Pope Francis' authorized biographer and an Argentine gay rights activist claim the new pope once supported civil unions.

In 2010, as Argentina debated a gay marriage bill, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, publicly condemned the measure, calling it the “Devil's handiwork” and “a destructive attack on God's plan.”

But biographer Sergio Rubin told The New York Times on Wednesday that Bergoglio wanted the Roman Catholic church to back civil unions as a “lesser of two evils” compromise.

However, Bergoglio's compromise was shot down by a majority of bishops.

Marcelo Marquez, a gay rights leader and a former theology professor at a Catholic seminary, said he reached out to Bergoglio and what the cardinal told him left him in shock.

“He told me. … 'I'm in favor of gay rights and in any case, I also favor civil unions for homosexuals, but I believe that Argentina is not yet ready for a gay marriage law,” Marquez said.

Appearing on CNN, Father Edward Beck, the host of The Sunday Mass, said Bergoglio “wanted to respect human rights. That's the real surprise here, that people say, 'He's anti-gay.' You can be anti-gay marriage and not be anti-gay. … He's really moderate in this issue it seems.”