News broke today that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been named the leader of the Catholic Church. Pope Francis, as he is now known, is now at the healm of a faith whose worldwide membership is roughly 1.2 billion people, details a March 13 report from National Public Radio.
The announcement that Cardinal Bergoglio would become Pope Francis came as a surprise to many and as a displeasure to some, namely those in the LGBT community. Pope Francis' appointment doesn't bode well for the expansion of gay rights within the Catholic church. A known conservative, Pope Francis is decidedly against gay marriage and abortion. What's more, he's referred to gay adoption as "a form of discrimination against children." For the thousands of gay parents who adopt children each year, Pope Francis' appointment is less than ideal.
What's more, the news of Pope Francis' appointment comes in the midst of a heated, nationwide debate on gay marriage in the U.S. State-specific cases challenging gay marriage bans are ongoing, including a prominent Michigan case involving two adoptive parents. Other states, including Minnesota, are considering proposed legislation to legalize gay marriage. Finally, rulings in two high-profile national cases are forthcoming, namely a Supreme Court case on gay marriage and the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Pope Francis' installation likely won't impact the current legislation, but it will ensure that gay marriage and LGBT rights remain politically and emotionally charged topics.