Liberian Archbishop Signs Statement Linking Ebola and Homosexuality

Archbishop Lewis Zeiglier

Liberia’s top Catholic official join more than 100 religious leaders in linking that nation’s Ebola outbreak to homosexuality, lending his support to a prejudiced and potentially dangerous statement according to The Daily Observer.

Archbishop Lewis Zeiglier of Monrovia joined a Liberia Council of Churches meeting this week, which discussed a “spiritual response” to the epidemic that has claimed more than 1,000 lives in West Africa and caused a state of emergency in several nations. The meeting, a potential response to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s comments that ignorance and religious practices were contributing to Ebola’s spread, released a unanimous resolution which said in part:

“God is angry with Liberia, and that Ebola is a plague. Liberians have to pray and seek God’s forgiveness over the corruption and immoral acts (such as homosexualism, etc.) that continue to penetrate our society. As Christians, we must repent and seek God’s forgiveness.”

The resolution also suggested the government restrict movement for three days of fasting and prayer, something which Liberia’s Catholics had already done this week.

Being gay is illegal in Liberia and same-gender marriages are banned, which has been insufficient for some politicians and clergy. Legislation was introduced in 2012 that would have sentenced anyone convicted of being in such a marriage to death. A Catholic priest used his Easter homily to attack President Sirleaf’s silence on the question of marriage equality.

AmericaBlog points out that Archbishop Zeiglier himself harshly condemned lesbian and gay people in April, warning that God would punish Liberia if it allowed same-sex marriage:

“The Archbishop said Liberians are ‘whole-heartedly’ engaging themselves in this act and that is being promoted in the country.

“The Catholic Archbishop also stated: ‘Where are we going as Liberians if we are advocating for homosexuality? Are we not calling for curses upon ourselves? How will a man marry his fellow man, this is an abomination. These are the same things that brought down Sodom and Gomorrah.’ “

Negative comments against LGBT people are often made by members of the Catholic hierarchy, but Archbishop Zeiglier’s support for a resolution linking the deadly Ebola outbreak and homosexuality is particularly dangerous. In an anti-gay climate like Liberia’s, an archbishop’s words can easily be used to justify discrimination and violence against LGBT people. This is doubly true when an epidemic like Ebola has created a climate of intensified fear and people are seeking an easy scapegoat.

When several African bishops made anti-gay comments in May, essentially endorsing the discrimination of LGBT people, Bondings 2.0 asked how the Church can respond. At that time, we quoted CNN columnist LZ Granderson who called on Catholics to end their silence on anti-gay laws, writing:

“To move Pope Francis’ question from a global headline to global change, Christians must stop allowing silence to be the de facto weapon of choice against the senseless persecution of gay people.”

Looking for a first step to make your voice heard and counter voices like Archbishop Zeigliers? Participate (again if you have already) in the #PopeSpeakOut campaign, asking Pope Francis to condemn in no uncertain terms laws and language which encourages prejudice and violence against LGBT people. To find out more information and take action, click here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

16 replies
  1. pjnugent
    pjnugent says:

    Thirty years ago, or so, the head of the Knights of Columbus in the United States, published an editorial in the organization’s magazine blaming the AIDS epidemic on homosexuality and said we needed only to pray and eliminate homosexual acts to eradicate it. And now it’s ebola.

  2. Brian Kneeland
    Brian Kneeland says:

    It just proves that even Archbishops can be (and often are) foolishly ignorant of facts. And theologically incorrect. God does not punish us with disease – if he did – then murderers would automatically die, robbers would contract other diseases, etc. Disease is a result of original sin – not of some sin these people or others in this country may (or may not) be liable for!

  3. Michael Kelly
    Michael Kelly says:

    What this bishop has said constitutes heresy. The Catholic Church does NOT teach that God punishes anyone with earthquakes, plagues or famine. This is NOT the God of Jesus. Imagine the swift action from the Vatican if he had said women should be ordained! Just look at the trouble the Vatican is giving women religious for not toeing the party line on every detail. Something is deeply dysfunctional, deeply disordered about the men who claim to run the church. People may well be brutalized or killed because of this bishop’s heretical words. Where is the CDF when they could actually make a difference? And yes, where is Pope Francis?

  4. A Koroma
    A Koroma says:

    This is stupidity at the highest level. This is pure ignorance and religious fanaticism. This kind of religious perception has no place in Christendom.

  5. Friends
    Friends says:

    I absolutely agree with those who are saying that Pope Francis needs to deal with this heretical craziness — and he needs to do it STAT! He’s been the most wonderful and inspirational Pope we’ve seen since Pope St. John XXIII. But THIS is where “the rubber meets the road”, as the old saying goes. Vicious and ignorant hate-spew coming from our Church’s own bishops absolutely demands a very direct and forceful Papal intervention. It should have happened when Paprocki performed a public exorcism to “Drive Satan” out of the souls of those Catholics who believe that CIVIL marriage rights — not even talking about religious marriage rights — ought to be a matter of civil law, under our American Constitution. This abominable hatefulness coming from certain bishops is really a test of the integrity and sincerity of Pope Francis. Let’s hope and pray that he rises to the challenge of dealing with their crazy antics.

  6. A. Koroma
    A. Koroma says:

    I still cant get it and I wonder, are these the kinds of spiritual leaders the Ms. President seek guidance from?

    May be they should open their doors as isolation centers to offer prayer over vaccine or better yet, let them go to isolation camps to offer prayers, may be God will give them (The Archbishops) spiritual power within 21 days incubation period..

    Not even the Pope can subscribe to their fanatic theological prophecy. This is an insult to all Liberians. Such ideas have no place in Liberian society. These are the wrong people giving spiritual guidance to a nation in distress – they are compounding a worsening situation with ignorance.


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