Bergoglio Backed Gay Civil Unions Compromise offer shocked Argentine bishops By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Mar 20, 2013 4:36 AM CDT Updated Mar 20, 2013 6:12 AM CDT 66 comments Comments In this Aug. 7, 2009 photo, the then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio gives a Mass in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko) (Newser) – Pope Francis has made some uncompromising statements on issues like gay marriage but he also has a strong pragmatic streak that could hint at changes to come for the Catholic church, the New York Times finds. As the church in Argentina fought to prevent the legalization of gay marriage in 2010, the then-Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio startled bishops with a proposal for the church to approve civil unions for gay couples. Bergoglio—whose proposal was overruled—put forth the idea as the "lesser of two evils," his authorized biographer says. "He wagered on a position of greater dialogue with society." The cardinal publicly denounced the gay marriage bill as a "destructive pretension against the plan of God," but "he listened to my views with a great deal of respect," says a gay rights leader and theologian who received a swift response to a letter of complaint. "He told me that homosexuals need to have recognized rights and that he supported civil unions, but not same-sex marriage."