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The politics of Pope Francis

The Catholic church has a new Pope -- the man previously known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

Newly elected Pope Francis I speaks to the waiting crowd from the central balcony of St Peter's Basilica on March 13, 2013. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

There's tons of great stuff out there about the Argentine, who will go by Pope Francis and is the first Jesuit ever to serve as pope. But, we wanted to know what he has said about some of the hot-button political issues of the day. So, here's a rundown of his known political positions:

* Same-sex marriage: Don't expect any change in policy here. Bergoglio opposes gay marriage and thinks gay adoption discriminates against children. He clashed with Argentine President President Cristina Fernández over the country's legalization of same-sex unions, calling it "a move by the father of lies to confuse and deceive the children of God."

However, Francis has preached respect towards homosexuals. "It should be understood that when we express our doctrines around sexual conduct, we do so within the standard truth we believe, but never without an attitude of respect and understanding toward individuals," he said in 2003 after church buildings were vandalized during a gay pride parade.

* Abortion and contraception. See above. "He's as uncompromising as Pope John Paul II, in terms of the principles of the Church -- everything it has defended regarding euthanasia, the death penalty, abortion, the right to life, human rights, celibacy of priests," Monsignor Osvaldo Musto told the BBC in 2005. Francis has criticized church leaders who would not baptize a child born out of wedlock.

* Economics: Francis rejected the "liberation theology" movement in Latin America. But he has a progressive record on economic issues, making poverty a central concern in the church. Wonkblog notes that the Argentinean church fought austerity policies and called for debt restructuring that prioritized social programs over debt payments. Francis' official biographer describes him as a critic of neoloiberalism and the International Monetary Fund. Global economic leaders, he has said, "don't take into account poverty, the lack of education, not even the suffering of the elderly." He has denounced the conditions migrant workers endure as a form of slavery. He lives a modest lifestyle and frequently travels to poor neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.

* Freedom of speech: Francis thinks some art does not deserve to be shown. He successfully helped shut down an exhibit of works by Argentinian artist Leon Ferrari that showed Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary and Catholic saints in unusual settings, like a blender and a frying pan. Francis deemed the exhibit "blasphemous" and called for a day of reparation in response.

* Human rights: Some critics allege that Francis was complicit with Argentina's military brutal right-wing dictatorship in the 1970s and 80s. But defenders say he helped many dissidents escape.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.



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Sean Sullivan · March 14, 2013

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