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In West Hollywood, Pope Francis' stand on gays is unimpressive

March 14, 2013 | 12:14 pm

For Giancarlo Urey, a 29-year-old lawyer who spent the day in West Hollywood when Pope Francis was named to the papacy, the new leader's anti-gay stance is not a good sign.

Like his predecessor in the Vatican, Francis is equally committed to conservative, traditional doctrine, people who know him say, a sensibility fostered in part by his theological studies in Germany.

He was a staunch opponent of abortion and same-sex marriage, issues that an increasingly secular Argentina has embraced. He once said allowing gay couples to adopt constituted discrimination of the children.

PHOTOS: A new pope is chosen

"I think it's just another reminder that the Catholic Church doesn't progress with the times," said Urey, who is gay.

Urey, who was raised Baptist and lives downtown, said he doesn't expect the sentiment to change anytime soon.

"I'm not hopeful that as an institution it will turn around," he said. "But I hope individuals will open their eyes. There's always hope."

FULL COVERAGE: The papal conclave    

Urey, who has Bolivian and Guatemalan roots, said he doesn't think the selection of an Argentine pope is too surprising considering the prevalence of Catholicism in Spanish-speaking countries.

And in many ways, he said, an Argentine pope isn't that much of a change.

"I'm not impressed, I'm not excited," said Urey, who called Argentina "about as European as you can get."

INTERACTIVE: Choosing a new pope

Before he was pope, as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis reportedly described gay marriage as the work of the devil and a “destructive attack on God’s plan.” He has also said that gay adoption is a form of discrimination against children.

In 2010, Francis championed against a bill for same-sex marriage and gay adoption, according to the National Catholic Register.

“[T]he Argentine people will face a situation whose outcome can seriously harm the family," he wrote to the four monasteries in Argentina. "At stake is the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”

He went on to describe it as a " ‘move’ of the Father of Lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God" and asked for lawmakers to "not act in error." In the Bible, the Father of Lies is the devil.

"In his life, Jesus condemned gays zero times," GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement. "In Pope Benedict's short time in the papacy, he made a priority of condemning gay people routinely.

"We hope this pope will trade in his red shoes for a pair of sandals and spend a lot less time condemning and a lot more time foot-washing," he continued.

Said Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill of the new pope's election: ‘We hope Pope Francis shows more Christian love and charity to the world’s 420 million lesbian, gay and bisexual people than his predecessor."

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-- Marisa Gerber in West Hollywood

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