A prominent Ukrainian church leader who previously said the COVID-19 pandemic was “God’s punishment” for same-sex marriage has tested positive for the virus.
Patriarch Filaret, head of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church–Kiev Patriarchate, is reportedly stable and undergoing treatment.
The church announced in a Facebook post on September 4 that Filaret had tested positive for COVID-19.
“His Holiness Patriarch Filaret is especially grateful to everyone who shows his love and support in prayers for his health,”
The church said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Today the state of health of Patriarch Filaret is stable, 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 and heal him from his illness.”
The 91-year-old made headlines in March when he told a Ukrainian TV channel that the coronavirus crisis was “God’s punishment for the sins of men, the sinfulness of humanity.”
“First of all, I mean same-sex marriage,” he added.
The Ukranian LGBTQ+ group Insight sued the leader following his comments, saying his words could potentially fuel hate and discrimination. The lawsuit called for an apology from Filaret and a retraction from him and the TV channel, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reported.