At a gathering of Orthodox leaders last weekend, Archbishop Chrysostomos (right) of Cyprus commented took a stand against the "weakening moral integrity" of Christian churches around the world who have accepted and encouraged equal rights for LGBT persons. He proceeded to claim that religious leaders should do research and utilize "scientific findings" in order to condemn homosexuals further. He has, in effect, set off a firestorm of protest from Cyprus LGBT rights organizations.
Cyprus Mail reports:
“We should, in my opinion, position ourselves on issues of relaxation of morals increasingly promoted by secular, mostly Christian governments in what is considered the advanced world, and to which the Church’s reaction has been meagre thus far,” [Chrysostomos] told a meeting of hierarchs of the autocephalous Orthodox churches convened by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Istanbul. “When, for example, governments legalise not only plain civil partnership but ‘homosexual marriage’, the Church must be unequivocal in condemning homosexuality.”
His comments prompted a storm of protests on social media sites and condemnation from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) rights activist group ACCEPT-LGBT.
The group said that by adopting such positions the Church continued to “alienate itself further” from the real world, and warned that the Church’s position unwittingly encourages the marginalisation of vulnerable groups.
ACCEPT-LGBT cited Pope Francis's comments regarding his inability to judge homosexuals as evidence that the Archbishop's orthodox views are becoming outdated and out of sync with the modern world. They also noted that Cyprus has taken great strides in LGBT rights in recent years, including hosting their first ever gay pride parade coming up this May.
Savvides noted that significant steps have been made in ensuring rights equality, and that the government policy is to proceed with enacting the civil partnership bill, planned to be submitted to the House for discussion in April.
ACCEPT-LGBT’s statement argues that significant progress has been observed in societal attitudes towards LGBTs, citing research conducted in February 2014 suggesting that “53.3 per cent of Cypriot citizens accept civil partnership legislation.”
“The Church’s position against homosexuality is an old one. We need to move forward, we can’t look back”, said Savvides.
Archbishop photo via Cyprus Mail.