Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=219380
Story Retrieval Date: 5/25/2013 1:12:30 AM CST
George Martell/Flickr Creative Commons
Pope Francis has been praised for his humble style, but some worry about his conservatism.
Some Chicagoans praise pope’s humility, question his conservatism
While acknowledging Pope Francis as a humble pastor, some in Chicago are less happy with his conservative positions on social issues, such as his opposition to homosexuality, and raising questions about the church’s involvement with the former dictatorial junta in Argentina.
Pope Francis was a cardinal in Argentina during the 1976-’83 “dirty war,” in which thousands were kidnapped, tortured and killed by the military regime. Some have charged that the cardinal did not do enough to try to stop the junta’s actions. One author contended that the cardinal was complicit in the kidnapping and torture of two Jesuit priests. The cardinal denied the accusation, saying he worked behind the scenes to gain the priests’ release.
“I wouldn’t expect someone with that kind of a past related to violence being selected,” said Alejo Lifschitz, who is from Buenos Aires and now lives in Chicago.
Despite that concern, Lifschitz said he is happy that the new pope is from South America, as he can now do good things for the region and that this will open the door for possible future popes from South America.
David Malaspina, who is from Bietma in southern Argentina and now lives in Chicago, said that opinions on the pope are split. While many acknowledge the good work he has done for the poor, many are still apprehensive about his conservatism on issues like homosexuality and the church’s relationship with the dictatorship of the junta.
Mike Murphy, director of the Catholic studies program at Loyola University, said that the pope is unlikely to change his views or church doctrine. But the way he handles these issues pastorally can be more sensitive.
“There is a certain view of humans that the church has and I don’t think they are going to soften that,” he said.
Deacon Bill Goulding of the Archdioceses of Milwaukee organizes Gay and Straight in Christ, a group that meets to stimulate open dialogue, education and support for Catholics from the LGBT community.
Goulding said he is encouraged by the model of simplicity shown by the pope. Stories about the pope visiting a homeless shelter in Argentina and washing and kissing the feet of AIDS patients send a message that he may be willing to change his positions.
“I don’t think that any one of the 115 cardinals would have been different on issues like homosexuality, female priests and contraception,” said Goulding, on whether this pope is too conservative on social issues.
But LGBT groups have been quick to issue recommendations on how the pope should deal with the sensitive issue of homosexuality and same sex marriages.
Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice said in a statement that he does not expect many changes, but hopes the culture changes to reflect the needs of the church and Catholics.
“We call on Pope Francis to recognize that he is now the head of a very diverse church, one that includes Catholics who use contraception, who have or provide abortions, who seek fertility treatments, who engage in sexual relationships outside of marriage or with people of the same sex,” he said.
Herndon Graddick, president of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said, “In his life, Jesus condemned gays zero times. In Pope Benedict's short time in the papacy, he made a priority of condemning gay people routinely.”
"We hope this pope will trade in his red shoes for a pair of sandals and spend a lot less time condemning and a lot more time foot-washing."