Quotes from Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, on 7 Moral Issues

In 2009, Bergoglio said that extreme poverty and the “unjust economic structures that give rise to great inequalities” are violations of human rights and that social debt is “immoral, unjust and illegitimate.”

Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio meets president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Credit Wikipedia

Listers, habemus papam Franciscum. The world was stunned and the pundits proved wrong as the Argentinian Jesuit walked out on the Loggia of St. Peter’s. In a soft but strong voice, Pope Francis gave his first words as the Vicar of Christ:


Brothers and sisters good evening.

You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome.

First of all I would like to say a prayer pray for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord will bless him and that our Lady will protect him…

And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and the people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with the help of my Cardinal Vicar, may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.

And now I would like to give the blessing. But first I want to ask you a favour. Before the Bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence…

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.1


The world waits to see how the pontificate of Pope Francis will shape the world and the Catholic Church. Below are his comments as a Prince of Church on several different moral issues.

Screenshot from the Vatican Site shortly after the election of Pope Francis.

1. Abortion

Abortion is without a doubt one of the greatest moral evils within modernity. As the “Advocate of Christian Memory,” a pope must take up the mantle of defending the culture of life – a defense the Early Church held against the pagans of Rome.


He once called abortion a “death sentence” for unborn children, during a 2007 speech and likening opposition to abortion to opposition to the death penalty.

In an October 2, 2007 speech Bergoglio said that “we aren’t in agreement with the death penalty,” but “in Argentina we have the death penalty. A child conceived by the rape of a mentally ill or retarded woman can be condemned to death.”2


Notice he does not flench on abortion being a “death penalty” for those conceived in rape. Though a child may be conceived by horrid means, that individual child’s life is still innocent and untouched by that evil. God help America if we believe the worth of a child is articulated by the means of its conception.


2. On Receiving the Eucharist

The Cardinal speaks on the worthiness to receive communion regarding those who support grave evils.


The new Pope referred to abortion and communion, saying “we should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”3


Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, also wrote on the worthiness of a Catholic to receive communion when he was a Cardinal in the CDF.


The Cardinal washing the feet at a maternity hospital in 2005.

3. Euthanasia

Notice the Cardinal’s distinction between the apparent and institutionalized euthanasia and the “clandestine euthanasia.”


The new pontiff also denounced euthanasia and assisted suicide, calling it a “culture of discarding” the elderly.

“In Argentina there is clandestine euthanasia. Social services pay up to a certain point; if you pass it, ‘die, you are very old’. Today, elderly people are discarded when, in reality, they are the seat of wisdom of the society,” he said “The right to life means allowing people to live and not killing, allowing them to grow, to eat, to be educated, to be healed, and to be permitted to die with dignity.”4


More may be read on euthanasia at the National Catholic Bioethics Center and for a theological and natural law argument against suicide SPL provides a list from St. Thomas Aquinas.


4. Homosexuality

Hopefully the acute language and highly quotable phrases the Cardinal used to denounce homosexuality will appear in his pontificate as well. He refers to the bill legalizing homosexual marriage as a “machination of the Father of Lies” and that homosexual marriage was a “dire anthropological throwback.”


He has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, including that men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity and that every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. Though equating the pursuit of their equal rights as the devil’s work . He strongly opposed legislation introduced in 2010 by the Argentine Government to allow same-sex marriage, calling it a “real and dire anthropological throwback”. In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote:

“Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is 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.”

He has also insisted that adoption by homosexuals is a form of discrimination against children. This position received a rebuke from Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who said the church’s tone was reminiscent of “medieval times and the Inquisition”.5


Rorate Caeli has been kind enough to publish the letter Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires, wrote to the Carmelite Nuns of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires regarding the bill to legalize homosexual marriage in its full text.


The Vatican News header on the day of the election of Pope Francis.

5. On Poverty

The Pope’s proclivity towards austerity and his work with the downtrodden and sick will most likely translate to poverty being a central pillar of this Jesuit papacy. Just prior to being raised to the Office of St. Peter, the Cardinal wrote a tremendous lenten letter that threaded social ills, the spirituality of lent, and the hope of Christ together in a powerful manner. His comments on poverty and the social injustices that create it are a constant theme of his writings.


