Phanar-Vatican promotion of LGBT ideology: What can Orthodoxy expect?

21 October 2022 19:21
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Phanar-Vatican promotion of LGBT ideology: What can Orthodoxy expect?

There is a struggle between supporters and opponents of the LGBT ideology in the Phanar and in the Vatican now. At what stage is this struggle and what is down the road?

LGBT and gender ideologies are whirling worldwide at a tremendous speed. More and more countries are legalizing same-sex marriages; the imposition of gay propaganda on society by the authorities of Western states is more and more aggressive; the number of people participating in gay parades is on the rise. This trend has also marked the religious sphere. In most Protestant denominations, LGBT ideology has also infiltrated churches. Homosexual priests, bishops, or even female bishops hardly cause any astonishment.

Until recently, the RCC "managed to withstand", but now a huge number of signals testify to the fact that the resistance of Catholics may be broken in the near future. The Pope makes ambiguous statements, while the Catholics of Germany explicitly and persistently demand the legalization of homosexuals by the Church. Similar trends occur in other countries of Western Europe. However, the most disturbing thing is that the same things also affect Orthodoxy. So far, it refers only to Phanariots.

In this article, we will summarize all the “LGBT trends” in Catholicism (including Ukrainian) and the Phanar as of the end of 2022.

Phanar

On July 9, 2022, in the suburbs of Athens, in the church of Panagia Faneromeni, the head of the Archdiocese of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in the United States, Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis), baptized the children of a homosexual couple. The UOJ devoted two publications to this event and the subsequent reaction to it: What does the baptism of Sodomite “family” children imply for Orthodoxy? and Phanar's reaction to the baptism of sodomites’ children.

A number of signs indicate that this baptism may be the opening of the Overton Window, which aims to test the ground for the legalization of sodomy. The proximity of the Phanar leadership to the US Democratic Party (which promotes LGBT and gender identity around the world) suggests that the Patriarchate of Constantinople intends to follow the “party policy” of legalizing homosexual ideology. Archbishop Elpidophoros is likely to have thrown a "touchstone" and will plan his next steps based on the feedback. So far, this feedback has been very ambiguous.

On July 18, 2022, the Synod of the Church of Greece protested to Archbishop Elpidophoros and also sent a corresponding letter to Patriarch Bartholomew, under whose canonical jurisdiction Archbishop Elpidophoros falls.

In the wake of the baptism by Archbishop Elpidophoros of the children of the gay couple, on July 28, 2022, the Holy Kinot of Mount Athos unanimously adopted a statement “in connection with the recent public speeches and positions of church clergy and even hierarchs, who give the impression that the Church can take any other form of family, except for the one established by the Holy Gospel.”

Also, the act of Archbishop Elpidophoros was criticized by many hierarchs and ordinary believers. Nevertheless, the National Herald agency reported that at a meeting of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople on July 21-22, 2022 (where the issue of baptizing children of sodomites was discussed), Patriarch Bartholomew, on the contrary, expressed support for Archbishop Elpidophoros. Moreover, this support was expressed contrary to the opinion of the majority of the Synodals.

The National Herald reported this as follows: “During a meeting of the Holy Synod, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew <...> received from the synodal hierarchs a huge number of comments, fears, revelations and complaints about the arbitrariness and actions of Archbishop Elpidophoros, which put the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the patriarch personally in a difficult position." The head of the Phanar listened to all these remarks and here’s what we have in the end: “Despite the opinion of the members of the Synod, the patriarch ignored this issue (the baptism of the children of a gay couple – Ed.) and did not allow anything about it to be included in the communiqué, making it clear that he was covering up and supporting Archbishop Elpidophoros. The patriarch is reported to have said that 'we cannot change archbishops in America every three years'," according to The National Herald.

