On Monday night during a celebration of carnival, which tradition holds marks the eve of the start of Lent, a drag queen celebration in Gran Canaria, the second most populous island in the Canary Islands, crowned a mocking representation of Jesus’ crucifixion, featuring a drag and tearful Virgin Mary accompanied by four Nazarenes, as best act.
Francisco Cases, bishop of the diocese of Canarias, where the Carnival of Las Palmas took place, lamented what he called the “blasphemous frivolity” of the Drag Queen Gala and questioned if everything is licit or if there are limits to freedom of expression when it’s offensive to many people.
“I’m living the saddest day of my stay in Canarias,” the bishop wrote in a statement. “My eyes were full of tears.” He even said that the show was for him more sad than the 2008 crash of a plane where 150 people died.
Cases also wondered “if there are no limits to the freedom of expression, if everything is licit in the festive manifestations because nothing is truth, if there are no resources for ending the blasphemous frivolity that offends so many citizens.”
He also wrote that the first thing he thought of was to ask forgiveness “to our savior and his blessed Mother” for the offenses, both for himself and for the many within the Christian community who “don’t give the rightful witness.”
The show organized by Drag Sethlas- whose real name is Borja Casillas- began to the tune of Madonna’s 1989 hit Like a Prayer, a song which at the time led Pope John Paul II to call for a boycott of Madonna’s concerts in Italy since the video clip, the Vatican believed, contained blasphemous use of Christian imaginary.
During the show, called “My darling! I don’t do miracles, may it be what God wants,” Drag Sethlas is first dressed like the Virgin Mary and eventually loses his outfit, adds a crown of thorns and pretends to be Jesus on the cross, while Madonna’s and Lady Gaga’s tunes are replaced by someone praying the Our Father.
Coming down from the cross, Drag Sethlas asks, “Do you want my forgiveness? Bend over and enjoy. Feel me in your mouth. Kneel down.”
The show was well received by the 6,000 people who were in attendance, who, through electronic voting, made Drag Sethlas the winner of the 20th edition of this drag queen festival.
In a radio interview given after the victory, the drag queen, presenting himself as Casillas, says he’s a teacher in primary school and that even though he’s agnostic, he’s studying to teach religion class in private and public schools.
Cases wasn’t the only bishop to raise his voice against the show.
Cardinal Ricardo Blázquez, president of the Spanish bishop’s conference, acknowledged the right to freedom of expression, but called for respect for “the religious sentiments” of Christians in Spain.
The spokesperson for the conference condemned the show through Twitter saying the “blasphemous acts” of the drag gala of the Carnival of las Palmas in Gran Canaria were “revolting.” In the tweet, he shared Cases’s statement.
Carlos Alonso, president of the Cabildo de Tenerife- a governmental figure of the Canary Islands – wrote in his Facebook account that the show had been an “offense.”
“Carnival is transgression, freedom that is spilled, incredible. But it must never be used to offend so much the values of so many people,” Alonso wrote. “Yesterday, in the Drag Queen Gala of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in the stellar moment there was no Carnival nor freedom, only offense.”
Bellow the full video of the presentation. Viewer discretion advised.