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Spain's Archbishop of Valencia and His Crusade Against the ‘Gay Empire’

Categories: Spain, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Education, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Humor, LGBTQ+, Politics, Religion
Cañizares en la misa de su toma de posesión como arzobispo de Valencia [1]

Cardinal Cañizares at his inaugural Mass in Valencia. Screenshot from a YouTube video from the Archdiocese of Valencia.

In recent years, Spain “has witnessed a major escalation against families by political leaders, aided by other powers such as the ‘gay empire’ and certain feminist ideologies,” the Archbishop of Valencia, Antonio Cañizares, said in his homily [2] during a Mass that was celebrated at the Valencian headquarters of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family [3].

The Catholic cardinal also said Spain is the European country “where there have been more abortions, divorces, and civil partnerships,” and denounced legislation that promotes “gender ideology” (referring to the idea that the differences between males and females are social constructs) as “the most insidious thing in the history of mankind.”

Cañizares belongs to the hardliner wing of the Catholic Church, which dominated Spain during the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, but seems to be on the decline with Francis I. Even so, some of its leaders still insist on attacking the LGBT community and have recently been involved in bitter controversies [4].

As expected, his statements sparked fierce discussions. On Twitter, the archbishop’s words were taken with humor, and the avalanche of tweets and memes placed the words “Gay Empire” among the trending topics on May 19.

Make a note of this name for a sauna: Gay Empire

If this isn’t the fruit of the gay empire, I don’t know what is.

 Gay Empire.

Cardinal Cañizares: The Gay Empire is planning an attack on Christian families.

Buenafuente, caracterizado de Darth Gayer [13]

Buenafuente, character of Darth Gayer. Photo from eldiario.es with license CC BY-SA 3.0

Humorist Andreu Buenafuente, on his show Late Motiv [14], declared himself to be “a big fan of Cañi” and dedicated his monologue to the cardinal:

Cañizares, los días que sale el arco iris, no sale de casa. Él cree que vendrá Elton John y se lo va a llevar al infierno a ver vídeos de George Michael hasta que los ojos le sangren.

Cañizares, on the days that a rainbow appears, does not leave his house. He thinks Elton John will come and drag him down to hell to watch George Michael videos until his eyes bleed.

But not everyone sees the humor in the cardinal’s homily. Paco Ramírez, director of the Spanish Observatory Against LGBT-Phobia issued a harsh “Open letter from the Gay Empire against Druid Getafix Cañizares.” [15] In it, he describes the cardinal as “out of his mind” and cites scientific studies that “have discovered that irrational homophobia and intolerance are due to psychological problems and that these people are prone to psychotic disorders which, in extreme cases, can lead to schizophrenia.” Ramírez also accuses Cañizares of inciting homophobic violence:

Como Panorámix el druida de “Astérix y Obélix”, se empeña en seguir defendiendo con furia y rencor una concepción de la sociedad y de la Iglesia caduca y que ya no existe, el mundo ha cambiado y su Aldea Gala de la ortodoxia fundamentalista se ha convertido en un burbuja traslúcida que no le permite ver que sus homilías en vez de difundir el mensaje de amor y concordia del Evangelio son un altavoz para el odio, la confrontación y la incitación a la violencia.

Like Getafix the Druid from [the French comic strip] “Astérix and Obélix,” he is determined to continue defending with fury and bitterness a concept of society and the Church that is outdated and nonexistent. The world has changed and his orthodox fundamentalist Gaulish village has become a translucent bubble through which he cannot see that instead of spreading the Gospel’s message of love and harmony, his homilies are a loudspeaker for hatred, confrontation and inciting violence.

In a society such as Spain’s, which is increasingly secular and traditionally tolerant [16] of minority sexual identities, few voices have defended Cañizares. On periodistadigital.com [17], the user ‘Mar’ showed her agreement with the archbishop:

Me adhiero completamente a sus declaraciones señor Obispo. Hay q ser valiente para expresarlas. Hoy por hoy los vicios están de moda, entre ellos la homosexualidad y el feminismo. Pero qué es esto? Tan vacío está el ser humano que necesita llamar la atención de cualquier forma? El exhibicionismo y la agresividad de estos grupos lo confirman.

