All European bishops express solidarity with Archbishop attacked by topless women
BRUSSELS, MAY 2, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a letter sent to the head of the Catholic Church in Belgium all of Europe’s bishops expressed solidarity with Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard, who was doused with water in a violent attack by four topless lesbian activists last week.
The bishops were represented by the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE).
In the press release announcing the letter, the CCEE called Archbishop Leonard a “victim of an act of religious intolerance.”
The letter expressed their “sincere closeness and solidarity” with the Archbishop and condemned the aggressive hate crime.
At the same time, the CCEE said that it shared the position of the Belgian Bishops’ Conference, according to which “a democratic debate on the issues of society is only possible if everyone is allowed to express their ideas in mutual respect and freedom of expression.”
The incident captured the attention of the worldwide media since, in addition to the topless women, Archbishop Leonard shocked reporters and attendees alike with an astonishing display of gentleness as he remained seated, eyes closed in prayer while the topless women attacked him with shouts and curses and doused him with water.
Even Archbishop Leonard’s debate opponent at the university where the incident took place, despite his vehement disagreement with the Archbishop on his stance on homosexuality, protested the violent actions of the gay and abortion-activist women.
In an interview with the Beligian paper La Libre, Professor Guy Haarscher acknowledged that, the attack was indeed violent, especially against an “old man.” (Archbishop Leonard will turn 73 on May 6).
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“You know, having been pied, I can tell you that these things appear to be very violent,” said Haarscher. “Specifically, when you have a pie or liquid thrown in your face, you do not know what's inside. This is very, very frightening. Fortunately it was only water, but it could have been acid or something.”
Haarscher added that his own support for Archbishop Leonard’s right to express his opinions was noteworthy, “especially since I am in total agreement with [the women] and disagree with Leonard on homosexuality.”
As LifeSiteNews.com reported in its previous coverage of the April 23 attack, it’s not the first time Archbishop Leonard has been attacked for standing up for the Church’s teachings on homosexuality and abortion.
Since 2007 alone, he has been pied, denounced by the prime minister, and brought before courts for his teaching on the dangers of homosexual acts to body and soul.
Archbishop Leonard’s calm and prayerful demeanor in the face of the attack won him his audience according to his debate opponent.
Prof. Haascher said that seeing the calm reaction to the attack “immediately attracted the sympathy of an audience that it was not really favorable...as you can imagine.”
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