Madrid, Spain, Jul 20, 2012 / 11:34 am
A judge in the Spanish city of Alcala de Henares has dismissed a lawsuit against Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Pla over his criticism of the gay lifestyle, saying his comments do not incite hatred or violence against homosexual persons and inflict no harm.
According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Judge Antonio Cervera Pelaez-Campomanes dismissed the lawsuit against the Bishop of Alcala de Henares on July 10 and notified the parties of his ruling on July 19.
"While the bishop's words indicate a critical view of homosexuality, they do not, properly understood, inflict harm on homosexuals in general nor are they are a call to discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation," he said.
Bishop Reig Pla has faced intense criticism after remarks given in a Good Friday sermon in April 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.
Gay advocacy organizations joined forces with left-leaning political parties in Spain to file a lawsuit against the bishop and demand that he be expelled from the city. The People's Party spoke out against the bishop's critics.
In his ruling, Judge Pelaez-Campomanes said Bishop Reig Pla's homily focused on sin and the suffering that it causes, and referenced not only homosexual conduct but also marital infidelity, abortion, unjust wages, disloyality and sexual favors in the workplace, alcohol and priests who live a double life.
The judge also pointed to an interview with Bishop Reig Pla published online, which the gay community said bolstered their charges, and said there was nothing criminal in his comments.
"While it is undeniable that the interview reveals a critical position towards homosexuality, in which it is described as a disordered inclination, it does not equate in the strict sense to either the inciting of hatred or the inflicting of harm," the judge wrote.
Because Bishop Reig Pla alluded to Church doctrine in his comments, they are protected by religious freedom, he added.
In the wake of the attacks on Bishop Reig Pla, Catholic groups across the country rallied to his defense, and the Bishops' Conference of Spain called the persecution against him "unjust."