On 16 June, it was reported that the courageous prelate from Spain, Cardinal Archbishop of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares Llovera, was being investigated by the government of the Spanish Province of Valencia for his purportedly abusive remarks about the increasingly disintegrating pressure on the traditional family exercised by applied gender theory and the so called “gay empire.”
The report said:
The government of the Spanish province of Valencia has opened an investigation against the Cardinal Archbishop of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares Llovera, following numerous complaints over a sermon in which he denounced the influence of the “gay empire” on society. If prosecuted and convicted, Cañizares could receive up to four years in prison for “inciting hatred” against homosexuals, under [current] Spanish law. [emphasis added]
The unexpected good news of 23 June, however, was that the investigation of Cardinal Cañizares has been suspended. The magistrate responsible has said that there are no grounds for it, nor for any acceptance of alleged criminal charges against the Catholic prelate. As the Catholic website Crux reports:
A judge in Spain ruled on Thursday [23 June] that a cardinal denouncing an attack against the Christian family by a “gay empire” was not, simply by virtue of using that language, committing a hate speech crime but exercising his right to freedom of expression.
The criminal proceedings against Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Valencia were dismissed without further investigation because the magistrate saw no “criminal intent” nor an appeal to “hatred and violence” in the homily delivered by the prelate on May 13.
For the moment, at least, there is no evidence that there will be a legal appeal made by those many groups – such as the Valencian LGBT association Lambda together with 55 other organizations – who had originally brought charges against Cañizares. There is also no evidence that the Vatican had come to the aid of the cardinal, at least not by public diplomatic channels nor by public moral persuasion. However, even if there were to be further litigious steps taken against him, Cañizares has already made clear that would not relent; not in his principles and not in his conduct.
Before the 23 June decision, Cardinal Cañizares was facing the possibility of several years in prison. Nevertheless, he declared that he would not back down. On the contrary, as the Austrian Catholic website kath.net reported on 20 June, the Spanish cardinal said last Friday: “They will not force me to be silent.” He added: “If I were to be silent, I would be a bad bishop.” He will continue, Cañizares added, to speak the truth, “even if some do not tolerate it and even if they crucify me.” The cardinal also said that “We need the family, and this [gender] ideology destroys it. That is why we are not to be silent, but we have to respond.” [All emphasis added]
As kath.net reported, Cañizares responded to the accusations against him by asking, “Is it homophobia to defend the family?” Implicit in this question is the cardinal’s resolve; the very phrasing conveys that he is not willing to retract his former statements on this matter.
On the same day (23 June) of his being freed from any charges by the Spanish magistrate, another incident showed how Cardinal Cañizares intends to continues his battle. As kath.net reports today, an extreme left-wing group called “Endavant” published a poster displaying artistic renditions of two well-known Spanish Madonnas (the Virgin of Montserrat and Our Lady of the Abandoned) engaged in a lewd kiss. This poster, which bears the heading “Against the sacred rules,” is meant to invite people to join several LGBT demonstrations throughout Spain, the first of which was held on 18 June in Valencia. Cañizares responded to this blasphemous act with an invitation to a Holy Mass of Reparation on 23 June and with a call to pray the Rosary. The organization Endavant explicitly said that this poster was meant to be a response to the 13 May homily of the cardinal which had been the cause for such angry reactions on the side of the progressive forces in Spain. “We believe,” said Endavant in a 13 June statement on their website, that the focus of the day should be “to denounce the role of the ecclesiastical hierarchy as propagating hatred against homosexuals.”
Cañizares himself said that the poster violates the feelings of the Catholics of Valencia as well as of all people of good will. According to kath.net, the Spanish Bishops’ Conference has welcomed the Holy Mass of Reparation as proposed by Cardinal Cañizares and has called the poster itself “blasphemous.”
This is not the first time that Cardinal Cañizares has demonstrated his courage. As kath.net reported in October of 2015, Cañizares had made controversial statements concerning the immigration crisis that is inundating Spain; he then spoke of “an invasion of the immigrants” which might turn out to be a “Trojan Horse.” These remarks provoked harsh criticism of the cardinal from some quarters, and even some calls for his resignation.
It might also be of interest to know that, since 2007, Cardinal Cañizares has wholeheartedly supported Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Letter Summorum Pontificum, which liberated the Traditional Mass. In fact, the cardinal himself has publicly offered the Sacrifice of the Altar in the ancient Roman rite, and he has also spoken publicly against the irreverence of receiving Holy Communion in the hand.
For all of us Catholic laymen, it is truly encouraging to see at least one of the princes of the Church publicly demonstrating sustained moral strength and principled resistance. It is of even greater consequence that he has chosen to do so in the face of an often equivocal and thus ever-weakening Catholic leadership, along with the concurrent rise of psycho-political pressure coming from ostensibly progressive forces – both from within and from without the Church – to abandon the traditional Catholic moral teaching on marriage and the family.
Dr. Maike Hickson, born and raised in Germany, studied History and French Literature at the University of Hannover and lived for several years in Switzerland where she wrote her doctoral dissertation. She is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.
Her articles have appeared in American and European journals such as Catholicism.org, LifeSiteNews, The Wanderer, Culture Wars, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Apropos, and Zeit-Fragen.