as Cardinal supported sodomite unions.

  11. switching9:33 PM

    What would you do without me
    NC ;)

  12. TradDadof410:10 PM

    Am sick to my stomach.

  13. True Catholic10:22 PM

    Umm, there's a major problem guys. Last year, John Allen wrote an article entitled "Jewish/Catholic Ties and Thoughts on Pius XII" ( Now, I google-translated the article from English to Italian, then Italian to Hebrew, then Hebrew to Yiddish, then Yiddish to Latin, then Latin back to English. And frankly there are alot of things John says in the article that are troublesome, that is, mainly, most of it is unintellible. Now, before you criticize me for using google-translate, just know that there are enough unintelligble phrases repeated that I can, with 100% certainty, say that his writing doesn't make any sense. Therefore, I don't believe a word of your article above, and I now have proof that you are trying to subvert the Church. You should be ashamed. Oh yeah, and you allowed a comment that mentioned Vatican II, that was NOT "I love Vatican II". shameful.

  14. This is an old lie:

  15. No, it is not, at least not necessarily, Pawel. We love Jeanne Smits, but she should not have jumped to the conclusion immediately before more thorough investigation. Allen, like him or not, took note of the AICA agency denial mentioned by Smits, but interviewed some of the knowledgeable people on the matter, and we particularly notice Mariano de Vedia, a religious affair correspondent for La Nación, one of the most conservative major newspapers in the world (almost always aligned to Catholic moral doctrine on major issues). De Vedia would have no reason whatsoever to make this up, or to reaffirm it, if it were not true, now that the then-Cardinal is the Pontiff.

    Now, it is at the very least still an open question. We would say it makes a lot of sense considering the impression we had at the time of our several 2010 reports on the issue.

  16. Who are the sources for the claim that Bergoglio supported civil unions?

    Liberals try to pin their ideas on popes all the time, knowing that JP, Benedict, Francis, etc aren't going to call a press conference and 'set the record straight'.

    Think about it: if liberals can make us believe that the pope personally supports civil unions for homosexuals, that is a score for the heterodox.

    All they have to do is spread the rumor. They know popes don't defend themselves.

  17. Ezekiel,

    At least one part of the report is absolutely true: the bishops "tried to avoid fireworks on the gay [sic] marriage issue"; as a blog very much interested in the debate, precisely because it was the very first such debate in the most (theoretically) Catholic region in the world, this certainly appeared true at the time. Even the then-Cardinals famous letter to the Carmelites, which we translated at the time, was sent in secret, and only reported after it was leaked, when it was too late.

    Does that mean the other part of the information is true? Not necessarily. But the testimonies pile up.

  18. Let us remember that Pius IX's immediate predecessor said of his family that even cats were liberal.

  19. Granted, there have been Cardinals (the archbishop of Berlin, I think?) who have foolishly suggested openness to civil unions.

    Until it's clear the sources of this accusation against Bergoglio are credible, I see no reason to believe it.

    If he were sympathetic to unions for homosexuals, why write the letter to the Carmelites?

    It strains credulity that a man who calls the push for sodomite marriages an act of Satan would be open to civil unions for them.

  20. New Catholic said...

    "At least one part of the report is absolutely true: the bishops "tried to avoid fireworks on the gay [sic] marriage issue";"


    Our leaders don't lead anymore
    Our heroes aren't valiant anymore
    Our fathers aren't home anymore
    Our mothers won't birthe anymore

    Our churches don't awe anymore
    Our futures aren't safe anymore
    Our past no roots anymore
    Our present not ours anymore

    The truth glossed o’er anymore
    But hang a cross anymore
    They'll all appear anymore
    Outraged at faith anymore

    They share their lusts and explore
    They're seasoned whores to the core
    They're salt of the earth they implore
    These Sodomed-souls at Hell’s door

  21. Cotton D11:26 PM

    When I read all this material I can't but think the secular establishment is succeeding in splitting and weakening the Church.