VALENCIA (ChurchMilitant.com) - Criminal proceedings are being initiated in the case of a Spanish cardinal accused of inciting "hate crimes" in a homily decrying the "gay empire" and gender ideology and defending the family.
The case against Cdl. Antonio Cañizares, archbishop of Valencia, was officially opened Tuesday by the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Valencia, for alleged "hate speech." The proceedings stem from an official complaint filed in early June by activist group Feminist Platform of Alicante, in addition to the LGBT Collective of Valencia and the Collective for Sexual-Affective Diversity.
Feminists are "fed up with the impunity of the leaders of the Church," declared Yolanda Díaz, coordinator for the Feminist Platform of Alicante. She argued Church hierarchy pushes "gender stereotypes that cause discrimination" and stated she hoped the prosecution would not accept a mere apology from the cardinal. Feminists were oppressed for challenging the "heteronormative family," Díaz claimed, and fighting for "equality between men and women." Therefore, she concluded, "we ask the administration and the prosecutor's office not to leave those comments unpunished."
The comments in question were part of a homily delivered by the prelate on May 13 in which he condemned attacks on the family. "We have legislation contrary to the family, the acts of political and social forces, to which are added movements and acts by the gay empire, by ideologies such as radical feminism, or the most insidious of all, gender ideology," he declared. "The family is being stalked today, in our culture, by endlessly grave difficulties, while it suffers serious attacks, which are hidden from no one. ... When the family is attacked or is diminished, the most sacred forms of human relationship are perverted."
The homily was read in a Mass celebrated at the Catholic University of Valencia the night before the International Day Against Lesbophobia, Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, and was spurred on by a recent push within Valencia via "upcoming legislation" furthering gender ideology. "Valencia does not deserve that," he lamented. "It cannot be spearheading the implementation of such insidious ideology."
Following the outcry by the activist organizations, the cardinal offered an apology if his sermon had "hurt or bothered anyone," but the feminists refused to accept it, claiming his speech was "full of hatred, homophobic and sexist" and sought to "incite hatred against those who do not enter or fit into the archaic models defended by the Catholic hierarchy."
Since the initial claim was filed, 55 pro-LGBT organizations have joined the prosecution against Cdl. Cañizares, who previously served as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.
The Spanish Network of Help to Refugees, which took offense at the cardinal's comments decrying open-door immigration in Europe, stated that he "is an ultra-conservative trying to subvert the constitutional order" and argued that he seeks to bring society back to a time "when immigrants, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals and women were subjected to the dictates of a society governed by the powers of the Catholic Church."
Shortly following the announcement from the Feminist Platform of Alicante, the cardinal released a statement questioning if it was "homophobic to defend the family" and encouraged "objective" lawyers to examine his homily, which has since been made public, and determine if the content runs contrary to law.
"The censure and condemnation suffered by me in part of the media, by certain groups and certain politicians, remind one of periods of our history, but which are still recent, in which they censured and condemned certain homilies and certain preachers," the cardinal concluded.
Reports claim Cdl. Cañizares was recently in Rome and had a private meeting with Pope Francis, who purportedly encouraged him and urged him to stand firm.