Already under fire for alleged homophobia on the basis of denouncing the influence of a “gay empire,” a Spanish cardinal nevertheless came out swinging when a recent LGTB pride parade campaign 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.
Accompanying the image, there’s a message in Valencian which reads: “Against the holy oppression, love as you want,” inviting people to participate in the June 18 parade. The campaign was created by Edevant, an extreme-left organization.
According to Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Valencia, the image “deeply hurts the feelings of Valencia’s Catholics and of all men and women of goodwill.”
In the statement, read by Cañizares at Sunday’s Mass, he said that together with his auxiliary bishop, Bishop Esteban Escudero, they “energetically” rejected the “desecration,” calling it “unfair and gratuitous.”
The two are calling for Catholics of Valencia to join them in praying the rosary and attending a reparation Mass on Thursday afternoon.
They are also calling for Catholic universities, schools, parishes and “all citizens wishing for peaceful coexistence and respect for the convictions of all” to join the act of reparation and to protest this “serious expression of intolerance and lack of respect for the religious beliefs of thousands of Valencians.”
On Wednesday, the Spanish Bishops Conference released a statement supporting Cañizares’s reparation Mass. They refer to the Edevant campaign as “blasphemous,” saying it’s “yet another episode in a spiral that attempts against the legitimate exercise of religious freedom, as to the freedom to preach the Gospel in a plural society.”
That same day, Edevant released a statement saying that they knew the campaign would cause the uproar of the Catholic hierarchy because “the freedom transmitted by the sign’s image reveals the obscurity and hatred they transmit.”
In their statement, the organization says they “hit the nail” with the picture, and acknowledges they decided on this image specifically as an echo against Cañizares “who signaled the ‘gay empire’ as a social threat.”
The entity explains that it was because of the cardinal’s comments that they decided to use the LGTB parade to “denounce the role of the Church’s hierarchy as a propagator of hatred against gay people.”
Seeing the controversy generated by the campaign, the Association GayValencia LGTB released a statement saying they weren’t involved in it, and that it doesn’t correspond with the official motto of this year’s pride parade: “Bisexual people, diverse and equal.”
In the statement, released through social media, GayValencia also said that they would denounce “homophobia and LGTBphobia, or any hate crimes committed by all people, independently of their race, sex or religion,” in what seemed a clear message to Cañizares.
On May 13, while he celebrated a Mass in a center for the family, Cañizares denounced a “gay empire.”
“The family is haunted today, in our culture, by an endless threat of serious difficulties, and this is not hidden from anyone,” Cañizares said.
“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.
The Spanish Network of Help to Refugees has filed a complaint against Cañizares for his remarks, adding ones he made last year regarding the migrants arriving to Europe.
In October, after an ISIS spokesman said the terrorist Islamic organization had infiltrated the migrant boats leaving Africa and Turkey towards Europe, he asked if all those arriving were “clean wheat” or if some of them could be possible “Trojan horses.”
His concern, however, didn’t deter the work of the Archdiocese of Valencia with refugees: The Church gave food, shelter, and helped meet the urgent material needs of over 50,000 refugees in 2015.
On Tuesday prosecutors have announced they’re going forward with the investigation for “hate crime,” and now have six months to determine if Cañizares’s homily, which defended Catholic teaching on family and echoed Pope Francis’ own concern over gender theory, constitutes a “violent behavior motivated by prejudice”.
The Argentine pontiff has spoken against what he calls “gender ideology” in several opportunities, once even comparing it with nuclear weapons, saying these theories don’t “recognize the order of creation.”
Gender theorists say that people should be able to identify as male, female, in-between, neither or both, and discourage the stereotypical gender-based divisions, such as dolls for girls and trucks for boys.
In the meantime, the leftist governing coalition Compromís-Podemos-EUPV-A Valencia said on Monday that society will only be just when “we respect all people, regardless of their sexuality, gender, religion or ideology.”
The coalition proposed the adoption of a law protecting “effective equality,” including a body to monitor compliance to the law and a system of punishment in case it’s broken. The proposed bill wants for schools, regardless of their religious background, to teach children that “gender is fluid” and that one can choose to be a man or a woman.
Institutions that don’t comply would be fined, and parents wouldn’t have the power to tell their children not to have a sex-reorientation surgery if they chose to have one.
According to a report from Spain’s Ministry of Interior, “hate crimes” are expressions that “spread, incite, promote or justify racial hatred, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and any other forms of hatred based on intolerance, including intolerance expressed in the form of aggressive nationalism and ethnocentrism, discrimination and hostility against minorities and immigrants.”
Spain, generally considered one of the world’s most gay-friendly nations, has had anti-discrimination laws including penalties for “hate speech” since 1997.
Yet in 2015, during a manifestation in Madrid against gender violence which included the presence of several top politicians such as Manuela Carmena, mayor of the Spanish capital, the most popular chant was, “We’re going to burn down the bishops’ conference for [being] chauvinistic and patriarchal,” yet no action was taken for hate speech or inciting violence on that occasion.
During Holy Week in 2014, a group of women organized a procession for the “holy un-submissive vagina,” with direct calls against the Church’s “submissive” teachings, parading a gigantic vagina through the streets of Sevilla.
Spain’s association of Christian Lawyers filed a complaint against them, describing it as a crime against religious sentiments and for provoking discrimination, hatred and violence for religious reasons.
Yet last week a judge dismissed the case, saying it doesn’t constitute a crime because the three women responsible for the parade didn’t mean to “humiliate or wound” religious feelings but to “exteriorize opinions contrary to the Catholic Church.”