When Argentina was on the verge of legalizing gay marriage in 2010, Pope Francis — then Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires — suggested the church support civil unions, according to news reports published at the time.
“We don’t have a fanatic vision,” his spokesman, Federico Wals, told Argentina’s Infonews in 2010. “What we are asking is that the laws are respected. We believe that we must propose more comprehensive civil union rights than currently exist, but no gay marriage.”
Faced with the likelihood that gay marriage would be legalized, Bergoglio, then head of the Argentina Bishop’s Conference, suggested during a meeting with bishops in 2010 that the church support civil unions in the country. The idea was rebuked by the bishops, Pope Francis’ authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin, told the Associated Press. Link
The very idea was anathema to many of the bishops in the room. Argentina was on the verge of approving gay marriage, and the Roman Catholic Church was desperate to stop that from happening. It would lead tens of thousands of its followers in protest on the streets of Buenos Aires and publicly condemn the proposed law, a direct threat to church teaching, as the work of the devil.
But behind the scenes, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who led the public charge against the measure, spoke out in a heated meeting of bishops in 2010 and advocated a highly unorthodox solution: that the church in Argentina support the idea of civil unions for gay couples. Link
On February 25 2010
Not only the Argentinian newspaper-Clarin but many others Spanish webpages reported the same news:
[TRANSLATION]: From the private meeting with the newspaper la Nacion they said: "Our position is not religious, discriminatory or fundamentalist, but merely legalistic..."
Desde el entorno privado del arzobispo dijeron a LA NACION: "Nuestra postura no es religiosa, discriminatoria ni fundamentalista, sino puramente legalista...".