ALCALÁ DE HENARES, Spain (LifeSiteNews) – Spanish officials this week dropped a probe into the Diocese of Alcalá de Henares, led by Bishop Juan Antonio Reig Plà, over allegations of conducting illegal “conversion therapy,” marking yet another legal victory for the conservative Spanish bishop.
The Diocese of Alcalá de Henares, located in a suburb of Madrid, had been accused of violating a law passed by the regional government of Madrid against “LGTBphobia.” The law bans what it describes as “conversion therapy,” as well as “discriminatory” and “degrading” statements toward homosexuals and so-called “transgender” people.
A journalist from left-wing Spanish newspaper El Diario had approached the diocese three years ago, posing as a person seeking to abandon his homosexuality. He later published a report saying that the diocesan Center for Family Counseling encouraged him to give up homosexual behavior and told him that his homosexual orientation could have been caused by sexual abuse.
LGBT activists seized on the article as evidence that the Alcalá de Henares diocese violated Madrid’s “LGTBphobia” law, LifeSiteNews reported at the time. The Province of Madrid opened a probe into the diocese’s counseling of same-sex attracted people after the El Diario report and investigated an employee who allegedly offered therapy for homosexuality.
But the government announced this week that it will not sanction the diocese, InfoCathólica reported, as the main evidence for the charges consisted of recordings and other documentation provided by a journalist without the consent of people involved. The Diocese of Alcalá de Henares could have faced fines of up to 45,000 euros if found in violation of Madrid’s LGBT regulations.
A Spanish civil rights official informed Spain’s Congress of Deputies, however, that he will continue to pay “extreme attention” to the diocese for “any indication of discrimination based on sexual orientation,” according to InfoCathólica.
Bishop Reig Plà, backed by the Spanish Episcopal Conference, vigorously opposed the probe and declared to parishioners in 2019 that he would be willing to accept “martyrdom” to defend the Church’s mission and teaching regarding sexuality.
By all accounts, Bishop Daniel Fernández Torres' diocese of Arecibo in Puerto Rico is flourishing because of his adherence to the perennial teachings of the Church.
But, without any formal proceedings, Bishop Fernández Torres has been summarily 'relieved' of his episcopal duties allegedly because he championed conscience rights in the face of a Church vaccine mandate in Puerto Rico.
Please SIGN this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres now.
To be clear, COVID-19 is a serious disease, oftentimes with debilitating consequences, or worse, for those who contract it.
However, all coronavirus vaccines currently authorized for use in the U.S. and Puerto Rico have been tested on or produced with cell lines of aborted babies. And, the vaccines have been linked to serious side effects, while none has yet completed long-term testing.
Given the complexity of this issue, the Church has determined that getting vaccinated is a matter of personal discernment which each individual must make after informing his or her conscience.
As such, the Church teaches that there is no moral obligation to be vaccinated. Indeed, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Church's teaching authority where faith and moral are concerned, issued a statement to that effect in December, 2020.
Specifically, the CDF's, “Note on the Morality of Using Some Anti-COVID-19 Vaccines,” of December 17, 2020, n. 5 states: “At the same time, practical reason makes evident that vaccination is not, as a rule, a moral obligation and that, therefore, it must be voluntary.”
Therefore, it would appear that for simply restating the current teaching of the CDF and for opposing his brother bishops in Puerto Rico on this seminal matter of conscientious objection, Rome is now attempting to "cancel" Bishop Fernández Torres.
This is wrong, unfair and discriminatory!
And, Bishop Fernández Torres is hardly the first bishop to defend Church teaching on conscientious objection on the issue of mandatory vaccination. Both the Colorado and South Dakota bishops' conferences released similar statements, and like Bishop Fernández Torres, they also offered to validate religious exemptions for member of their flock who asked to be exempted from vaccination.
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres.
For his part, Bishop Fernández Torres, 57, a staunch defender of life and family, protested his removal as "totally unjust" in a statement released Wednesday (3/9/2022).
The bishop, who led his diocese for nearly 12 years, noted that Pope Francis’ apostolic delegate to Puerto Rico verbally requested that he resign, but said that he refused to do so, as he "did not want to become an accomplice of a totally unjust action."
"No process has been made against me," Bishop Fernández Torres wrote, "nor have I been formally accused of anything, and simply one day the apostolic delegate verbally communicated to me that Rome was asking me to resign."
“A successor of the apostles is now being replaced without even undertaking what would be a due canonical process to remove a parish priest,” the bishop added.
“I was informed that I had committed no crime but that I supposedly ‘had not been obedient to the pope nor had I been in sufficient communion with my brother bishops of Puerto Rico,’” he said. “It was suggested to me that if I resigned from the diocese I would remain at the service of the Church in case at some time I was needed in some other position; an offer that in fact proves my innocence.”
Please SIGN and SHARE this urgent petition to Pope Francis urging him to reinstate Bishop Fernández Torres. Thank you!
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Pope Francis abruptly removes faithful bishop who opposed COVID vaccine mandates' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-francis-abruptly-removes-faithful-bishop-who-opposed-covid-vaccine-mandates/
'Puerto Rico bishop supports conscience objections to COVID vaccines, allows priests to sign exemptions' - https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/puerto-rico-bishop-supports-conscience-objections-to-covid-vaccines-allows-priests-to-sign-exemptions/
**Photo Credit: Diocese of Arecibo
In the same address, the bishop explained that the diocese’s Center for Family Counseling helps people find spiritual healing for “truly great wounds” of abuse.
“What do we do at the Center for Family Counseling? We assist those who come freely to seek help, whether it is personal, marital, family, and any other sort of situation that requires a word of counsel, of aid: pastoral, spiritual, offering accompaniment, in whatever situation,” he said.
“The Center for Family Counseling operates upon many keys: one of them is forgiveness, which is also for those who have cause you truly great wounds, who may have been your father or a brother, or who abused you in your childhood,” the bishop added. “Even with help from human science, if it is not with the help of God that a new heart is made, things will not be mended.”
Bishop Reig Plà has repeatedly been targeted by left-wing activists and politicians over his uncompromising defense of Catholic teaching and has faced several unsuccessful prosecutions. His opponents filed a criminal complaint against him in 2012 over comments he made during a Good Friday sermon, in which he said that people living in homosexual sin “find hell” in their lifestyles:
I would like to say a word to those people carried away by so many ideologies that end up failing to properly guide human sexuality. They think that since their childhood they have had an attraction to people of their same sex and, sometimes, to prove it they become corrupt and prostitute themselves or go to homosexual nightclubs. I assure you that (there) they find hell.
He sparked additional outrage among LGBT and socialist groups when he recommended therapy for homosexuals in a subsequent interview and said that homosexuality could be cured. The bishop later published testimonies of former homosexual individuals backing up his remarks.
A local judge ordered his comments investigated, though the prosecution ended in failure. Three socialist parties in the government of Alcalá de Henare also passed a resolution in 2012 demanding that Bishop Reig Plà be excluded from local government functions and calling on the Spanish bishops’ conference to remove him from his diocese.
A Spanish court in 2016 dismissed another case against the prelate, after feminists accused him of inciting “hatred” for comparing their pro-abortion activism to the Holocaust.