Topless Activists Soak Belgian Archbishop in Protest Against Catholic Church
Topless activists from the feminist Ukrainian protest group FEMEN made headlines this week for protesting against the Catholic Church by pouring water over Belgian archbishop Andre-Jozef Leonard during a debate in Brussels, Belgium, the Felmish newspaper the Standaard reports.
Four members of FEMEN entered an auditorium at Universite libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in the Belgian capital. They held signs that read, "Stop Homophobia" and "Anus Dei Is Coming." The ultra-conservative website Life Site News also points out that the women had slogans written across their chest. One phrase read, "my body rules." According to the newspaper, Leonard was debating on the blasphemy and freedom of speech when the topless feminists dumped water over him.
The incident only lasted a few minutes but Life Site News notes that Leonard remained calm during the attack; he didn't move and sat soaking wet with his eyes closed as he prayed. After the women were apprehended he kissed the image of the Virgin Mary on one of the water bottles the half-naked protesters used to douse him.
"This was aimed against Mr. Léonard's homophobia, but we also don't agree with other positions, like the one on abortion," one of the activists said. In a March interview with Le Soir, Leonard said homosexuality is a "given that people find themselves and whose origins remain somewhat mysterious." He also said that gay people should never have sex.
On FEMEN's French Facebook page, the organization wrote, "if André Léonard has decided to inflict the punishment of abstinence and celibacy upon himself, Femen does not tolerate that he wants to impose that chastity on the gay community as the only remedy to what he defines as a disease."
Though the Belgian confederation of bishops sharply criticized the protesters and FEMEN for the incident, they will not press charges.
This wasn't the first time Leonard was attacked because of his views on the LGBT community. Life Site News points out he came under fire in 2007 for saying homosexuality is "abnormal" and was charged with an offense of anti-racisim in Belgium. A year later, however, he was cleared of homophobia charges. But in 2010, LGBT rights groups took aim at Leonard and slammed him for saying AIDS is a consequence of risky sexual behavior, including gay sexual activity. Additionally, in 2011, gay rights activists threw a custard pie in the archbishop's face.
It should come as no surprise that the religious right were up in arms over FEMEN's actions. When Life Site News reported the story, readers left more than 500 comments, many condemning the topless protesters.
"These 'women' are working for Satan. May God change their hearts," one user named Chris Giebler wrote. "my prayer are with you archbishop you were wonderful. and may those women one day come back to the faith," another said.
"Demonic obsession (and possibly possession) is on full public display at this event for those who care to discern what is happening via the radicalism of homosexuality," someone else wrote. "These are possessed souls. Pray and fast for them. The Holy Father has said that same sex unions of any kind are of Satan. See how disturbed Satan is," user Isabel Killian said.