New Belgian archbishop faces legal threats over AIDS remarks
BRUSSELS, December 10, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The new archbishop of Brussels, Andre-Joseph Leonard, is being targeted by homosexualist groups, and has been condemned by the country’s prime minister, after he said that AIDS is a consequence of risky sexual behavior, including homosexual sexual activity.
Homosexualist groups have accused Archbishop Leonard of “homophobia,” after he pointed out in a book released in October that “AIDS at the beginning multiplied through sexual behaviour with all sorts of partners or else through anal rather than vaginal sexual rapports.”
“When you mistreat the environment it ends up mistreating us in turn,” he continued. “And when you mistreat human love, perhaps it winds up taking vengeance.”
“All I’m saying is that sometimes there are consequences linked to our actions. I believe this is a totally decent, honourable and respectable stance.”
A lawyer acting on behalf of a homosexualist lobby group has filed a formal complaint against Leonard for “homophobic statements” and “violating an anti-discrimination law.”
Yves Leterme, Belgium’s nominally Catholic prime minister, is among those who have condemned Leonard in the ensuing furor. Recently a man ran up to the archbishop during a service at the Brussels cathedral and shoved a cherry pie in his face, apparently in connection with the controversy.
Following the massive media uproar over the bishop’s comments, the archdiocese published a letter on November 5, in which Leonard clarified that he had never intended to say that homosexuals themselves were “abnormal” and denied that he had implied that AIDS was a divine or human punishment. He compared active homosexuals with people who continue to smoke despite seeing clear health warnings on cigarette packages
He reiterated his belief that AIDS “could possibly be considered … a sort of intrinsic justice,” but he stressed that he meant that the emergence of AIDS was a natural consequence of “risky sexual behavior.”
On homosexuality, Archbishop Leonard said, “There is in the homosexual tendency and practice an orientation that is not coherent with the objective logic of sexuality.”
The fallout from the archbishop’s comments has included the abrupt resignation of his media spokesman, Juergen Mettepenningen, who described the bishop as a “loose cannon” in a press statement. He told an interviewer that Belgian Catholics need to be “encouraged,” right now: “If they see that their leader is only busy trying to convince people about topics like AIDS and homosexuality, then people aren’t receiving the respect they want from the archbishop.”
Leonard’s fellow bishops are also distancing themselves from him, with some actively searching for their own spokesman to represent their views separately, a practice that had been discontinued under Cardinal Danneels, the New York Times reports.
A group of academics at the notoriously liberal Catholic University of Louvain are circulating a petition calling for Leonard’s resignation from his post as the university’s chancellor, saying his remarks had brought “shame on the university.”
In addition to his orthodox Catholic views on sexual morality, Archbishop Leonard is well known for his defense of human life before birth. He was a speaker at the first ever March for Life in Brussels http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2010/mar/10032404 this year.
It is widely recognized that Leonard was chosen by Pope Benedict XVI as the new head of the Belgian Catholic Church, during a period of crisis, because of his forthright adherence to Catholic orthodoxy. He has been charged by the pope with the task of cleaning up the ultra-liberal Belgian Church, which http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/belgian-bishops-ignored-parents-on-grossly-sexually-explicit-catholic-catec has been hit hard by homosexual abuse scandals.
Leonard is well known to be the most “traditional” Catholic bishop in Belgium, with 35 of Belgium’s 71 current seminarians coming from his former diocese of Namur.
Leonard took office amid a scandal that broke out on the retirement of his predecessor Cardinal Godfried Danneels who is still being investigated http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-danneels-questioned-today-in-connection-with-abuse-cover-ups by civil authorities for his involvement in the cover-up of decades of homosexual abuse by a colleague, the former bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe. Danneel’s was considered one of Europe’s leading “liberals” in the episcopate, and he had openly supported the goals of the homosexualist movement.