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Pope Francis has critics, controversy

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pope Francis does not come to hold the keys of St. Peter without some controversy and in Argentina he had his share of critics and detractors.

As with presidents-elect, popes always have critics on their coattails, if for no other reason that the very public lives they have led as cardinals and archbishops. Francis leaves a trail of the detractors in Argentina where he led the Roman Catholic Church of Buenos Aires since 1998.

From his handling of church-sex abuse cases to his gay marriage opposition to alleged ties with military extremists, the incoming pope has had to deflect a series of controversies.

Bergoglio was appointed auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in 1992 and archbishop in '98.

But his rise as a Latin American leader began during the violent Argentinian military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983.

For years his critics in Buenos Aires questioned the extent of his knowledge about the disappearance of 30,000 leftists believed to have been killed.

Among the cases linked to Cardinal Bergoglio: The abduction of two Jesuit priests that the military junta secretly jailed because they worked in poor neighborhoods.

Bergoglio's defenders dispute that he had any role in the abduction, saying there is no proof and maintain the future pope actually helped many dissidents escape military rule.

As a cardinal who took public transit, made his own meals and shunned luxury-any role ignoring the downtrodden would seem out of place.

Bergoglio's most recent controversy was his vigorous 2010 challenge to Argentine legislation allowing gay marriage, a law the eventually passed.

In Rome, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan talked about Bergoglio's strong points.

"He's a man of confidence and poise, but that's also blended with a beautiful sincerity and simplicity and humility," Cardinal Dolan said.

According to the new pope, in an interview last year he singled out the worst vice on earth:

"Vanity, showing off" he said "is an attitude that reduces spirituality to a worldly thing, which is the worst sin that could be committed in the church."

The would-be pope says he often uses a peacock to illustrate the sin of vanity. The peacock, he says, is beautiful if you look at it from the front. but if you look at it from behind, he says, you discover the truth.

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