In 2009, Bergoglio said that extreme poverty and the “unjust economic structures that give rise to great inequalities” are violations of human rights and that social debt is “immoral, unjust and illegitimate.” During a 48-hour public servant strike in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Bergoglio observed the differences between, “poor people who are persecuted for demanding work, and rich people who are applauded for fleeing from justice.”6


The Cardinal has also commented on how extreme poverty is a violation of human rights.


Social debt is “immoral, unjust and illegitimate,” the cardinal said, emphasizing that this is especially true when it occurs “in a nation that has the objective conditions for avoiding or correcting such harm.” “Unfortunately,” he noted, it seems that those same countries “opt for exacerbating inequalities even more.”

Argentineans have the duty “to work to change the structural causes and personal or corporate attitudes that give rise to this situation (of poverty), and through dialogue reach agreements that allow us to transform this painful reality we refer to when we speak about social debt,” the prelate said.

Cardinal Bergoglio said the challenge to eradicate poverty could not be truthfully met as long as the poor continue to be dependents of the State. The government and other organizations should instead work to create the social conditions that will promote and protect the rights of the poor and enable them to be the builders of their own future, he explained.7


It is impossible to mention Jesuit from South America and not inquire where this Cardinal turned Pope stands on Liberation Theology. His official biographer comments:


“Is Bergoglio a progressive — a liberation theologist even? No. He’s no third-world priest. Does he criticize the International Monetary Fund, and neoliberalism? Yes. Does he spend a great deal of time in the slums? Yes,” [Bergoglio’s authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin] said.

Bergoglio has stood out for his austerity. Even after he became Argentina’s top church official in 2001, he never lived in the ornate church mansion where Pope John Paul II stayed when visiting the country, preferring a simple bed in a downtown building, heated by a small stove on frigid weekends. For years, he took public transportation around the city, and cooked his own meals.8


As the first pope from Latin America and the first non-European pope since one from Syria almost 1200 years ago, it is expected that this Holy Roman Pontiff will speak out against poverty and speak for the downtrodden in a way not seen in some time.


6. On Children

The Cardinal speaks candidly about some of the more vulgar and to outsiders largely  unknown abuses of children in South America.


Bergoglio noted that “the most mentioned word in the Aparecida Document is ‘life’, because the Church is very conscious of the fact that the cheapest thing in Latin America, the thing with the lowest price, is life.”

The cardinal called the abuse of children “demographic terrorism,” and blasted Argentine society for tolerating their exploitation. “Children are mistreated, and are not educated or fed. Many are made into prostitutes and exploited,” he said. “And this happens here in Buenos Aires, in the great city of the south. Child prostitution is offered in some five star hotels: it is included in the entertainment menu, under the heading ‘Other’.”9


On a similar note, the Cardinal has addressed sex trafficking – a grave crime that normally targets the young and vulnerable.


“In our city there are people committing human sacrifice, killing the dignity of these men and these women, these girls and boys that are submitted to this treatment, to slavery. We cannot remain calm.” …. The cardinal urged his fellow citizens to report “breeding grounds for submission, for slavery,” “altars where human sacrifices are offered and which break the will of the people,” asking that “everyone do what they can, but without washing their hands of it, because otherwise we are complicit in this slavery.”10


Shifting to a more positive story, the Cardinal is recorded explaining to children the Gospel and its call to serve the poor.


During his homily, he encouraged children to “seek after Jesus” and to find Him by “opening your hearts,” participating in the Sacrament of Holy Communion and seeing Him in those in need.

“Who told us that we can find Jesus in those most in need?” the cardinal asked. “Mother Teresa,” the children shouted in response.

“And what did Mother Teresa have in her arms? A crucifix? No. A child in need. So, we can find Jesus in each person who is in need,” he said.

After noting that very few children raised their hands when asked if they read the Gospel, Cardinal Bergoglio encouraged the children to say to their priests, “Father, teach me the Gospel.”

