Spanish group files hate crime complaint over anti-Church article

Spanish group files hate crime complaint over anti-Church article

Credit: Unsplash.
Credit: Unsplash.

.- The Association of Christian Lawyers in Spain filed a complaint last week with the Prosecutor's Office against the newly appointed director of the Institute for Women and Equal Opportunity, Beatriz Gimeno. The group says Gimeno committed a hate crime by authoring a 2013 article in Eldiario.es justifying the burning of churches.

Hundreds of churches were burned and priests were killed in Spain during the 1930s, as the Church faced a period of violent persecution.

Gimeno referenced church burnings in her article, saying, “In those countries where the Church (or churches) are on an equal footing with everyone else's freedoms, no one feels the need to burn them. But that's not our case. The deep loathing that many people feel here for the Catholic Church has been earned.”

“Here religion has never been a personal option that is lived freely and peacefully, but it has always been an imposition that falls upon us from above in all the structures of the State,” she said.

“The Church was an institution so hated by the working class, by the peasantry, by the majority of the intellectuals that, as soon as the spark was lit, people ran to burn churches.”

In the October 2013 article, entitled “The Church: a new twist,” Gimeno accused the Church of being an insatiable monster that seeks to dominate society and impose strict sexual rules, while failing to address problems of poverty and inequality.

“The Church in Spain has always been one of the main allies of economic power and an economic power in itself,” she said.

The president of Christian Lawyers, Polonia Castellanos, is confident the complaint will be successful, saying, “the Prosecutor's Office would have to act in view of the hate speech.”

Gimeno was president of the Spanish LGBT Federation from 2003 to 2007 and was in charge of equality advocacy for the left-wing populist Podemos party in the Madrid autonomous region.

She was named director of the Institute for Women and Equal Opportunity, a government post, by Equality Minister Irene Montero, also of the Podemos party, who in turn was recently appointed to her position by the newly formed left-wing coalition government.

The new coalition government was formed in Spain Jan. 7, with the Podemos party and the Spanish Socialist Workers Party signing on to a 10-point pre-agreement, a type of platform.

The Spanish bishops have expressed serious concern about the direction the new government will take the country.

When the announcement of the pre-agreement was made, Cardinal Antonio Cañizares of Valencia said that with it, “a cultural change is established, a way of thinking is imposed, with a vision of man intended to be spread to everyone - the approval of euthanasia, the extension of new rights, gender ideology, radical feminism, bringing up historical memories that foment hatred and aversion.”

In a Jan. 4, a few days before Pedro Sánchez of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party took office as Spain's new prime minister, the cardinal said in a letter that the country is in “a critical situation, a true emergency in face of the future.” He called all the faithful to pray for the country.

In a letter also published in early January, Bishop Ginés García Beltrán of Getafe also asked for prayers for the country and said that Spain had entered a “new political era.” The prelate said he had received numerous questions about whether the Spanish bishops were concerned.

Given the talking points “repeated in all the campaigns and government proposals about an exclusive secularism, or against religious freedom - which is not only to profess my faith, but to live according to it - the conception of man and life contrary to natural law, or the real defense of the poorest, without forgetting the role of churches and religions in a democratic society, we can say that there is expectant concern,” the bishop said.

However, he added, “if we're talking about worry as fear of (the Church being) insignificant or invisible, rejected or held in contempt, in my case, frankly, no.”

“The Church belongs to the Lord, and the barque will be weak and poor, but in the storm it becomes strong because the sail that drives it is the power of the Risen One," the bishop said.