Wednesday, April 24, 2013
"Scantily clad activists of feminist group Femen invaded a conference at a university in Brussels. During the act, demonstrators threw water on the Archbishop of Mechelen-Brussels, Andre-Joseph Leonard. The priest did not react and avoided looking at the activists. The protest was against homophobia, according to international agencies. At the end of the demonstration, the archbishop kissed a picture of the Virgin Mary to leave the room. Born in Ukraine and with subsidiaries in several countries (including Brazil and nations with a Muslim majority), the Femen often campaigning for the rights of women and minorities. One of their banners is the defense of gay marriage."
BRUSSELS (AFP) - The Catholic Church in Belgium on Wednesday angrily denounced Femen topless protesters who targeted its primate at a conference though the archbishop himself remained composed and apparently at prayer throughout.
The four protesters leapt out of their seats at a debate on blasphemy and freedom of expression held at the Brussels' Free University (ULB) campus Tuesday evening, baring their breasts and squirting water at Archbishop Andre Leonard as they accused him of homophobia.
Security guards threw the women out of the hall within minutes as the archbishop remained quietly seated, his hands crossed apparently in prayer.
The Belgian religious leader, a known conservative, has often been criticised for his stand on gay issues.
In March he said homosexuals should practise "a form of celibacy and abstinence" and welcomed protests in France against its gay marriage legislation.
The Church in a statement denounced "the attitude of a few persons... in total contradiction with the theme of the debate and with the manner in which the Catholic Church hopes for dialogue".
"At the end of the demonstration, the archbishop kissed a picture of the Virgin Mary to leave the room."
Link to AFP story