The bishops of Spain have defended a local bishop against “unjust” media criticism over his remarks condemning destructive behaviors within the local gay community.
Spokesman and secretary general for the bishops' conference, Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, said on April 27 that the Church will “continue exercising her right to freedom of expression and her duty to proclaim Catholic doctrine without being influenced by any fictitious and unjust controversy.”
Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla of Alcala de Henares has faced intense scrutiny from local politicians and some within Spain's gay community 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, the bishop 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 defense of Bishop Reig Pla, Bishop Martinez voiced disbelief at local media claims that the Church is trying to “incite hatred, vengeance and discrimination.”
He called this absolutely “false,” underscoring that “on many occasions” the Church has said that homosexual persons “are worthy of every respect and cannot be the targets of mockery, discrimination or violence, for sure.”
“The Church does not condemn anyone, much less a group of persons. Every person has inviolable dignity and deserves unconditional respect, no matter who they are, good or evil, whether they think like us or not,” Bishop Martinez said during a press conference after the 99th annual Spanish bishops' assembly which took place last week.
Bishop Martinez said Bishop Reig Pla was in a great spirits during the meeting, but that there was no discussion of the “controversy” surrounding his Good Friday sermon, because “it does not deserve to be taken seriously by an organization that has a lot to do.”
Bishop Martinez said relations between homosexual persons are “objectively disordered,” and that he does not understand why people are “scandalized” upon hearing what the Church teaches.
“All persons, including those with homosexual tendencies, are worthy of respect, affection, support and acceptance,” he added, but the Church teaches that homosexual acts are “disordered,” just as adultery is “objectively a sin.”
“Are they going to hell? The Church never says that anyone is going to hell, and neither does she in this case,” he added. “The bishop’s words have been distorted.”
“But the Church, out of love for the truth and because it is her duty, must preach the Gospel and about that which endangers love among mankind, that is, sin,” Bishop Martinez said.