By Chris Jewers For Mailonline and Reuters
Published: 08:59 BST, 8 September 2020 | Updated: 09:08 BST, 8 September 2020
A Ukrainian religious leader who blamed gay marriage for the spread of coronavirus has tested positive for Covid-19.
Patriarch Filaret, 91, who heads one of Ukraine's largest Orthodox congregations, is in hospital and in a stable condition after being diagnosed with the disease following routine testing.
Filaret has also developed pneumonia, according to the Ukrainian news website 112.international.
The Patriarch's diagnosis was confirmed on Friday in a statement posted on Facebook.
'We inform that during planned testing, His Holiness Patriarch Filaret of Kyiv and All Rus-Ukraine tested positive for Covid 19. Now His Holiness Bishop is undergoing treatment at a hospital,' the statement said.
Filaret is one of Ukraine's most prominent religious leaders, and claims to have 15 million followers among its 42 million people.
He is a renowned figure in the country, having led a split of the Ukrainian church from its Russian parent which had him defrocked and excommunicated.
But he was on the end of heavy criticism from LGBT groups in March for his comments, saying that the spread of the deadly virus was divine retribution for same-sex activity, which he sees as sinful.
Pictured: Patriarch Filaret of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Kiev's Patriarchy, who blamed the spread of Covid-19 on gay marriage, has tested positive for coronavirus himself
Filaret told Ukrainian national TV network Channel 4 that the epidemic was 'God's punishment for the sins of men, the sinfulness of