Reconciliation Desperately Needed Between Spanish Cardinal and LGBT Community

Cardinal Antonio Cañizares

The latest place where reconciliation between the Catholic hierarchy and the LGBT community is desperately needed is Valencia, Spain, where the two groups are coming to legal loggerheads over negative comments the cardinal of that city made about LGBT people and family.

Crux reports that a group of LGBT and women’s organizations have threatened to file a “hate crime” complaint against Cardinal Antonio Cañizares for remarks he made in a homily at the University of Valencia:

“In his remarks, titled ‘In defense and support of the family,’ Cañizares said ‘the future of society is played out’ in the family, and, because of that, it’s become a target.

” ‘On the one hand, it’s the most valued, at least in the polls and even among young people, social institution, but it’s shaken to its foundations by serious, clear or subtle, threats,’ he said.

” ‘The family is haunted today, in our culture, by an endless threat of serious difficulties, and this is not hidden from anyone,’ Cañizares continued.

” ‘There 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.’ “

The cardinal’s inflammatory remarks were met with an equally inflammatory response:

“Soon after Cañizares’ remarks, several pro-LGTB and feminist organizations, such as Lambda, the LGBT collective of Valencia, the Collective for the Sexual-Affective Diversity and the Association of Families with Transsexual Minors announced they were going to file an official complaint with the ‘Office of Hate Crimes.’

“Technically, they intend to charge Cañizares with ‘apologia,’ a term in Spanish law for encouraging or defending a criminal act.”

The cardinal went on to defend his words,  summoning memories of censorship under Spain’s dictator Francisco Franco, and using remarks from Pope Francis’ exhortation Amoris Laetitia to support his ideas.

I hope that both sides of this dispute would see this event as an opportunity to dialogue with one another.  While the cardinal uses religious liberty arguments to defend his words, does he not see that his language is, at the very least, pastorally insensitive?  Perhaps the LGBT and feminist organizations needed to threaten legal action to get the cardinal’s attention, but do they not see that such action is only heightening the antagonism, instead of remedying it?  I hope the better angels of the folks on both sides of this dispute would come to see that peaceful dialogue with one another could be an opportunity for opening their horizons.

The Crux news report placed a strong emphasis on the cardinal and his supporters using Pope Francis’ words in his exhortation and in other settings as a justification for the ideas expressed.  Yet, clearly, they have not followed all of Pope Francis’ ideas.   While the pope has in fact supported marriage and family as exclusively heterosexual institutions,  and while he has spoken against new understandings of gender identity, he has also shown that dialogue and encounter are primary ways of being a merciful and accompanying church.  No matter how strongly the Pope has ever defended heterosexual marriage, he has never used phrases like “gay empire.”  Instead, he has met with LGBT folks, sent them letters, called them on the phone, and insisted that bishops be less political in areas of sexuality.

Terminology such as “gay empire” appears to be designed to instill fear, not to offer logical argument.  Like the similar term “gay lobby,” it conjures images of a vast network of powerful people who are manipulating the future.  If any of the advances for LGBT equality in recent decades were manipulated by gay people alone, they surely would have failed.   By the most generous estimates,  gay people are only about 10% of the population.  Hardly an empire.  It was the recognition by larger segments of the population that LGBT people should not suffer discrimination which have brought about the positive changes we have witnessed.

The news report noted that Cañizares used his homily on the feast of Corpus Christi to defend the idea that religious people have a right to speak their opinions in the public square.  He ended with the following statement:

 “[The] culture of the Eucharist promotes a culture of dialogue, which in it finds strength and nourishment.”

He used that sentiment to justify the idea that religious people should be part of the public dialogue.  However, it equally applies to the cardinal himself when he finds himself discussing LGBT issues.  “A culture of dialogue” is the culture of respect and mutual exchange, not a culture of name-calling and fear-mongering.  If the cardinal wants to live the Eucharistic culture of dialogue, he should open his doors to leaders of LGBT and women’s organizations to respectfully express his thoughts, and, more importantly, to hear their concerns.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry

10 replies
  1. Terence Weldon
    Terence Weldon says:

    They’re talking past each other, and they’re both wrong. The cardinal is wrong in his assessment of gay marriage and its alleged “threat” to the family, and his words are at the very least insensitive. But being wrong about gay marriage does not amount to a hate crime.