He also reminded them that the strength for encountering Jesus “is in the family, in mom and dad.” The cardinal then invited the children to stand up and give “a big round of applause to the Virgin Mary.”11


Regarding children, the Cardinal from Argentina has presided over so-called “Children’s Masses.” The subject of children will be a theme of Pope Francis’ pontificate as he seeks to heal Holy Mother Church and restore her credibility in the wake of the global sex abuse scandal.

Pope Francis, then Cardinal, riding public transport.


7. On Politics

According to St. Thomas Aquinas, politics is the “noble science,” the highest practical science constituted by human reason, and a moral science. Pope Francis spent a good deal of time in Argentina fighting against the modernist reforms of the government. Moreover, within the Church the spectre of liberation theologies that conflate Christ’s justice with Marxist principles was (and still is) a constant presence in Latin America. The Cardinal is reported to have rejected these views, as aforementioned in the On Poverty section.


“To those who are now promising to fix all your problems, I say, ‘Go and fix yourself.’ . . . Have a change of heart. Get to confession, before you need it even more! The current crisis will not be improved by magicians from outside the country and nor will [improvement] come from the golden mouth of our politicians, so accustomed to making incredible promises.”12


Listers, pray for Pope Francis and that he will hear God’s call to rebuild Christ’s Church.

  1. Full Text of Pope Francis’ first words as the Vicar of Christ. []
  2. Lifenews.com []
  3. Lifenews.com []
  4. Lifenews.com []
  5. Wikipedia: Pope Francis . Catechism of the Catholic Church Paragraph 2358 ^ InfoBae.com ^ Padgett, Tim (18 July 2010). “The Vatican and Women: Casting the First Stone”. TIME. Retrieved 13 March 2013. ^ Goñi, Uki (July 15, 2010). “Defying Church, Argentina Legalizes Gay Marriage”. Retrieved March 13, 2013. ^ Allen, Jr., John L. (March 3, 2013). “Papabile of the Day: The Men Who Could Be Pope”. National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved March 13, 2013. []
  6. Wikipedia: Pope Francis ^ “Extreme poverty is also a violation of human rights, says Argentinean cardinal”. Catholic News Agency. 1 October 2009. Retrieved 13 March 2013. ^ “Argentines protest against pay cuts”. August 8, 2001. Retrieved March 13, 2013. []
  7. CNA: Extreme poverty is also a violation of human rights, says Argentinean cardinal []
  8. Washington Times []
  9. LifeSiteNews.com []
  10. Sex Trafficking Quote – Source []
  11. CNA: Cardinal’s teaches to Children []
  12. First Things: Politics Quotes []
  • Ruth L.

    On women? Women holding political office?

    • JPF

      Ruth, The church is not, nor is it going to be against women holding political office. I grow tired of people that think the church is misogynistic just because it does not ordain women priests. I tire because it’s these same people who ignore the sacramental aspect of the priesthood and treat it like a job. Just because we didn’t mention your pet issue does not mean that the church is automatically against it.

  • Cheryl

    I love him. He is an absolute blessing to the Church.

  • Eric

    Just another bigoted old man who spent his life studying mythology and now feels the right to criticize the rest of humankind. Nothing different about him other than his hat is more expensive. Speaking of that, is he still going to opt for modest accommodations or will the rest of his days be spend occupying the marble and guided hallways of the vatican? Maybe the needle eyes are much bigger in Rome?

    • Mary

      I believe you are not a catholic! so your point of views are not important.
      God bless you always.

      • Chris

        You are a bigot, ma’am. Discarding another’s opinion because it does not match your own? You are the opposite of moral progression. Hear the man out, consider his side, and reflect upon your own views. Sowing disrespect for an honest opinion is unfathomably horrific.

      • Ciara

        I’m a Catholic, I love Pope Francis, and I disagree with Eric. But you cannot tell him his views are unimportant! He has the right to free speech, as do you. And you only mis-represent the Catholic Church who advocates always freedom of religion and the importance of each person in the eyes of God. Tell him why you think he’s wrong with love and compassion, tell him he’s recycling weak arguments heard a million times before, tell him he clearly is ignorant of all that the Catholic Church and Pope Francis are, and he shouldn’t believe everything Richard Dawkins says, tell him that sarcasm and snooty irony on a Catholic site gets him nowhere. But do not disrespect him and make yourself look foolish by telling him his views are unimportant.