In addition, the American news resource Religion News Service (RNS) published a keynote article by “Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Throne” John Chryssavgis, who is considered one of the closest Greek church leaders and theologians to Patriarch Bartholomew. In this article, John Chryssavgis actually calls on the Orthodox Church to reconsider its attitude towards sodomy. He argues that “the Orthodox Church is out of touch with reality and the world and lives in its own bubble” and asserts, “There are certain topics that Orthodox Christians are singularly uncomfortable broaching. Most prominent among these is homosexuality, which arouses much passionate emotion but little rational discourse.“ The Archdeacon inquires, “Are we afraid of admitting our own discomfort or embarrassment in discussing sexual principles or practices? Could it be time for a frank discussion about sex and gender in the church?”

As we can see, the reaction in the Patriarchate of Constantinople to the demonstration action of Archbishop Elpidophoros turned out to be ambiguous. But at the same time, the head of the American Archdiocese was not retired, his act was not officially condemned by the Phanar. Therefore, Archbishop Elpidophoros waited awhile and realized it was possible to move on.

On October 3, 2022, he gave a long interview to the Greek in.gr edition, in which, among other things, he touched upon the LGBT issue and his baptizing the sodomite couple's children. Archbishop Elpidophoros said the following:

“Today, we hierarchs cannot insist without arguments, express opinions or proclaim decisions without explanation. It is not enough in our time to circulate quotations or 'declarations' with gospel teachings, ‘throwing’ those who disagree with us or simply want to discuss it with us ‘into the fire’ of our harsh criticism. Dialogue with a different point of view has always helped the Church to delve into the teachings of the gospel and obligated it to speak the language of each age, thus avoiding marginalization. I would even say that today we theologians cannot support our views only by looking at the past, no matter how sacred and convincing it may be. We must also respect modern science, medicine and psychiatry."

The words in bold sound like a challenge to the Biblical understanding not only of sodomy, but also of a much wider range of issues where the demands of modern society run counter to the Logos.

Separate attention should be paid to the words that the Church, in determining its point of view, must “respect modern science, medicine and psychiatry.” This is nothing but the recognition of new "sources" of theology. The Church has always formulated its doctrine based on Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition. "Modern science, medicine and psychiatry" cannot be an argumentative pillar of the Church, if only because of its variability and volatility. Today science says one thing, but tomorrow this thing can be refuted by new theories, which in turn will lose their relevance the day after tomorrow. The Church has always formulated its dogma and moral norms on the basis of Divine Revelation and the ascetic experience of the Holy Fathers.

Also, Archbishop Elpidophoros spoke favorably about the recognition of women's right to abortion. Here is a quote: "We must support the right of women to decide on their own whether they want to become mothers." Of course, such an appeal was covered with a fig leaf, which was a remark that the position of the Church "emphasizes the sanctity of human life, born and unborn." But here the hierarch of Constantinople simply resorted to an uncomplicated logical scheme, which is recommended in various courses on how to persuade interlocutors in negotiations. The cliché looks like this: "yes, BUT." A quote in point: “Abortion has been a known method for thousands of years, but the Church has never supported it, nor has it been blessed by the Church. At the same time, however, we deeply believe in basic human freedoms.”

Now let's move on to the discussion of LGBT rights in Catholicism.

Vatican

In mid-August 2022, the German Synodal Way produced a 13-page report calling for LGBT and abortion supporters to be heard and no longer marginalized. “Among other things, the report notes that women, youth and believers who belong to the church but who share different views on issues such as same-sex marriage, contraception and abortion often feel ‘marginalized’ in their church communities, and more space should be provided for their voices to be heard,” cruxnow.com said about the document.

On September 20, 2022, Cardinal Josef De Kesel and some other Belgian bishops published a document titled “Being pastorally close to homosexual people is the duty of a Church that excludes no one.” It features a blueprint for an office of blessing same-sex marriages, including prayers, scripture reading, and a section in which the couple can "express how devoted they are to each other before God."

