A prominent religious leader in Ukraine who blamed the Coronavirus pandemic on same-sex marriage has tested positive for the virus, his church announced.
Patriarch Filaret, 91, the leader of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church - Kyiv Patriarchate, contracted COVID-19 and was subsequently hospitalized, the church confirmed a statement shared on its website and on Facebook over the weekend.
In a follow-up statement released on Tuesday September 8, 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.
Back in March, Patriarch Filaret in an interview with a local Ukrainian TV station 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."
Following Filaret’s controversial comments, 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.
According to the foundation, the suit sought an apology from Filaret for disseminating false information and a correction from the TV station that aired his controversial remarks.