Prosecutors in Spain have said they are investigating a Spanish cardinal for possible criminal hate speech because of remarks he made recently about the gay community.
Valencia’s provincial prosecutor’s office said on Friday that it was studying a recent speech made by Cardinal Antonio Canizares, the Archbishop of Valencia, in which he said “powers such as the gay empire” promoted the rise of movements against the Christian family.
Cardinal Canizares also hit out at feminists and gender ideology. A regional LGBT group and 50 other groups filed a complaint about the remarks.
News reports said the cardinal later issued a letter of apology, saying he had been misinterpreted. The prosecutors’ office has six months to decide whether the case merits prosecution. The offence is punishable by up to three years in prison.
There was no immediate comment from the cardinal’s office on Friday.
Cardinal Canizares, 70, stirred a similar controversy last year when he criticised the influx of migrants and refugees into Europe. He later apologised for the remarks.
A key protege of Benedict XVI, the cardinal was removed from an important post in the Vatican’s liturgy office and sent back to Spain in 2014 by Pope Francis.
The liturgy office regulates how Masses and other sacraments are celebrated, and under Benedict XVI’s papacy took on a more conservative and traditional bent.