Moreover, these bishops announced that each diocese would appoint a “confessor” who would “look to the situation of homosexual people, their parents and families.” Reporting this news, the Nederlands Dagblad newspaper added its comment: "In doing so, they are going directly against the Vatican." However, this comment appears to be incorrect. Indeed, in March 2021, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an official explanatory note that the Catholic Church cannot give liturgical blessings to homosexual unions. At the same time, one of the supporters of the church “blessing” of sodomites, the Belgian Bishop Johan Bonny, said that this initiative was agreed with the Pope and that the pontiff supports the blessings of same-sex unions. “Now I know what he thinks about it. This is the most important thing for me. And I know that our recommendations for blessing gay couples, which we recently published, are in line with the opinion of Pope Francis,” said Johan Bonny.

This is consistent with the pontiff's repeated statements and actions in which he approves and encourages LGBT people. Just as an example: in 2018, Pope Francis spoke in the Vatican with a certain Juan Carlos Cruz, who relayed the pope's words: “You know, Juan Carlos, it doesn't matter. God created you this way. God loves you like this. The Pope loves you just the way you are, and you should love yourself and ignore what people say."

it seems that Pope Francis personally advocates the revision of the Church's teaching on sodomy, but has not yet been able to overcome the conservatism of the Roman Curia. Thus, according to media reports, back in 2014, i.e. almost immediately after his election, Pope Francis sought the adoption of a document that would radically change the attitude of the Roman Catholic Church towards gays and make it much more “LGBT-friendly”. But then the pope lacked the necessary votes of the bishops.

Of course, it cannot be said that LGBT supporters in Catholicism have already won. There are those who resist "progress".

On September 29, 2022 Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, gave an interview to Die Tagespost. In it, he reacted negatively to the initiatives of the German "Synodal Way" to recognize the female priesthood, LGBT rights and other liberal innovations. Moreover, Cardinal Koch compares this approach with what happened in Nazi Germany. “It scares me that this is happening, again, in Germany. For this phenomenon already took place during the time of the National Socialist dictatorship, when the so-called ‘German Christians’ saw a new revelation of God in the ‘Blood and Earth’ ideology and in the elevation of Hitler,” Koch emphasized. He stated his negative attitude to the fact that certain Catholic bishops adopt "new sources" of revelation "in addition to the sources of Scripture and Tradition."

The voice of Cardinal Kurt Koch calling to remain faithful to the Holy Scriptures, of course, is not the only one in Catholicism, but the trend is emerging. Now only certain representatives of the Catholic hierarchy of the older generation dare to protest it openly. For example, Kurt Koch is 72 years old. Elderly cardinals will pass away, there will be a change of generations, and the RCC will “fall”. Its structures (at least in the countries of Western Europe) are quite "susceptible" to the legalization of LGBT ideology. When that happens is only a matter of time.

If someone thinks that everything is different with Catholics in Ukraine, they are mistaken.

Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

The UGCC is part of the Catholic Church and naturally cannot stand aside from the processes taking place there. It is not yet clear which side (liberals or conservatives) the UGCC will eventually take, but a very recent scandal with the spread of gender ideology within the Ukrainian Uniates pushes to certain conclusions.

On October 10, 2022, the Churcher Telegram channel published a message that a manual is being distributed within the UGCC on how to work with representatives of different gender orientations in Catholic schools.

Brochure for Catholic schools. Photo: Churcher telegram channel

UGCC found it very useful for themselves as well. Here are a few quotes to illustrate what ideology is highly recommended for Catholic schools.

“Popular rhetoric around gender variance sometimes accepts perceptions of sex and gender that are inconsistent with a Christian understanding: that gender is something entirely separate from biological sex; that gender is arbitrarily assigned rather than (usually) a given aspect of the gift of life; and the concept that gender can be fluid and oscillate between a male or female gender identity according to a subjective personal choice.”

