By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

SALTILLO, Mexico, July 9,2008 ( Bishop Raul Vera of the Diocese of Saltillo is sponsoring a homosexual youth group that accepts sodomy and cross-dressing, holds “Gay Pride” festivals, and openly affiliates itself with the pro-abortion group “Catholics for the Right to Decide”, LifeSiteNews has learned after an investigation of several months.

Bishop Raul Vera, is reportedly aware of the group’s activities and approves them. Vera is also an open supporter of the State of Coahuila’s “civil union” legislation for homosexuals.

The organization, called the “Lesbian and Gay Community of San Elredo” (Saint Aelred) made headlines in local newspapers recently when it sponsored the appearance of expelled Dominican and homosexual activist James Alison at a “Gay Pride Festival” promoted by the diocese (see LifeSiteNews coverage at

The group, founded in 2002 by two homosexual adolescents, takes the name of Saint Aelred, who some homosexuals claim as one of their own, despite his clear and vehement denunciation of sodomy.

In an interview last year, group co-founder Noe Ruiz told LifeSiteNews that the group doesn’t “talk about avoiding relations, but we do talk about protection”. He added that the priests who counsel the group teach that homosexual sexual acts are not sinful, as long as the two are really “in love.”

“We have three priests, who are spiritual guides for the community, and yes they touch on that type of subject, but always very responsibly, and we are talking about a couple that is in love, and it really is a demonstration of love, it really is affection that they feel for each other, there’s no problem,” said Ruiz.

Asked to explain, he said, “as long as there’s love between the two people, go ahead, but if you change partners every weekend, then we’re doing wrong.”

“So they say that if the two people have a stable relationship, in that case their sexual relations are good?” LifeSiteNews asked. Ruiz responded. “In those cases, yes.”

LifeSiteNews contacted one of the priests who guides the group, Fr. Robert Coogan, an American originally from New York. He at first flatly denied that the group was being taught that sodomy could be morally acceptable.

However, he soon called back to retract his statement, acknowledging that “I think it is certainly true, that in the group, members of the group have heard that, depending on their situation, two people who are trying to live responsibly in a relationship with people of the same sex, there are conditions so its not a blanket statement, they could hear a priest say that their situation is not necessarily (wrong) but that is something that some people would hear – with the conditions.”

Asked about the “conditions”, Fr. Coogan claimed that psychological factors can reduce or eliminate the guilt of an act. However, he also claimed that the Catholic Church does not condemn homosexual behavior as sinful, and does not teach that any acts are evil in themselves, both of which are contradicted by recent statements by popes as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is a summary of Church teaching issued by Pope John Paul II.

Fernando Hernandez, Special Events Coordinator for the group, noted in a recent interview with the news agency Notise that in contrast to Catholic groups like Courage, which seeks abstinence and even a change in sexual inclination, where possible, for its members, the Community of San Elredo does not.

“We’re part of nature and we’re happy that way. Homosexuality is not an illness, nor something that harms oneself,” he said.

One member of the organization, co-founder Marco Antonio Mata, has openly expressed his intention to register his partner and himself under Coahuila’s civil unions law, the only one in Mexico, according to Copley News Service in 2006.

The Community of San Elredo also has links to the pro-abortion movement. Earlier this year, the group held a series of forums on “sexual diversity” with the open sponsorship of “Catholics for the Right to Decide”, which is the sister group of Catholics for a Free Choice, an organization condemned repeatedly by Church authorities for advocating abortion and for misleading Catholics on Church doctrine regarding human life issues.

Saltillo’s Bishop Raul Vera has a history of involving himself in controversial social and political causes. Although he was slated to replace the Bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas in 2000, the Vatican’s decision to instead appoint him to the diocese of Saltillo was seen as an attempt to remove him from a leadership role in the low-level insurgency led by the socialistic Zapatista movement.

Although Vera has sponsored activities that affirm homosexual sexual orientation, he has spoken out against the use of birth control. He also opposes homosexual “marriage”.

While Coahuila is widely regarded as a conservative state, news reports indicate that Vera has thus far encountered little resistance to his promotion of homosexual political and social causes.

See related articles:

See Gay Pride poster

See Poster advertising the sexual forums

Related Links:

Vatican Contact Information:

Archbishop William J. Levada, S.T.D.
Prefect for The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
[Secretary: Most Rev. Archbishop Angelo Amato, S.D.B.]
Piazza del S. Uffizio ll
00l93 Rome Italy
phone: 011.3906.
phone: 011.3906.
fax: 011.3906.
email: [email protected]

His Eminence Giovanni Battista Cardinal Re
Congregation for Bishops
[Secretary: Most Rev. Archbishop Francesco Monterisi]
Piazza Pio XII 10
00193 Rome, Italy
phone: 011-3906-6988-4217
fax: 011-3906-6988-5303

His Eminence Cláudio Cardinal Hummes, O.F.M.
The Congregation for the Clergy
[Secretary: Most Rev. Mauro Piacenza]
Piazza Pio XII 3
00l93 Rome, Italy
phone: 011.3906.69.88.4l.5l
Fax: 011.3906.

Related LifeSiteNews Coverage:

Bishop of Saltillo Denounces Contraception, Says Condoms Are Not Effective against Venereal Diseases