A leading voice in the Greek Orthodox church has urged tolerance for gays and lesbians in the church in the wake of Greece allowing civil unions for same-sex couples.
Chrysostomos Savvatos, Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Messinia, gave an interview to Tharros News in which he reminded Christians that homosexuals were as much children of God as they are.
‘Homosexuals, like all humans, are a creation of God and they deserve the same respect and honor, and not violence and rejection,’ Metropolitan 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.’
Metropolitan Chrysostomos voiced his religious opinion after Metropolitan Ambrosios of Kalavryta reacted to the passing of a law recognizing same-sex couples as domestic partners by encouraging violence against them.
‘Spit on them, beat them up, they are not human,’ Metropolitan Ambrosios had said in December.
In a follow up article Metropolitan Chrysostomos warned against the ‘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.’
However Metropolitan Chrysostomos restated that the Greek Orthodox 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.’
Metropolitan Chrysostomos is a professor of theology at the University of Athens and was ordained to be the metropolitan bishop of Messenia in 2007