Priests in Spain voiced support for a local bishop after a city council adopted a motion banning him from official city events over his remarks criticizing dangerous behaviors within the gay community.
On May 15 the Alaca city council passed the motion, which also called for Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla to be moved to another diocese.
“In response to these very grave acts, we express our adherence to the Catholic doctrine taught by our father and pastor, Bishop Reig, as well as our support for him and his apostolic ministry, and we invite all to pray for religious freedom, for our Bishop and for those who persecute the Catholic Church,” the priests said in a statement Tuesday.
The motion to transfer the bishop was presented by the group Union, Progress and Democracy and was backed by other left-leaning organizations as well as the Spanish Socialist Party. The ruling People’s Party, however, has opposed the motion.
Bishop Reig Pla has faced intense criticism after remarks given in a Good Friday sermon in which he condemned sexual practices he believes to be harmful.
As part of a larger cultural critique of sexual behavior in modern society, he lamented how some with same-sex attraction “corrupt and prostitute themselves or go to gay night clubs” in order to “validate” their struggle.
“I assure you what they encounter is pure hell,” he said on April 6.
In response to the bishop, Socialist Party spokesman Javier Rodriguez said his comments have put him as well as the diocese “on the homophobic map.”
Bishop Reig Pla, however, has gained the support of the Spanish bishops' conference, whose secretary general, Auxiliary Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino of Madrid, called the controversy caused by his sermon “unjust.”
The International Federation of Associations of Catholic Doctors has also voiced support for Bishop Reig Pla as well as more than 20 locals struggling with same-sex attraction who personally wrote the bishop to thank him for his remarks.