Mexican Bishop Calls Homophobia a “Mental Illness”

A Mexican Catholic bishop who has been a strong supporter of LGBT issues has declared that homophobia is a “mental illness.”  Is that really an accurate classification?

The Billerico Project is reporting on an interview given by Bishop Jose Raul Vera Lopez to a television show, “Terra Mexico,” in which he stated:

“Why would I immediately think a gay or lesbian person is perverse or depraved the moment they approach me? That’s how people who are homophobic react. It’s a mental illness in which you see gays as depraved and promiscuous. You have to be sick in the head for that.”

Bishop Vera Lopez, who is the head of the Diocese of Saltillo, Mexico,   You can view a two and a half minute  video clip from the interview complete with English subtitles here:

Here are some other notable quotations from the interview in regard to lesbian and gay people:

“They are human beings and deserve respect.  The Holy Father knows it’s a. . . .I am certain he knows because the reality is that many in the church do not want to acknowledge the scientific reality on the issue of sexuality.  They want to keep homosexuality as a form of human perversion, an illness.  But that is no longer the case, scientifically speaking. “

Bishop Vera Lopez also commented on Scripture citations which seem to condemn gay and lesbian persons:

“We just have to read the Bible more carefully within a historical context and within a real context.  The Biblical texts we have used to bash the heads of homosexuals to say they are condemned by the Bible?  We have to read them much more carefully.”

Bishop Jose Raul Vera Lopez

Bishop Jose Raul Vera Lopez

It is wonderful to know that this bishop is speaking out so strongly for lesbian and gay rights.  One caution:  I don’t think that he was using “mental illness” as a technical or clinical term.  From the manner in which he is speaking on the video, he seems to be using it as a rhetorical flourish, more than a diagnosis.  It is interesting to see him turn the tables on homophobic people:  it is usually they who are calling lesbian and gay people “mentally ill.”

And because lesbian and gay people have so often been so mislabeled with that diagnosis, I think we have to be very careful of labeling their opponents in the same way.  In my experience in working with LGBT issues, homophobia is more often a result of ignorance and misguided piety than by a clinical disturbance.

Another comment worth noting is that during the interview, Bishop Vera Lopez discusses the genesis of sexual orientation as being a result of hormonal influences in the womb.  With all due respect to the bishop, while that is one theory, it is still simply a theory, and not totally conclusive as the effective cause of one’s homosexuality.  The scientific community is still debating various theories as to the origin of sexual orientation in an individual.

Despite these cautions, I am delighted to read these statements from this courageous bishop.  Our church needs more leaders like him who are willing to approach LGBT issues from a knowledgeable and compassionate perspective.

Bishop Vera Lopez has spoken out many times before on lesbian and gay equality.  In fact, he was even summoned to the Vatican to defend his point of view, but no sanctions were administered to him.  You can read more about him in an article that appears on page three of this PDF of the newsletter version of Bondings.   You can also read more about other social issues with which this Nobel Peace Prize nominee is associated by clicking here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

 

6 replies
  1. Lydia Lombardo
    Lydia Lombardo says:

    A lot of the church and its people have come a long way. When I attended Mundelein, a Catholic Women’s College, in the 1970s, my English/Communication advisor was Lesbian. Because I was close with her and was editor of the Annual Literary Magazine, of which she was advisor, I was thought to be Lesbian also and shunned and not invited to individual senior parties. I was in my 40s, a returning college student with 7 children, and the mere association was enough to ostracize me. I survived, but when I recall the situation, I shake my head. She was faculty, and the other communication students had to associate with her, so I became a scapegoat. I survived, but I hope the irony of this hits home.

    Reply
    • duckman44625
      duckman44625 says:

      I, too, shook my head when in 2008, in my fifth year of a Catholic deacon program (having come out to wife and family) was assaulted by my homophobic son (age 24…accused falsely of sexual affair with a friend) after class – on church grounds – was promptly declared as not able to “formed” further for ordination in one year. This occurred 2 days after a canonical vote declared that I should be ordained. But I was a “problem” – needed to be dealt with. Hence I was dismissed on the recommendation of my closeted pastor and diaconate director (though closeted – was known to every bath house/spa in our area). Definitely an irony which still plagues me. We can empathize on the injustice done both of us. Namaste

      Reply
  2. duckman44625
    duckman44625 says:

    Homophobia as a form of mental illness…perhaps not in the psychological scientific sense…but rather an unhealthy learned attitude resulting from the teaching of such by adults who rear, interact with youth from a young age. Children learn all things from observation of adults reactions. They love because they are loved…they become sociopathic, on the other hand from a lack of nurturing love. One of the most prominent teachers of homophobic hatred is the Church…for they teach of the sinfulness of homosexuals. Despite the convoluted thinking which they propose, namely, that homosexuality is not sinful…but the sexual expression is “sinful” between hetero or homosexuals…people are taught hatred. Quite frankly, it is my belief that our Heavenly Father is more concerned with the love expressed than with a physical act. Really don’t pay any mind to the Church’s teaching in this arena except that it causes unnecessary suffering for us as gay persons. As a father, I was horrified at the SINFULNESS of the Church hierarchy in dealing with our children during the pedophilia crisis…the Bishops/Pontiff concerned more with preservation of financial standing and appearances than our victimized children. When Virtus training was started for laity involved with children in religious training/sports/education, I asked my Pastor what training was being required of the clergy. He looked at me puzzled, replying “Do you think that is necessary”? No further words are needed. Except my Catholic “guilt” went out the window along with my high unquestioning respect for any clergy at that moment.

    Reply

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  1. […] Bishop Vera Lopez has previously made headlines for his support of lesbian and gay people, even calling homophobia a mental illness at one point. Banderas News reports […]

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