Because there are no overtly gay-friendly cardinals on earth, when the 115 voting-age scarlet princes glided into the Sistine chapel to select from their ranks a new pope, hopes were slim that gay Catholics would benefit from the conclave. When the chosen one stepped out onto the balcony of Saint Peter’s basilica, it was clear that the haze of white smoke over the crowd in the piazza was laced with carbon monoxide smuggled in from Argentina and lethal to gay Catholics. Unless the new Pope Francis does some serious backpedaling from his anti-gay words and record in Buenos Aires, the “Extra Omnes” that is intoned when the doors to the conclave are locked will never be an exhortation to gay Catholics to feel free to come out of their closets and to share love openly.
Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio who has named himself Pope Francis is reputed to be a simple man who cooks for himself, takes the bus (which in Buenos Aires is a scary choice) and eschews the trappings of prestige, including the bishop’s palace. Those are admirable qualities, as was his Holy Thursday choice to wash the feet of persons with AIDS, but before we get teary-eyed over what may seem like an antidote to his gilded predecessor, we ought to consider the fact that Pope Francis went beyond the call of duty in opposing gay marriage and gay adoption in Argentina. All cardinals follow the directives of their boss and deliver boilerplate proclaiming that gay sex is opposed to the natural law of God, but Cardinal Bergoglio went further and laced his script with original messages of hate, calling gay marriage “a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” He also said that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children because it deprives them of the possibility of a good life that can only come from families comprised of one father and one mother.
If he thinks his home girl Evita’s “Rainbow Tour” was an embarrassing flop, I hope he’s got his white watered silk seatbelt tightly fastened because he is in for a bumpy ride. Moments after his first appearance, gay activists began the drumbeat of protest suggesting a worldwide demonstration against a church so bent on oppressing its gay members that it would choose a leader more rabidly anti-gay than the other men among the “papabili.” We get the message. It is now clear that in the days before the conclave when the cardinals gathered together to discuss the problems faced by a church in crisis, gay people did not appear on the list of needed reparations. It is obvious that the cardinals were not looking for a pope who could make any of us want to darken a church door except to view the frescoes depicting a savior who had long ago left the building and who would disapprove of such a pope.
Upon hearing the news of Bergoglio’s ascension to the throne of Peter, friends asked me if he is gay. I think he is of that most dangerous breed of cardinal: the elderly virgin who has never constructed an erotic fantasy, assumes that Jesus also never wanted sex–gay or straight–and believes that the surest road to heaven is to encourage by neglect the starved withering of his god-given sex organs. No wonder he hates The Gay.
Pope Francis will be appealing to those who find the wealth and opulence of Catholicism distasteful, but I fear his lessons and example will be a triumph of style over substance; and given that the leopard never changes his spots, we will probably not see the changes we had only barely dared to dream. He is 76 years old. He has only one lung with which to spew his nonsense. Maybe God will intervene on our behalf, but I won’t be holding my breath except whenever I taste the acidic tingle of white smoke.