    • Jonathan

      Would that be the kind of criticism for the rest of mankind that you seem to be demonstrating towards people of particular religious beliefs?

    • eric has shown his ignorance on the the chances that Pope Francis has made since he because Pope, his entire public appearance has been turned down quite a bit. He has also rejected the lavish lifestyle that has been afforded to his successors. There was no legitimate concern or question in his statement and he also proved not to even be a Catholic. Why is it any of your business how fellow Catholics have chosen to furnish the Vatican?? It’s not your money, it’s money that comes from faithful Catholics. You need to pick sides…..I’m so sick of the abhorrent disrespect show not only to this Pope but to his predecessors as well. The same folks that are the first to criticize need to come the conclusion that it is not their place to make baseless and absurd comments for decades now. Nothing you say have one iota of influence over the Catholic Church nor will it chance any of out beliefs that have stead the test of time and aren’t changing our doctrine at all. Btw, I’m one of those Catholics who non-believes, like this specimen of nothing but self-loathing and lies have convinced themselves that I just don’t exist. Why? because I have been following the teachings of the Church for my entire 30 yrs on this earth.

    • 1. Changed the golden throne by a wooden chair… Says it was more appropriate for the disciple of a carpenter.

      2. Did not want the gold-embroidered red stole, Heir of the Roman Empire, nor the red chasuble.

      3. Uses same old black shoes, not the classic red prada shoes. Which incidentally was the inspiration for the movie title, the Devil wore Prada.

      4. Uses a metal cross, not one of rubies and diamonds.

      5. His papal ring is silver, not gold.

      6. Uses the same black pants under the cassock, he says that it is to remember that he is a another priest.

      7. Removed the red carpet… His supporters say that he is not interested in fame and applause.

    • lovebroker

      Have you acquired more than they need? Then you are guilty of propagating poverty. No need to study mythology to grasp this! The marble guilded hallways and vast holding of the RCC are free for all to enjoy. Even a silly goose like you can enjoy the marble. Private property used for the common good. ( all humanity) what a noble concept.


    • Elizabeth

      You are the bigot here. Trolling a Catholic page. Crawl back under your rock & come out if you can be civil.

      • Phil

        Exactly right, Elizabeth! Liberalism is a mental disorder. They don’t care about the poor and minorities. They’re a means to an end, which is weakening minds and societies for assimilation. That doesn’t mean neo-cons are innocent, but they aren’t trying their damnest to legislate the rotting of people’s minds, especially kids’. Church teaching is like Christ’s: it comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable, but these aren’t necessarily those the media would have us thinking they are. If gays vote for those teaching kibdergarteners to masturbate and cut the health care plans of the elderly, and most do, they have no right to any privileges. A self-destructive bunch like them needs psychiatric help and definitely no children!

  • Teneo

    He is the change we have been waiting for!

  • Buster

    You’re a petty little man, Eric

  • Justin

    Not being a Catholic, I still have respect for a lot of what the church teaches. I agree with nearly everything written here, but I find his views on homosexuality to be extreme. This is exactly the sort of reaction that critics of the church will jump on and shout ‘bigotry! homophobia! hatespeech!’.

    I’m glad he speaks out against their persecution, but at the same time I can’t see how he can speak against their persecution while denying them equal rights with the rest of society.

    Like it or not, this is coming, and in many places it already has come. It can’t be ignored, it can’t be swept aside.

    That aside, I loved reading the rest of the article. I think the new pope is a good man and I wish him all the best in office. God watch over him.

    • Misha

      Justin, it is not hate-speech, or homophobia.. To understand the teachings of the Church, you will have to know Jesus’ teachings. The Church follow his teachings. God love us sinner, but God rebukes the sin. Jesus was clear with the prostitute. Don’t sin again, he said.. He didn’t say..I understand if you do it again. It is about repentance and having a contrite heart. Jesus died for us. Our goal is to be Holy.. Be Holy, says the Lord. God bless you.

  • Mark Hartman

    SPL staff, it is not “pursuit of equal rights for gays” that the new Pope condemns, as you misrepresent it. It is the pursuit of SPECIAL rights, such as the right to marry someone of the same sex, that is condemned – and rightly so – by the Church. If you want to be a Catholic voice in the world, stop sniping at our Pontiff.

