U.S. Catholics hopeful, but wary, of new Pope Francis

U.S. Catholics who dreamed of an American pope got their wish — in a way — on Wednesday.

A South American. It was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, who emerged from the conclave as Pope Francis.

Some U.S. church scholars were thrilled, others cautious, and at least one was critical of another aging pope who may be unwilling or unable to make crucial changes in the church.

Here is a pope who has contended with all the issues of the modern West — gay marriage, abortion, contraception, women's rights, the swelling tide of cultural secularism and global poverty. Yet he is also known for standing firmly for core doctrine like the doctrinaire popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI before him.

Catholics may be wary of Pope Francis' conservative views on culture, but still couch their comments in hopeful tones.

A statement from Equally Blessed, a coalition of four Catholic groups concerned with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, urged Pope Francis to listen to their concerns.

They charge, though, that as archbishop of Buenos Aries, Bergoglio made statements "not worthy of a pope or anyone in pastoral ministry" and called his writings "profoundly discouraging to LGBT Catholics."

The statement said, "During an unsuccessful campaign against marriage equality legislation in Argentina, he wrote things that, frankly, could be considered hateful, calling the legislation that authorized same-sex marriage 'a machination of the Father of Lies.' He also said adoption by same-sex parents was a form of discrimination against children."

USA Today, March 14, 2013

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