Raul Vera Lopez, the Catholic bishop of Saltillo, Mexico, has criticized homophobes, calling them “sick.”

Vera, a vocal gay rights supporter, was asked in an interview with El Pais: “Not long ago you baptized the daughter of a lesbian couple. What do you think about homosexuality?”

“That is a topic that we have refused to address,” Vera responded. “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,” he added.

In 2011, the Vatican summoned Vera to Rome to inquire about a gay-inclusive group of Catholics headed by Noe Ruiz.

Vera publicly affiliated his diocese with the group and sponsored its film festivals, which led to harsh criticism from the Peru-based Catholic news agency ACI Prensa.

When he returned, Vera said that Vatican officials simply made observations about his work, but the bishop did not elaborate. He vowed to continue his outreach to the LGBT community.

“I will not abandon these children,” he said at the time of children with gay parents. “We cannot abandon people who depend on us.”

“For a long time, Raul Vera was the Catholic Church's black sheep,” El Pais wrote, “the old-fashioned left-winger. 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.”