Anyone who has read the Bible, not to mention Catholic theologians, is well aware that there is no such thing as gender in Holy Scripture at all. Nor is there "a subjective personal choice between a man and a woman." The book of Genesis says very clearly and definitely: “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27). There are NO intermediate genders in Scripture. However, something in the Bible regarding gender can be found. This is a prohibition for men to wear women's clothes and vice versa. "A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this." (Deut. 22:5). Non-sex clothing style is the most common manifestation among transgender people. As you can see, the Bible contains a categorical prohibition on this and calls it an abomination.

Here is another quote: “Catholic schools must respect, protect and promote authentic human rights. It is unlawful to discriminate against a person on the grounds of their sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex.”

In other words, if the right to choose gender, which is included in the concept of authentic human rights, contradicts the commandments of God, then so much the worse it is for the commandments of God. Catholic schools must respect these very rights. Let us imagine that a teacher in a Catholic school would think of quoting the above ban on wearing clothes that are not appropriate for one's sex, or, even worse, the words of the apostle Paul: “Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. <…> Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them” (Rom. 1:26-27, 32). Does it also mean the discrimination based on sexual orientation?

After this publication, accusations came pouring down on the Churcher telegram channel that it was ostensibly the guide for Australia, while in Ukraine it is distributed only for informational purposes. In response, the channel admins posted a screenshot of the mailing list with the following content:

“Your Eminencies and Excellencies! On behalf of His Beatitude Sviatoslav, I am sending you the document of the Australian Bishops\ Conference ‘Created and Loved’. The Australian Bishops' Conference has produced this Guide on Gender and Identity to support Catholic schools in response to the individual social and pastoral needs of students.

A Guide for Catholic Schools on Identity and Gender describes the pastoral approach shaped by the theological, medical and legal contexts Catholic schools operate in. Perhaps this material will be useful in your ministry."

From this letter it follows that:

  • the guide was sent to all the bishops of the UGCC;
  • mailing is done on behalf of the head of the UGCC Sviatoslav Shevchuk;
  • the guide should be used in “your ministry.”
Screenshot of a letter to the hierarchs of the UGCC. Photo: Churcher telegram channel

Conclusions

  1. Deliberations both in the Patriarchate of Constantinople and the Vatican in terms of recognizing the rights of LGBT people continue and even reach a new level.
  2. In the process of changing the ecclesiastical moral and ethical doctrine, the Vatican has gone much further than the Phanar. Catholic bishops have already developed, in essence, the rite of "church wedding" for sodomites, while Catholic schools produce methodological guides to care for representatives of various genders and orientations.
  3. In Orthodoxy, the discussion of a tolerant attitude towards sodomy is confined to the Patriarchate of Constantinople and does not affect other Local Churches, at least in a public plane.
  4. LGBT sympathizers in the Patriarchate of Constantinople and in the Vatican, as a rule, are also supporters of ecumenism. This suggests that the liberalization of the church doctrine can take place simultaneously and become one of the elements of the ecumenical approximation between the Phanar and the Vatican.

Actually, it can be said that only random representatives of the Phanar express sympathy for the LGBT ideology (and even so in a cautious form), hence it does not threaten Orthodoxy in any way. Wrong, because it does. The Orthodox Church consists of individual laity and clergy who, like all other people, are subject to pressure and propaganda. That is why a thought should be given to creating a document that would articulate the attitude of the Church towards LGBT people and gender.

It could be a Declaration initiated by one of the Local Churches. Other Churches may join by voting for it at the level of Holy Synods or Councils of Bishops. This document should contain answers to the questions posed by the supporters of the liberalization of the church doctrine. What kind of questions these are can be clearly seen on the example of the German Catholic Synodal Way. These are LGBT rights, the legalization of abortion, and the female priesthood. In addition, a separate paragraph of this document should be a statement of the fact that the Orthodox Church cannot accept “modern science, medicine and psychiatry” as a “source” of dogma, but is guided only by Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition.

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