Prosecutors are investigating a Spanish archbishop for possible criminal hate speech because of remarks he made recently about the gay community.

The Valencia's provincial prosecutor's office said Friday it was studying a recent speech made by Valencia Archbishop Antonio Canizares in which he said "powers such as the gay empire" promoted the rise of movements against the Christian family.

Canizares also hit out at feminists and gender ideology.

The remarks raised much criticism and a regional LGBT group and 50 other groups filed a complaint.

News reports said the cardinal later issued a letter of apology, saying he had been misinterpreted. The prosecutors' office has six months to decide whether the case merits prosecution.

The offense is punishable by up to three years in prison.