ROME—A judge in Spain ruled on Thursday that a cardinal denouncing an attack against the Christian family by a “gay empire” was not, simply by virtue of using that language, committing a hate speech crime but exercising his right to freedom of expression.

The criminal proceedings against Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Valencia were dismissed without further investigation because the magistrate saw no “criminal intent” nor an appeal to “hatred and violence” in the homily delivered by the prelate on May 13.

“The family is haunted today, in our culture, by an endless threat of serious difficulties, and this is not hidden from anyone,” Cañizares had said in his homily.

“We have legislation contrary to the family, the action of political and social forces, with added movements and actions of the gay empire, of ideas such as radical feminism, or the most insidious of all, gender theory,” he added.

For many in the Church hierarchy, included Pope Francis, the term “gender theory” is used to describe the ideas of some scientists and cultural critics who argue that sexual differences between men and women are socially constructed rather than given in nature.

The criminal complaint dismissed on Thursday had been filed by The Spanish Network of Help to Refugees, that also accused Cañizares of xenophobia for questioning if all the immigrants arriving to Spain were “clean wheat.”

A second process, started by the Valencian LGBT association Lambda together with 55 other organizations, has also been dismissed.

Lambda had filed the criminal complaint on June 3, denouncing Cañizares homily of being “words full of hatred, homophobic, and chauvinistic, that do nothing else but incite hatred against those who don’t fit the archaic models defended by the Catholic hierarchy.”

Through an open letter published in the diocesan website, the cardinal had defended himself saying that his not “homophobic, xenophobic nor sexist,” adding that he respects every person without excluding anyone. He also apologized for the words that “might have hurt some” asking also for reciprocity.

“Stop harassing the Church and respect freedom of religion,” he wrote.

Last week, and with the full support of the Spanish Bishop’s Conference, Cañizares led thousands in an “act of reparation” for an invitation to Valencia’s gay parade that depicted an interracial couple of kissing Madonnas.

The image, distributed through social media, shows Our Lady of the Forsaken (patroness of Valencia in Spain) and the dark-skinned Our Lady of Monserrat (patroness of Catalonia), kissing.

Among those criticizing the depiction was Lambda, that released a statement saying that “to be respected, you have to show respect.”

Although he didn’t mention anyone by name, Cañizares did thank those who “giving voice to their diversity, condemned this offence because it doesn’t represent them.”