    Catholic teaching requires that we show “respect, compassion and sensitivity” to gay and lesbian people. By extension, LGBT people should display the same, when dealing with those who disagree with them.

    Both sides should find a way to kiss and make up..

  2. Chester Thompson
    Chester Thompson says:

    This Homophobe was busted by Pope Francis on the same day he busted Cardinal Raymond Burke, and both need to be shelved entirely!!! Maybe they could live in the QUIETNESS of the same building as Cardinal Bernard Law, with all of the other “Bad Boys” needing Punishment!!! They are all three a disgrace to their offices!!!

  3. Brian Kneeland
    Brian Kneeland says:

    Then entire hierarchy need to see that Jesus was not a condemning person – but one who took people where they were. Our entire hierarchy is full of condemnation of LGBT people – including the pope (do not see his “who am I to judge|” as applying to anyone but a celibate priest who the question was about!0 . For the other LGBT people in the church even the pope has been full of condemnation – like in Italy where he said they should not allow civil unions! others in the hierarchy are even more condemnatory – and should be seen as the Pharisees were seen in Jesus’ time. Learn from Jesus = LOVED YOUR NEIGHBOR (regardless of tho or what they are!)

  4. Don Siegal
    Don Siegal says:

    Reconciliation Desperately Needed

    To Terrance: “They’re talking past each other, and they’re both wrong.”

    Pope Francis’ exhortation Amoris Laetitia supports exactly what you say. Buried in the section GROWING IN CONJUGAL LOVE # 137. “Take time, quality time. This means being ready to listen patiently and attentively to everything the other person wants to say. It requires the self-discipline of not speaking until the time is right. Instead of offering an opinion or advice, we need to be sure that we have heard everything the other person has to say. This means cultivating an interior silence that makes it possible to listen to the other person without mental or emotional distractions. Do not be rushed, put aside all of your own needs and worries, and make space. Often the other spouse does not need a solution to his or her problems, but simply to be heard, to feel that someone has acknowledge their pain, their disappointment, their fear, their anger, their hopes and their dreams. How often we hear complaints like: ‘He does not listen to me.’ ‘Even when you seem to, you are really doing something else.’ ‘I talk to her and I feel like she can’t wait for me to finish.’ ‘When I speak to her, she tries to change the subject, or she gives me curt responses to end the conversation.’”

    Although applied here to conjugal love in marriage, these are wise words and apply to all situations where true conversation and dialogue are the desired objective. Sometimes because of the environmental setting it is impossible to have conversation and dialogue. Unfortunately, that may well be the situation between Cardinal Antonio Cañizares and the LGBT community.

    That being said, confrontation is never an effective means of resolving differences. An honored spiritual advisor of mine has told me there are two courses of action available when one is harmed by the insensitivity of others. One can act as a sponge and suck it up and not continue to spew the vitriol within the community, or one can act as a mirror and continue to spew the harm within the community. It’s difficult to act as a sponge, but that is exactly what the gospel demands that we do.

  5. Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM
    Rosa G. Manriquez, IHM says:

    Sigh. Thank you, Don Siegal. My brothers and sisters, as a mother and grandmother, this is most difficult for me to reconcile. If anyone would ever attempt to kill my children, I know my reptilian nature would jump to the surface and woe to them. I’m not bragging, just an acknowledgement of my nature. I feel the same when someone attacks them spiritually. My children carry an unnecessary burden 24/7 because they are lesbians. I’m praying for the ability to lessen their pain even as dialogue is established with homophobes in power. Today, I can’t guarantee that I would control that warrior within me…….even Jesus lost his temper and called out the abusers in power. I pray that Jesus guide me to know when and if that is ever needed again.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] controversy that erupted when a Spanish cardinal said the “gay empire” was harming the family has come to an end as a court in Valencia dismissed the hate crime accusations brought by an LGBT […]

  2. […] in 2009, he claimed that abortion was worse than child abuse. Most recently, the archbishop lashed out at the LGBT community, feminism and gender ideology. In early June, in a homily titled “In defense and support of the […]

  3. […] few weeks ago, I wrote a post describing the escalating fiery rhetoric in a debate between the cardinal of Valencia, Spain, and […]

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