Semi-nude feminists attack Brussels archbishop

When four bare-breasted feminist demonstrators interrupted a lecture by Archbishop André-Marie Leonard of Brussels and drenched him with water, the archbishop kept his head bowed calmly in prayer.

Ironically, Archbishop Leonard was speaking at a conference on blasphemy and the limits of religious freedom, at the Free University of Brussels.

The topless protesters, members of the radical group Femen, wore jeans and boots, shouted insults and made violent gestures.

They had slogans painted across their chests and backs, with the phrases “My body, my rules” and “God loves lesbians”. They also carried a sign which read “Stop homophobia”.

They carried water bottles — similar those used by pilgrims at Lourdes — with which they soaked the archbishop before being removed.

After the incident, the archbishop picked up one of the bottles, which was shaped in the image of the Virgin Mary, and kissed it as a sign of reparation.

“He was very calm and maintained a position of prayer. I have to believe he was praying for us,” one observer told Le Soir newspaper.

According to Femen, the attack was spurred by an interview in which Archbishop Leonard suggested celibacy for all single persons, including homosexuals.

In 2010 and 2011, Archbishop Leonard was the target of attacks for his statements against homosexual acts and abortion. These included being repeatedly targeted with a custard pie thrust in his face.

The Catholic bishops of Belgium issued a statement expressing dismay at the latest incident and “solidarity with our colleague”.

The bishops’ statement noted that “a democratic debate on social questions is not possible unless it allows everyone to expound his ideas with mutual respect and freedom of expression.”


Catholic News Agency

Spiegel Online


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