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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 15, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 03
Greek bishops spar over LGBT rights
Section One
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Greek bishops spar over LGBT rights

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

A prominent Greek Orthodox bishop has repudiated remarks by a fellow bishop who said that Gay people 'are not human.'

In an interview with Tharros News, Bishop Chrysostomos of Messinia said that Orthodox Christians should not reject their LGBT neighbors.

'Homosexuals, like all humans, are a creation of God, and they deserve the same respect and honor, and not violence and rejection,' Chrysostomos said.

'We shouldn't forget the way Christ responded to the sinful woman, according to the Gospels, which became his word. 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.'

'That canon should be our guiding principle for the way in which we should handle every person and fellow human, regardless of their otherness or differences. The church doesn't reject people.'

In addition to presiding over the diocese of Messinia, Chrysostomos is also chair of the Theology Faculty at the University of Athens, and one of the Greek Orthodox Church's leading intellectuals. His remarks were a slap at fellow bishop Ambrosios of Kalavryta.

In the wake of a new law legalizing same-sex civil partnerships, Ambrosios said Christians should 'spit on [Gay people], beat them up. They are not human.'

Ambrosios is known to be close to Greece's neo-Nazi Golden Dawn Party, which has been implicated in several Gay bashings in Athens. Golden Dawn's leaders are currently on trial for racketeering.

In an article following up on his interview, Chrysostomos criticized other bishops who take 'the moralistic approach to the ethics of relationships - those who judge, criticize, blame, and stigmatize everyone else except themselves.

'They consider themselves as judges of the people and try to criminalize all forms of sin, to confirm the supposed 'purity' of their lives and their own sinlessness, and forget that & we are all in one way or another people of sin and of the fall.'

Chrysostomos stopped short of endorsing same-sex relationships, however. In his article, he restated the Church's opposition to same-sex marriage.

The Church has a 'pastoral obligation to indicate its opposition to any form of cohabitation which contradicts or weakens the standard of living and co-experiencing of the functionality of the family while alienating and tarnishing the sacramental character of marriage,' Chrysostomos said. This was not Chrysostomos's first clash with another bishop.

In 2010, when Pope Benedict XVI visited Cyprus, Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus said the Catholic Pope should not be welcomed in Orthodox countries. Chrysostomos publicly denounced Seraphim's views and called for more dialog between the two denominations.

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