By SIMON ROMERO and EMILY SCHMALL
Argentina was on the verge of approving gay marriage, and theRoman 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.
The concession inflamed the gathering — and offers a telling insight into the leadership style he may now bring to the papacy.