Archbishop Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, appointed by Pope Francis I to be Spain’s newest Cardinal, is under investigation for “inciting hate and discrimination” which is an offense against Spain’s constitution.
Sebastián, whose appointment to archbishop is not official until February 22, made the mistake of airing his homophobia in an interview with the Diario Sur newspaper immediately after news of his appointment broke.
“A lot of people complain and don’t tolerate it but with all respect I say that homosexuality is a defective way of manifesting sexuality, because that has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation.”
We have a lot of defects in our bodies. I have high blood pressure. Am I going to get angry because they tell me that? It is a defect I have that I have to correct as far as I can,” said Sebastian, who is archbishop emeritus of the northern city of Pamplona.
When he was reminded of Pope Francis recent statement: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?” The archbishop answered:
“It is one thing to show welcome and affection to a homosexual person and another to morally justify the exercise of homosexuality.”
Unfortunately for Archbishop Sebastián, hate speech that “incites hate and discrimination” is a crime in Spain.
After Archbishop Aguilar made his homophobic statements, the Spanish LGBT advocacy group Colegas filed a complaint. The Malaga public prosecutor opened an investigation.
In his own defense Archbishop Sebastián said (had to be haughtily):
“Pointing out a defect to a homosexual is not an offense, it is a help because many cases of homosexuality can be recovered and normalized with adequate treatment.”
Prosecutors will now decide whether the allegations constitute a criminal offence under the Spanish constitution. No matter what they decide, the action is noteworthy, as it is the first time a member of the Catholic clergy has been investigated for hate speech.
Meanwhile, an online petition to rescind Archbishop’s appointment to Cardinal before February 22, is underway.
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