A religious leader who previously blamed the coronavirus pandemic on LGBTQ people has been hospitalized with complications from COVID-19.
Ukraine’s Patriarch Filaret – the leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, one of the biggest branches of Christianity in the country that claims it has 15 million followers in the nation of 42 million people – has pneumonia, according to media reports.
“We inform that during planned testing, His Holiness Patriarch Filaret of Kiev and All Rus-Ukraine tested positive for COVID-19,” the church said in a statement. “Now His Holiness Bishop is undergoing treatment at a hospital.”
In a later message posted to Facebook, the church said that Filaret, 91, has been diagnosed with “lung inflammation.”
This past April, Filaret went on television and said that the pandemic is “God’s punishment for the sins of men, the sinfulness of humanity.”
“First of all, I mean same-sex marriage,” he continued. At the time, the countries that were hardest hit by the pandemic were China, Iran, and Italy, none of which have legalized marriage equality.
Filaret later doubled down on his words, saying that they were “consistent with Ukrainian laws.” Homosexuality is not illegal in Ukraine.
Amnesty International Ukraine rebuked his statements, calling them “very harmful because they could lead to increased attacks, aggression, discrimination and acceptance of violence against certain groups.”