VALENCIA (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Spanish cardinal accused of "hate speech" by militant feminist organizations has been cleared of all charges.
In a decision Thursday, a judge with the Valencian Magistrate's Court ruled Cdl. Antonio Cañizares was exercising his right to freedom of expression when delivering a homily decrying the "gay empire" and gender ideology, in addition to defending the family. The charges had initially been filed in early June by activist group Feminist Platform of Alicante, in addition to 55 other pro-LGBT organizations, alleging the prelate's speech, read at Mass on the eve of the International Day Against Lesbophobia, Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, was "full of hatred, homophobic and sexist" and aimed at inciting "hatred against those who do not enter or fit into the archaic models defended by the Catholic hierarchy."
In Thursday's ruling, however, the magistrate declared "tolerance with all kinds of ideas, that is imposed by ... freedom of expression, does not mean condescension, acceptance or understanding, but only that ideas, as such, should not be prosecuted criminally."
Additionally, the judge remarked, the court is required to "avoid subjecting a person to criminal proceedings on the basis of complaints or on facts that manifestly do not constitute a criminal offense."
The May 13 homily had been spurred on by a recent push within Valencia via "upcoming legislation" furthering gender ideology.
"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," the cardinal 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."
He called on Catholics to give witness to the fact that "human reality cannot be justified without reference to the Creator." This action, he declared, "is what destroys the most insidious and destructive ideology ... which seeks to impose global powers more or less covertly with iniquitous laws" that no Catholic is to obey.
Speaking directly to Valencians, the cardinal urged legislators not to be "spearheading the implementation of such insidious ideology."
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.
"Stop harassing the Church and respect freedom of religion," he told the activists.
The case against Cdl. Cañizares had been officially opened June 14 by the Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Valencia. Among the other Spanish organizations that had joined the prosecution was the Spanish Network of Help to Refugees, which stated the cardinal "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."
The cardinal also made headlines recently for fighting against an advertisement commissioned by gay activist group Endavant that displayed a gratuitous image of Our Lady of the Abandoned, patroness of Valencia in eastern Spain, and Our Lady of Monserrat, patroness of Catalonia, kissing on the lips. The image, intended to promote a gay pride parade to be held in Valencia on June 18, features the caption: "Against Holy Oppression, Love As You Want."
Cardinal Cañizares maintained both he and Bp. Esteban Escudero, auxiliary bishop of Valencia, "energetically" rejected the "unfair and gratuitous ... desecration."
The cardinal also urged Spanish Catholics to protest the "serious expression of intolerance and lack of respect for the religious beliefs of thousands of Valencians" by praying the Rosary and attending a Mass of Reparation.
Endavant has since admitted the image was produced in response to Cdl. Cañizares' May 13 homily.