Behind closed doors, pope supported civil unions in Argentina, activist says

Updated 2:22 PM EDT, Thu March 21, 2013
02:32 - Source: CNN
Activist: Pope said he favors gay rights

Story highlights

An activist and a pastor say the pope told them he supported civil unions in Argentina

Reports say the pope also pushed bishops to support the idea at a 2010 meeting

As archbishop of Buenos Aires, the pope was a vocal opponent to same-sex marriage

The pope once called same-sex marriage "a destructive attack on God's plan"

Buenos Aires CNN —  

Less than an hour after he fired off an angry letter to Catholic Church leaders about their handling of Argentina’s same-sex marriage debate, Marcelo Marquez says his phone rang.

He was surprised to hear the voice on the other end of the line. It was Jorge Mario Bergoglio, then the archbishop of Buenos Aires, and now the pope.

What Bergoglio said to him at a meeting soon afterward that year, 2010, was even more surprising, Marquez said.

For months, church officials had made sharp, public criticisms of the push to legalize same-sex marriage in the South American country. But privately, Bergoglio seemed to be more open to discussion, according to Marquez.

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“He told me. … ‘I’m in favor of gay rights and in any case, I also favor civil unions for homosexuals, but I believe that Argentina is not yet ready for a gay marriage law,’” said Marquez, a gay rights activist, a self-described devout Catholic and a former theology professor at a Catholic seminary.