  • Lillian

    This man is a kind hearted good to the core man who is perfect for a pope. He isn’t a strict mean catholic man. He is a passionate sweet man. He is obviously very knowledgeable. God bless him.

    • Lillian: Do you know him personally? Last time I checked no one knows anything about anyone unless they actually spend a great deal of time with them personally and even then we never really know anyone.

      He is a man with opinions and most of those opinions are based on what he believes as a man. He is not any more special than the rest of us. He is just a man with opinions. Marriage has nothing to do with love. it is a financial arrangement. People the love each other and want to help each other and others do that out of love. They don’t need to get married to do that. But if they want to they should be able to. Marriage is not the issue. If he is concerned about the impact is has anthropologically then he needs to to stop people from loving each other. That is what is really going on here. People like him think they know what is best for everyone else and believe they need to control everything and everyone. That is the problem.

  • Erickson

    I feel blessed just reading his honest and straightforward thinking. I hope and pray that God will protect His chosen one to renew and reform our Mother Church.

  • Chuck

    “Vice President Joseph R. Biden and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi both received Communion during the Mass to celebrate the installation of Pope Francis in spite of their pro-choice position on abortion.”


    Oh Well, at least the new Pope is big on talk, but he seems to lack the authority to get his own institution to follow his rules and the rules of Christianity. It was the same with the last few Popes, they can talk big, but they lack any inner strength to act upon what they say. The liberals are now all laughing at the weakened Church.

  • Chuck

    Seriously, If the Pope can’t control the important things in his own “house”, then he is obviously a weak man. I await the usual excuses from all the “bishops” that will cry out “we didn’t know Biden and Pelosi were pro-death.” which allows Catholics to go on aborting and supporting gay marriages like the rest of the secular society.

    I have to openly admit my disappointment with the new Pope being so weak from the very beginning of his administration. This suggests he will remain weak until he finally expires. Basically, there is no change in the Church.

    • Elizabeth

      Chuck, your doom & gloom is the prevalent take by orthodox or tradition minded Catholics. Seems the mainstream media & the neo-(or pseudo) Catholics are deliriously happy with him so far. I’m praying hard.

  • Chuck

    “Vice President Biden and Nancy Pelosi should certainly not receive Communion, either at the papal installation or anywhere else. Communion means ‘union,’ and they are not in union with the church on the most fundamental moral issue of the right to life,” said the Rev. Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life, a U.S.-based Catholic anti-abortion organization.

    He predicted a “public uproar” if they took Communion.


    “Meet the new Pope, same as the old Pope !!”

  • Chuck

    It’s amazing how little respect Biden and Pelosi have for the Pope …

    However, this blatant lack of respect will now be witnessed by all the liberal Cardinals, Bishops and Priests to influence the rest of the flock.

    Here in Maine, it was the change in the Catholic vote that passed gay marriage into law this time around. Without a Bishop, the priests did practically nothing to inform the laity to vote against gay marriage, so they believe the Catholic is actually supporting homosexuality.

    • lwr

      Not just the Catholic Vote Chuck, but evangelicals as well. However, the Catholic vote is huge in Maine.

  • Mick

    I’m curious about what Francis did in the past to address the priest sex abuse scandal in Argentina and in the world. Did he speak out against it and take action against it or help cover it up?

  • Elizabeth

    I appreciate this article. It’s somewhat reassuring. I’m still wonder why we continually need so much clarification & reassurances that our pope adheres to Catholic doctrine. The last 50 years have been too confusing for Catholics. 95% don’t even know their Faith.
    This crisis is ignored by Most Bishops & apparently social work is our Popes priority now. All a bit discouraging.

  • Rosa

    To those of you that want a change in the church; you’re dreaming! The church will always teach Jesus teachings and those are pretty straight forward. That’s why there are many other churches, they all want parishioners and will tend to their needs; but that is wrong teachings. The path to salvation is very narrow not open minded and “modern” like they call it now days.

  • I think Pope Francis is telling the world to have a conscience; bottom line.Mona