The Cañizares Case in Spain is a Litmus Test for Pope Francis


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As has been recently reported in several media outlets, Antonio Cardinal Cañizares Llovera, the Archbishop of Valencia, Spain, is now under harsh attack from feminist, homosexual, and other progressive groups for having defended the traditional family and for accusing the promoters of gender ideology and of the “gay empire” of attacking the family. Cañizares said the following, for example, in a homily on 13 May, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima:

We have [cumulative] 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.

As Crux reports, “Spain, generally considered one of the world’s most gay-friendly [sic] nations, has had, since 1996, anti-discrimination [sic] laws including penalties for ‘hate speech.’”

In a case similar to that of the Swiss Bishop Vitus Huonder of Chur – who had been sued (though without success) in 2015 by homosexual groups and persons for quoting Old Testament passages against homosexuality and thus for allegedly calling for the actual killing of homosexuals – the Spanish cardinal is being now threatened with a law suit. More from Crux:

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 that they were going to file an official complaint with the “Office of Hate Crimes.”

Technically, they intend to charge Cañizares with “apologia,” [“apología de delitos de odioi.e., advocacy of hate crimes] a term in Spanish law for encouraging or defending a criminal act.

While Cardinal Cañizares very bravely and promptly responded to these threats with another forceful defense of the Catholic Church’s teaching, nothing, so far, has been heard from Rome in defense of this valiant Catholic witness. Moreover, it is important to note, that the defenders of Cardinal Cañizares in Spain now themselves emphatically refer to Pope Francis’ own strong critique of the gender theory. It is therefore claimed that the progressive groups in Spain, to be consistent, would also have to rebuke the pope. Crux describes the situation, as follows:

“Gender theory is an error of the human mind that leads to so much confusion,” he [Pope Francis] said in March 2015, when visiting the southern Italian city of Naples. Later in that speech, he said that “the family is under attack” because of it.


Defenders of Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Valencia, however, are [likewise] quoting Pope Francis’ latest document on the family [Amoris Laetitia], which also defends traditional marriage and criticizes gender theory, with the unspoken implication apparently being that, if the Spanish prelate is “homophobic,” then so is the pope.

Many observers, however, have pointed out that Pope Francis – in his own inconsistent and demeaning remarks about those who hold firm to the traditional Catholic moral teaching – actually helps thereby to undermine the Fight for the Faith. It will now therefore be important to see whether or not Pope Francis will forcefully, consistently, and loyally support his own cardinal – who was the prestigious former Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments.

For these reasons, I recently contacted Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., the head of the press office of the Vatican. This is what I wrote to him:

Please allow me to ask you whether Pope Francis intends to issue a statement of support for Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, who has been recently publicly attacked for his defense of the traditional family. Please see this link for further information:

Since I intend to write upon this matter, I was wondering whether Pope Francis intends to take some steps in defense of his own cardinal, similarly to what he recently did in defense of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin ( – of course for different reasons.

At the time of this writing, I have not received any reply.

As many have by now likely observed, Pope Francis has in the past taken steps to defend prelates of his own liking. For example – as I mention in my e-mail to Father Lombardi – he has defended Cardinal Philippe Barbarin who is currently under state investigation as to whether he had covered up sexual abuse cases in his own diocese (Francis met with him in private audience and told him not yet to step down but to await what the state’s findings will be); he has also defended Bishop Juan Barros of Chile (Osorno), whom he made a bishop despite strong allegations that the new bishop had covered up clergy sex abuse by a priest in the 1980s and 1990s; finally – and this is the most stunning case – Pope Francis has insisted upon keeping Monsignor Battista Ricca, even though the Vatican expert Dr. Sandro Magister was able to show this prelate’s more than dubious moral background, which was later further confirmed by other sources.

We have now received other troubling news – from a report by Guiseppe Nardi on the German Catholic website – that, a Spanish website, has been able to confirm (in spite of a denial by Fr. Lombardi) that Pope Francis will receive Pablo Iglesias this coming September in a private audience. Iglesias is one of the leaders of the progressive camp in Spain – the same camp that is at this very moment pressuring Cardinal Cañizares. As Nardi says:

Podemos [Pablo Iglesias’ own political party] represents – just like the whole radical left – positions which, in the field of the “non-negotiable values” (Benedict XVI), are in open opposition to the teaching of the Church. They radically defend a “culture of death” with regard to the matters of abortion, artificial conception, contraception, and euthanasia, as well as homosexuality.

Nardi then makes this piercing comment:

This deadly opposition to the teaching of the Church and to the nature of man does not especially seem to bother the leadership of the Church.

We might have come to the hour of an important, perhaps conclusive, litmus test. Will Pope Francis stand with Cardinal  Cañizares, or with Pablo Iglesia? Will he back up his own formerly critical words about the gender ideology with actions, or will the pope’s words lie fallow, without meaning when they truly matter?

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