I fully concur with the Bishop’s statements. You have to be brave to express them. Today, vices are fashionable, including homosexuality and feminism. But what is this? Are humans so empty that they need to attract attention by any means necessary? The exhibitionism and aggressiveness of these groups confirm that.

On Infocatolica.com [18], Edith asserted that she is aware of the “problem”:

Todos ya nos estamos dando cuenta de la furibunda dictadura gay.

We are all becoming aware of the furious gay dictatorship.

El cardenal Cañizares con la «capa magna» en 2007, durante una ordenación de sacerdotes en Toledo [19]

Cardinal Cañizares with the “cappa magna” in 2007, during an ordination of priests in Toledo. Photo from laicismo.org

But most Internet users condemned the words of Cañizares, calling his speech stale and obsolete:

Androcentritis (en eldiario.com [20]): A ver si se enteran estos hombres célibes y castos de que la única autoridad que tienen es con respecto a sus subalternos y que no pretendan meterse en las camas ni en las braguetas de los miembros de la sociedad civil del siglo XXI (no XI ni XII).

Androcentritis (on eldiario.com [20]): Let’s see if these celibate and chaste men are aware that the only authority they have is with respect to their subordinates and they don’t intend on meddling in the personal lives or the bedroom habits of the members of civil society in the 21st century (not the 11th or 12th).

Roberto (en infocatolica.com [21]): El Cardenal Cañizares cumple su misión, como pastor de la Iglesia defender el modelo de familia católica; el problema que es que gran parte de la población ha dejado de ser católica (si es que alguna vez lo fue) y entonces la forma de entender la familia, la sexualidad, las relaciones, etc para mucha gente ya no está centrada en la fe y en la moral que se deriva de ella.

Es un problema que se va a dar cada vez más, lo obispos y sacerdotes en cuestiones de moral (aunque su mensaje vaya dirigido a todos), tendrán que considerar que solamente la comunidad católica va a ser la receptora de sus mensajes, y esta comunidad va a ser menos numerosa y mas envejecida.

Roberto (on infocatolica.com [21]): Cardinal Cañizares fulfills his mission as pastor of the Church to defend the model Catholic family; the problem is that much of the population has ceased to be Catholic (if it ever was), so the way many people understand family, sexuality, relationships, etc,. is no longer centered on faith and the ethics that derive from it.

It is a problem we’re going to see more frequently, bishops and priests on moral issues (although their message is addressed to everyone) will have to consider that only the Catholic community will receive their messages, and this community will be elderly and less numerous.

As for the legal implications that the archbishop’s comments might have, Lambda, an LGBT rights advocacy group, has filed a formal complaint [22] with the district attorney for hate crimes “for his homophobic and sexist comments that only serve to incite hatred against those who do not fit into the archaic standards upheld by the Catholic hierarchy.”

Amid the controversy, Pope Francis demanded the archbishop’s presence at the Vatican – an unexpected hearing in which, according to eldiario.es [23], “the cardinal’s words were the bulk of the conversation.”

(…) el Papa Francisco no quiere que los obispos españoles sigan boicoteando el cambio de mensaje que pretende hacer llegar desde la Iglesia. Y menos, en un momento en el que “España está viviendo un momento electoral y político muy complicado” en el que la Iglesia “debe ser instrumento constructivo, y no elemento desestabilizador”, apuntan fuentes eclesiásticas.

(…) Así, mientras desde el Vaticano se han abandonado las palabras gruesas contra los homosexuales, los divorciados o cualquier cuestión relativa a la moral sexual, algunos obispos (…) siguen empeñados en hacer del sexo un caballo de batalla.

[…] Pope Francis does not want Spanish bishops to continue boycotting the change of message he intends on disseminating from the Church. What is worse, ecclesiastical sources note, is that this is happening at a time in which “Spain is going through a very complicated time electorally and politically” where the Church “should be a constructive tool, and not a destabilizing element.”

[…] So, while the Vatican has dropped the use of heavy words against homosexuals, divorced people or any other issue concerning sexual morality, some bishops […] insist on being committed to making sex into a matter of contention.