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Colombian Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba Villota speaks at a homosexual activist conference on May 14, 2015.

BOGOTA, Colombia, May 21, 2015 ( — A Colombian bishop appeared as a speaker at an event that promotes “gay marriage” and adoption by homosexuals, important political flags for the homosexual movement, and earned applause from his audience. He said much of what they wanted to hear and even more: according to the prelate, among the 12 apostles there could have been a homosexual.

The Colombian Bishop Juan Vicente Cordoba Villota, head of the Diocese of Fontibón, said that homosexuality is not a bad thing and encouraged homosexuals to form “beautiful homes” when they get married.

Cordoba later apologized after criticism by his fellow bishops but stopped short of a full retraction.

The prelate made the remarks during the Forum 'Adoption and Egalitarian Marriage in Colombia: An Unfinished Road', which happened last Thursday, May 14, at the University of the Andes. The event was organized by the university along with the Good Government Foundation and the Colombia Diversa association.

The co-organizers are not low-profile entities. The Good Government Foundation is a think tank founded in 1994 by Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s current president, to assist the political project that led him to the presidency. His son, Martin Santos, currently heads the foundation.

Meanwhile, Colombia Diversa is one of the most prominent homosexual activist organizations in the country.

Besides the Jesuit bishop, the following participated as speakers in the event: Juan Fernando Cristo, Minister of the Interior; Senators Claudia Lopez of the Green Alliance Party and Hernan Andrade of the Conservative Party; Nilson Pinilla, a former judge of the Constitutional Court, and at least ten LGBT activists, among others.

In his presentation, right after the intervention of the Minister of Interior, the bishop said that in the Bible and in the life of Jesus Christ “there was not a single case of discrimination against homosexuals that allows us to assume as a religious doctrine” that the homosexual tendency is bad in itself.

“We do not know if any of the disciples of Jesus Christ was 'gay'. We neither know if Mary Magdalene was not a lesbian. It seems that she was not, because she laid down with many men, but we do not know. Jesus never said do not walk this way, or not to dress in that way. Nor did he tell them that he wanted them to be machos,” he explained.

Then he said that no one chooses to be homosexual or heterosexual, but “one simply feels, loves, experiences, feels attracted; and no attraction is bad.”

“Sin is something else. It is simply not respecting the dignity of others. Not loving God and your neighbor as yourself, not feeding the hungry, not giving drink to the thirsty, and not putting in place the dignity, justice, health of others. I prefer a thousand times that in Colombia we have health, we have dignity, that we don’t die in hospitals, that there is food for everyone, than we be gay or straight,” argued the prelate.

Cordoba also warned that the Church cannot recognize marriage between homosexuals, and stressed that the adoption of children must ensure that they can have “a father and a mother.”

However, moments later, when he was addressing the possibility that the Colombian State would recognize same-sex “marriage,” he said the following: “Homosexual brothers, when you marry, have nice homes, based on loyalty, and educate your children with love, teach them to be concerned for the poor, the needy, so that there is justice.”

The government of President Juan Manuel Santos is openly in favor of the legalization of same-sex “marriage,” with the consequent possibility of adoption. In fact, during the forum, the Interior Minister reaffirmed the support of the Colombian government to the LGBT agenda.

Minister Juan Fernando Cristo acknowledged that most of the Colombian population is against same-sex “marriage” and adoption by same-sex couples. For this reason, he said, “the rights of these minorities should not be subject to consensus by majority vote, as the respect for human rights is not optional.”

Bishop Córdoba, who is also chairman of the Colombian bishops’ Department of Promotion and Defense of Life, made a counterpoint to the position of the minister. He remarked that the State's decision on these matters should not be at the hands “of a few judges, who decide over citizens” and defended the possibility of a referendum or a plebiscite, arguing, in addition, that “the Legislative is the natural setting of the discussion.”

In addressing the polarization that the institution of same-sex “marriage” could generate, he gave a warning, not mentioning to whom it was addressed: “This is not about winning battles over genitalia, for penises or vaginas; today the battles must be for the dignity of the poor, the marginalized, for those who are not heard.”

Apologies without retraction

As expected, the prelate's statements caused discontent among his colleagues. The next day, Jairo Jaramillo Monsalve, Archbishop of Barranquilla, said that the views of Córdoba did not represent the position of the Church. “I very much regret this confusion that the words of Bishop Córdoba caused among Catholics,” the archbishop said, according to “It is difficult to understand how you can consider as a family a kind of union that is not the one that the Lord established in Sacred Scriptures.”

In addition, Froilan Casas Ortiz, Bishop of Neiva and former secretary of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, said, according to La Nacion, “it hurts me to accept such claims that I do not share, I esteem Monsignor Juan Vicente a lot, but I cannot classify the apostles the way he did.”

Given the reactions, and given the wide broadcast of his remarks through the media, Cordoba Villota quickly minimized the facts. In a radio interview on Friday, May 15, he said he was misunderstood, and that some sentences could have been “unfortunate” due to the “colloquial language” he used. “I used an inadequate sentence for a bishop,” he said.

Soon after, at noon the same Friday, the official website of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia published a 'disclaimer' in which the Jesuit apologizes for what he said. “I apologize to those who might have felt offended or hurt by these unfortunate expressions, which cannot be given any theological or moral value,” he explained.

The text confirms in its first paragraph the doctrine of the Catechism on homosexuality: “I fully welcome, with firm and full conviction, the moral doctrine of the Catholic Church on homosexuality, which as a mere sexual orientation is not a sin, but it is rightly considered as objectively disordered. I also think that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and contrary to natural law. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. They cannot be approved under any circumstances.”

The bishop continued: “I reiterate that the statements made during that academic forum didn’t have the intention to contest or amend this solid and immovable moral position of our Church.” His intention, he says, was “to explain to the audience, mostly made up of leaders and members of the LGBT community, the respect that the Catholic Church has for every human person.”

“In order to explain to the attendees this reality – and not knowing that the media was present in the room – I allowed myself to use some colloquialisms that, outside the context of the academic meeting and the dialogue established with the audience, are clearly unfortunate,” he adds.

He ends with the following words: “This is the first official public meeting between a Colombian bishop and the LGBT community (…), which proves it is possible to approach those who think differently in order to establish a sincere and frank dialogue that leads us to take down the walls and discover each other as brothers. In that sense, as a bishop and a priest, I am pleased to have completed this important step of approach that I hope will open the way for other future meetings.”

Contact information:

Nuncio in Colombia
Archbishop Ettore Balestrero
Apartado Aereo 3740, Carrera 15, N. 36-33, Bogota, Colobia
Telephone: (57-1) 3200-289; 2880-705
Fax: 2851-817