2013-04-29 Vatican Radio(Vatican Radio) In a letter sent to the Archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Mgr André-Joseph Léonard, victim of an act of religious intolerance on Tuesday 23 April during a conference at the Free University of Brussels, the CCEE Presidency has expressed to the Archbishop its “sincere closeness and solidarity” and condemned these aggressive forms of religious intolerance.
At the same time, the Presidency re-affirmed that it shared the position of the Belgian Bishops’ Conference, according to which “a democratic debate on the issues of society is only possible if everyone is allowed to express their ideas in mutual respect and freedom of expression”.The Belgian bishops have denounced the incident during which the Archbishop of Malines -Brussels was surprised on stage, where he was making an intervention, by topless activists of the FEMEN group who threw bottles in the shape of the Virgin Mary filled with water at him. Archbishop Leonard’s only reaction was to remain in prayer until calm returned to the hall.
Archbishop Leonard and Guy Haarscher, honorary professor at the university, were giving a lecture on the theme "Blasphemy: offense or freedom of expression". "The attitude of some people last night completely lack the credibility and respect of citizenship and is in total contradiction with the theme of the debate, and how the Catholic Church wants to engage in such a debate in a pluralistic context" the bishops note in a statement released April 24.
They prelates recall a "democratic debate on social issues is possible only if we allow everyone to present his or her ideas in mutual respect and freedom of expression”.