Gay rights advocates have responded to the election of Pope Francis, the first non-European pope in the Roman Catholic Church's history.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now known as Pope Francis, strongly opposed allowing gay and lesbian couples the right to marry and adopt children in his home country of Argentina.

(Related: New Pope Jorge Bergoglio once called gay marriage devil's handiwork.)

“We congratulate Pope Francis in his new position as leader for the Roman Catholic Church,” Dr. Sharon Groves, director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Religion and Faith Program, said in a statement. “As Pope, he has enormous power to be a source of spiritual healing for millions around the world. But for him to be the best kind of spiritual leader, he must acknowledge the signs of the times and embrace LGBT people as worthy of dignity and respect. American lay Catholics are fully supportive of equality, even more so than the broader population. The new Pope should follow the virtuous lead of his flock.”

(Related: Majority of Catholics support gay marriage.)

“We hope the new Pope understands the time for religious-based bigotry is not only over, but must be denounced. Demonizing LGBT people and their families from this powerful platform not only fails to keep faith with the most charitable principles of Catholic teachings and the Jesuit tradition of caring for the marginalized, but it does real psychological damage to millions of LGBT people around the world.”

GLAAD President Herndon Graddick had harsher words for Pope Francis.

“The National Catholic reporter said Pope Francis called adoption by gay and lesbian people a form of discrimination against children,” Graddick said in a statement. “The real discrimination against children is the pedophilia that has run rampant in the Catholic Church with little more than collusion from the Vatican.”