Mexican bishop Raúl Vera, one of the strongest advocates for LGBT people within the Roman Catholic Church, is speaking out again, this time saying, “People who say homosexuals are sick are sick themselves.”
Vera, the bishop of Saltillo in northern Mexico, made the statement in an interview published Monday in the Spanish and Latin American newspaper El País. He did not go so far as to endorse same-sex marriage, but he took a more progressive stance than is common in his church.
The interviewer said, “Not long ago you baptized the daughter of a lesbian couple. What do you think about homosexuality?” Vera responded, “That is a topic that we have refused to address. The people who say homosexuals are sick are sick themselves. The Church needs to come to them not with condemnation, but with dialogue. We cannot cancel out a person’s richness just because of his or her sexual preference. That is sick, that is heartless, that is lacking common sense.”
The church’s official stance is that LGBT people deserve respect and compassion, but it strongly opposes homosexual acts and same-sex marriage.
Vera also took a stance, similar to Pope Francis’s, that opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage should not be the church’s only priorities. He said he considers abortion murder, but added, “Abortion, just like same-sex marriage, has served us [as] subterfuge to tell ourselves that we in the Church have our morals. It is very easy to go against a woman who has an abortion, it poses no trouble and we have support from the ultraconservative right. When there was a national campaign against abortion here, I organized rosary recitations to reflect on the defense of the lives of migrants, miners and women as well as the unborn. But we are hypocrites. It would seem that the only moral rules deal with condemning same-sex couples and abortions. You do that and you’re the perfect Christian.”
El País notes that in the past, Vera’s advocacy for oppressed people, including gay people and the poor, had gotten him into trouble with the church’s hierarchy. In 2011, when Benedict XVI was pope, the Vatican investigated Vera’s work with a gay group. But much has changed under Pope Francis’s leadership.
“For a long time, Raúl Vera was the Catholic Church’s black sheep, the old-fashioned left-winger,” the article reads. “But that was until the ideological earthquake represented by the new pope, Francis I, gave renewed relevance to his words. Now, other bishops are suddenly turning to Vera for guidance.”
Read the full interview here.