Perhaps proving that irony is a bigger danger than the pandemic, a church leader who blamed the virus on same-sex marriage has got his just desserts.
A Ukrainian church leader who blamed the “sinfulness of humanity”, most notably same-sex marriage, for the resulting COVID-19 pandemic has since contracted the virus himself.
Patriarch Filaret, the 91-year-old leader of the prominent Ukrainian Orthodox Church – Kyiv Patriarchate has been hospitalised after contracting the virus, the church confirmed Friday in a statement shared on its website and on Facebook. On Tuesday, the church said its leader’s health is “stable” as “treatment continues.”
“We ask you to continue to pray for His Holiness Patriarch Filaret, so that the All-Merciful and Almighty Lord God will heal the Patriarch,” the statement continued.
This isn’t the first time Filaret has made headlines in relation to the global coronavirus pandemic, which has taken the lives of nearly 3,000 people in Ukraine. In a March interview with a local Ukrainian TV station, he reportedly called the crisis “God’s punishment for the sins of men and sinfulness of humanity.”
“First of all, I mean same-sex marriage,” he added. “This is the cause of the coronavirus.”
The Ukrainian LGBTQ rights group Insight filed a lawsuit against him in April.
“Our aim is to show people that there is no longer place for such statements from church leaders in Ukraine,” Insight’s leader, Olena Shevchenko, told Thomson Reuters Foundation at the time.
The foundation announced they sought an apology from Filaret for disseminating false information as well as a correction from the TV station that aired his controversial remarks.
Maria Guryeva, a spokeswoman for Amnesty International Ukraine, brought to light the detrimental effects such speech can fuel. She told Thomson Reuters Foundation that Filaret’s statements “are very harmful because they could lead to increased attacks, aggression, discrimination and acceptance of violence against certain groups.”
In April, the Orthodox Church of the Kyiv Patriarchate responded to Insight’s lawsuit against Filaret, issuing a statement saying, “As the head of the church and as a man, the Patriarch has the freedom to express his views, which are based on morality.”
On the world stage, Europe holds the reputation as the most progressive continent when it comes to LGBTQ issues. However, not all European countries have subscribed to the notion of queer-friendliness, and Ukraine is one of them. In its annual ranking of Europe’s most queer-friendly nations, the European LGBTQ rights group ILGA-Europe has listed Ukraine at 35 among 49 countries.