Belgian Archbishop Calls AIDS Nature's Revenge

By Bridgette P. Lavictoire
Lez Get Real
October 16, 2010

Insert foot, chew until you hit knee, that appears to be what Archbishop Andre-Joseph Leonard has done with the release of a new translation of a book in which he says that AIDS is a "sort of inherent justice" stemming from the "mistreatment of the profound nature of human love." He means homosexuality, of course. Never mind that the first known AIDS cases were actually among heterosexuals in the United States, but that it was not until the 1980's and its concentration in the gay community that it was isolated and diagnosed, or that it hits huge numbers of straight couples every year.

This controversy is coming on the heels of a detailed report into the abuse of hundreds of children by Catholic priests and bishops over the decades in Belgium, including the detailing of the sexual molestation of one Catholic priest of his nephew.

Senator Wouter Beke, chairman of the governing Christian Democratic and Flemish party stated "This statement is far removed from Christian charity." The party has had close ties to the Church over the years.

Prime Minister of the Wallonia region Rudy Demotte stated "If God exists, maybe he could provide a punishment for someone who utters such nonsense." Doctors and researchers at Antwerp's Institute of Tropical Medicine's AIDS center called the comments 'offensive' and 'absolutely medieval'. Jean-Marie de Meester, a lawyer, has lodged a complaint with Belgium's Centre for Equal Opportunities stating that the Archbishop's words were hate-speech against the LGBT Community.

Archbishop Leonard was appointed by Pope Benedict in January and is well known for his conservative views. He claims that his comments on AIDS are misunderstood. He posted a recorded comment on the church website stating "When we adopt a form of behaviour that is not right, there are consequences that let us know that it's not correct. At the beginning of this epidemic, if I've understood the scientific articles, there were risky practices, sex with multiple partners, anal relations instead of vaginal which allowed this proliferation to happen. So we can say, if we want to reason in that way, that nature is taking revenge if you don't use your body correctly."

Actually, despite stressing his 'sympathy' and 'solidarity' for all AIDS sufferers and calls for them to be 'treated in the best possible conditions', Leonard is flat wrong since AIDS, at the beginning of the epidemic, began with people eating monkeys infected with the primate version of the disease, and many of the originally infected individuals were straight who had vaginal intercourse. In other words, his understanding of the epidemic is about thirty years behind the times.

His comments on AIDS were first published in a collection of interviews published in French in 2006. The new Dutch-language edition has just been published, and they included those phrases. Leonard is asked if he believes that AIDS is punishment from God, but he says 'no' adding that it is just that nature is reacting against the abuse of the environment. He actually says "when we mistreat human love, it ends up perhaps getting its revenge." It should then be rather enjoyable for him to explain why goats have not been wiped off the face of the planet given that they engage in homosexual behaviors too. As do just about every animal out there.

Leonard has stated in the past that "homosexuality is not the same as normal sex, in the same way that anorexia is not a nomal appetite." He has taken the draconian line on abortion, contraception and in-vitro fertilization.

Catholicism is the dominant religion in Belgium with sixty percent of people identifying themselves as Catholics, but only fourteen percent are attending Mass regularly.

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