Francisco Cases said until now, the ‘saddest day of his life’ since moving to the region was when the aircraft destined for Gran Canaria exploded on take-off at Madrid-Barajas, killing all 154 passengers and crew and leading to Spanair going bust – but that this has now been superseded by Monday’s ‘drag-queen gala’ at Spain’s largest carnival.
The all-male participants in one of the groups entering the contest had dressed up as the Virgin Mary, one of whom was attached to a cross, and they won hands-down.
Already, over 20,200 people have condemned the spectacle as being in poor taste and called for the organisers to be held accountable.
Bishop Cases said his ‘eyes filled with tears’ watching the video, which caused him ‘deep sadness and pain’.
“The first thing that sprouted in my heart was to ask our Saviour and His blessed mother for forgiveness for them,” Cases says.
“Forgive my people, oh Lord. Forgive your children, oh, Mother. Forgive me, for I am responsible for them in your eyes. Forgive all those who, despite being part of the Christian community, have not borne due witness.”
The bishop says he wonders whether there being ‘no limits to freedom of expression’ and the notion that ‘anything goes’ means that ‘nothing is really true’.
“We have a lot to think about,” he concluded.
Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the Spanair Victims’ Association has expressed her ‘indignation’ at the bishop’s comparison of a drag-queen parade with an air disaster that left no survivors.
“We cannot just let this ride,” she storms, saying Cases has ‘clearly forgotten what the Spanair tragedy meant’.
“Couldn’t you have mentioned us on all the other occasions when you had the chance instead of in the context of something that has caused you even more sadness than the death and destruction, not just of 154 people, but of their families and friends?” demands Association chair Pilar Vera.
She admits that the bishop has allowed the Association to hold a memorial service for flight JK5022 victims every August 20 in Las Palmas Cathedral, but adds that he does not give the sermon since ‘his superior status is reserved for services and events attended by top-end public figureheads’.
“In all this time, the Bishop of the Canary Islands has never addressed this Association or sent any messages of support,” Sra Vera points out.
The bishop has since apologised to the family members of the Spanair victims.