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ProGay welcomes new Pope with open mind, wariness

By PROGAY Philippines
March 14, 2013

MANILA – The Progressive Organization of Gays in the Philippines (ProGay), a gay rights alliance in Roman Catholic majority Philippines, welcomed the election of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio as the new leader of the world's largest organized religion with guarded hope for reforms in the scandal-tainted hierarchy.

"The marginalized lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities especially the discriminated, poor, and jobless millions living in the slums welcome a leader who has publicly criticized neoliberal economic policies that destroy livelihoods, the ecology, and health," said Jomar Amores, spokesman of ProGay.

Amores however said that the newly elected Pope Francis made negative statement in 2010 about same-sex marriage as a "a destructive pretension against the plan of God." Before the law allowing marriage equality was passed in Argentina, he preached that "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."

The ProGay leader also noted that in the 1970s, he was silent as the military dictatorship persecuted fellow Jesuits who sided with the oppressed Argentinians during the Dirty War.

"However, we remain hopeful that Pope Francis continues to become more attuned to a world in conflict. He is known for his outreach to the poor, his simple lifestyle, his demonstrated compassion for persons hospitalized with AIDS complications, and his disdain for hypocrite church officials. He once reminded his fellow priests that Jesus went around with prostitutes and thieves," Amores said.

ProGay wishes to see the Vatican open new frank discussions on the increasing inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of the church and proposals to increase legal protections of LGBT rights in secular institutions with less meddling from local church leaders in the Philippines.