Pope Francis

The conclave has selected a pontiff likely to follow in the footsteps of his recent predecessors Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI as a vocal defender of life and family. On the fifth ballot on the second day of the gathering of the cardinals in the Vatican, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was selected the next head of the Roman Catholic Church. He chose Francis as his pontifical name after Francis of Assisi.

As the head of the archdiocese of Buenos Aires in Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio repeatedly spoke out against abortion, euthanasia, and same-sex “marriage” in both cultural and political terms.

In 2007, on behalf of the bishops of Latin America, Cardinal Bergoglio presented the “Aparecida Document” regarding the situation of the Church in their countries. The document, approved by Pope Benedict XVI in July of that year, made a very clear statement regarding the consequences of supporting abortion, disallowing holy communion for anyone who facilitates an abortion, including politicians. The document states that “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.”

Also in 2007, he gave a speech to a gathering of priests, defending life even in cases of rape, saying: “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.”

In his archdiocese, Cardinal Bergoglio promoted a special blessing for mothers and their unborn children. On his second day of his papacy, Pope Francis blessed a five-month pregnant woman at a basilica in Rome, sending a clear signal about the humanity of the child in the womb.

Nicholas Lafferriere, head of Argentina’s Center for Bioethics, Person and Family, told LifeSiteNews.com, “those of us who work for life and family in Argentina have always felt ourselves to be supported and promoted by Cardinal Bergoglio.”

Cardinal Bergoglio has also condemned euthanasia, denouncing a “culture of discarding regarding the elderly, which treats them as if they are disposable and worthless due to their advanced age.” In 2011, he spoke out against all assaults on life and prayed for the protection of “life from the time they are waiting (to be born) until they take their last breathe along the way.”

In 2009, Cardinal Bergoglio encouraged his priests and parishioners to “protest against homosexual ‘marriage’,” which the government of President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had been pushing. In a letter to priests, he said: “Let’s not be naive, 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 said the government’s plan to redefine marriage called into question “the identity, and the survival of the family: father, mother, and children.” Fernandez scoffed at the prelate’s reaction, calling him medieval.

Despite his opposition to same-sex “marriage” the new pontiff is considered compassionate toward homosexuals as evidenced by visits to hospices catering to AIDS patients.

Cardinal Bergoglio also condemned a plan by the Argentine government to distribute subsidized contraception and to pay for artificial insemination, although both, like same-sex “marriage” were ultimately enacted.

Peter Murphy, assistant director of the Catholic Organization For Life and Family, said that his organization “rejoices” in the election of Pope Francis, telling LifeSiteNews: “This is a man who is in love with God – a man who, as Archbishop and Cardinal, elected to live simply and in solidarity with the poor; a man who knows that the value of human life is derived not from what we possess, or what we don’t, but rather from the fact that we have been created in God’s image, that we have been redeemed at the cost of Christ’s blood and that we are destined to live with God for all eternity.”

Leading up to the conclave, many reporters and commentators in the secular press speculated that the cardinals may have chosen a pope who would liberalize Catholic teaching on abortion, contraception, and homosexuality.

Mary Ellen Douglas, national organizer of Campaign Life Coalition, told The Interim, she was “very pleased but not surprised” that the conclave selected a new pope “that, like his predecessors, upholds Catholic teaching on moral issues.”

 Parts of this article originally appeared in LifeSiteNews.com stories and are used with permission.