Belgian Bishop Hauled before Court for Church Teaching on Homosexuality Cleared of Charges
By Jenna Murphy
NAMUR, June 5, 2008, (LifeSiteNews.com) - A Belgian bishop has been cleared of charges laid against him by a homosexual activist group.
Monsignor André-Mutien Léonard, Bishop of Namur, was charged with homophobia under the pretext of the country’s 2003 Anti-Discrimination Act.
The accusations against Bishop Léonard pertained to his comments in an interview that appeared earlier this year in TéléMoustique, a weekly magazine in Belgium.
In the April 2008 interview, Bishop Léonard, when asked his stance on homosexuality, stated that his position was that of the famous early psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud’s - that homosexuality is the result of hindered sexual development.
"Homosexuals have encountered a blockage in normal psychological development, rendering them abnormal. I know very well that in a few years, I could be imprisoned for holding this position, but this could mean a bit of a vacation for me", said Bishop Léonard.
Bishop Léonard was met with criticism when many interpreted his comments to mean that homosexuals were ‘abnormal’ as persons, and he was quick to clarify that it is their behaviour that is abnormal, not their very person.
Last week, after the reading of the interview in question, the Belgian courts ruled that, though the Bishop’s comments may have been hurtful to homosexuals, they were not severe enough to be considered slander or discrimination.
This type of situation is not new to Belgium. In 2004, similar allegations were made against the late Cardinal Gustaaf Joos of Brussels. At that time, the 80-year-old Cardinal was threatened with a lawsuit by the Center for Equal Opportunities and Struggle against Racism.
While actively upholding the Church’s teachings on loving the sinner but not the sin when it comes to homosexuality, Cardinal Gustaaf Joos told a Belgian magazine, "I am willing to write in my own blood that of all those who call themselves lesbian or gay, a maximum of 5 to 10 percent are effectively lesbian or gay. All the rest are just sexual perverts." He added, "Real homosexuals don’t wander in the streets in colorful suits. Those are people who have a serious problem and have to live with that. And if they make a mistake they will be forgiven. We have to help these people and not judge them."