Argentine Roman Catholic Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio felt trapped by the gay marriage debate.

Bergoglio drew international headlines when Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner blasted the church for calling the movement to legalize gay marriage the devil's handiwork.

Fernandez said such references were unproductive and a throw back to the Inquisition.

The gay marriage law, singed by Fernandez on Wednesday, makes Argentina the first Latin American country to legalize gay marriage. The first gay wedding is expected to take place in Mendoza on July 31.

Writing in a letter that called on followers to join an anti-gay marriage rally in the capital before lawmakers approved the legislation, Bergoglio said the bill was “a move by the Father of Lies which aims to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

“Let's not be naïve, we're not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God.”

He went on to say that the adoption of children by married gay couples – made legal by the bill – is discriminatory to children: “At stake are the lives of many children who'll be discriminated against in being deprived of the human growth that God wanted to be given through a father and a mother.”

People familiar with the cardinal say he felt trapped by the gay marriage debate, Argentine glossy Noticias reported.

“He has nothing against homosexuals or transvestites and has never discriminated against them in his pastoral duties,” said a confidant.

They say Bergoglio became trapped between the government and its rival Hector Aguer, the conservative archbishop of La Plata, and reacted as a “soldier of God.”

After taking a very public stand on the issue, Bergoglio has retreated into silence.