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Argentine Cardinal elected pope — first pontiff from Americas


Staff and Wire Reports

Updated: 4:30 p.m. EDT.

VATICAN CITY — Argentine Jorge Bergoglio has been elected pope, the first ever from the Americas and the first from outside Europe in more than a millennium. He chose the name Pope Francis.

After announcing “Habemus Papum” — “We have a pope!” — a cardinal standing on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica on Wednesday revealed the identity of the new pontiff, using his Latin name. Bergoglio had reportedly finished second in the 2005 conclave that produced Benedict XVI — who last month became the first pope to resign in 600 years.

Pope Francis speaks from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican on Wednesday. Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio who chose the name of Francis, is the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church.
Photo: Gregorio Borgia, AP

The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests.

LGBT rights in the new pontiff’s home country of Argentina are the most advanced in Latin America, following the legalization of same-sex marriage, that also includes full adoption rights, on July 15, 2010.

At that time, then-Cardinal Bergoglio spoke out in opposition the the marriage bill, calling it “a destructive pretension against the plan of God … 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.”

Herndon Graddick, President of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), reacted to the election of the new Pope:

“For decades the Catholic hierarchy has been in need of desperate reform. 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. This, in spite of the fact, that the Catholic hierarchy had been in collusion to cover up the widespread abuse of children within its care.

“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.

“The National Catholic reporter said Pope Francis called adoption by gay and lesbian people a form of discrimination against children. The real discrimination against children is the pedophilia that has run rampant in the Catholic Church with little more than collusion from the Vatican.”

The Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said it was a “good hypothesis” that Francis would be installed next Tuesday, on the feast of St. Joseph, patron saint of the universal church.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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