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Pope appoints homophobic cardinal in Mexico, who thinks being gay is a ‘contagion’

Lily Wakefield November 29, 2020
pope appoints new homophobic cardinal in mexico

New Cardinal, Mexican Bishop Emeritus Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel of San Cristobal de Las Casas (R) receives his biretta hat from Pope Francis during a consistory to create 13 new cardinals, on November 28, 2020 at St. Peter's Basilica in The Vatican. (FABIO FRUSTACI/POOL/AFP via Getty)

Pope Francis appointed a staunchly homophobic new cardinal in Mexico, who believes that being gay is a spreading “contagion”.

Felipe Arizmendi is an 80-year-old prelate of the church in Mexico, who has served as a Catholic bishop since 1991, and was one of 13 new cardinals appointed by Pope Francis at the Vatican on Saturday (28 November).

According to Reuters, Arizmendi is known for his progressive views when it comes to Indigenous rights and migrants, and has spent decades ministering to Indigenous and poor communities in the south of Mexico.

However he is also known for his extremely conservative and homophobic views on sexuality.

In May, 2016, the former president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, signed an initiative to amend the country’s constitution and legalise same-sex marriage on a federal level.

At the time, Arizmendi said in a Sunday message that if a same-sex couple wants to live together, “they are free to do so, even if morally it is not well accepted”.

He added: “Call these unions equal weddings, marital co-existence, marital partnership or otherwise, but please don’t call them marriage.”

Arizmendi went on to describe being gay as a “contagion” that was spreading to the Indigenous communities he ministered to.

“Before there wasn’t this problem of homosexuality, but today it is occurring because of the contagion from urban communities, from universities and from the media.

“Some say that homosexuality is a natural thing. If it were natural, it would also be there in all Indigenous communities, and it isn’t.”

If the law had been approved, it would also have extended adoption rights to all same-sex couples in Mexico.

On this point, the bishop said: “Children need the two figures: female and male, that is a children’s right, not discrimination against homosexuals, that is not homophobia, it is respect for human nature.” 

The initiative by Nieto was rejected, and the legalisation of same-sex marriage remains up to individual Mexican states.

Arizmendi also previously caused outrage when he blamed child sex abuse within the Catholic church on television and porn.

In 2010 he faced severe backlash for saying during a meeting of bishops in Mexico City: “With so much invasion of eroticism, sometimes it’s not easy to stay celibate or to respect children.

“If on television and on the Internet and in so many media outlets there is pornography, it is very difficult to stay pure and chaste.

“Obviously when there is generalised sexual freedom it’s more likely there could be cases of pedophilia.”

More: Cardinal, Catholic Church, Felipe Arizmendi, Mexico, Pope Francis

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