Morphou, Cyprus, September 10, 2019
The strange case surrounding the now closed criminal investigation into the Cypriot Metropolitan of Morphou was caused by a cocktail of convoluted circumstances which could have only arisen in the 21st century, when traditional Orthodox Christian values are under more attack then they have ever been, both within the Church and in the world.
The conflict began after a video surfaced in which His Eminence, Met. Neophytos of Morphou told the story of a young man who gave up his sinful, homosexual lifestyle after being rebuked by a monk to whom God revealed the man’s sin.
The Metropolitan’s specific words were a spontaneous response to a question posed to him, and while in line with the traditional Orthodox worldview, they were extremely stern, and in the opinion of some, (even who agreed with him) extremely harsh to hear and unpastoral, as he related homosexuality to a “foul [spiritual] sense.” He also mentioned the words of a specific 20th-century saint, that the passion of homosexuality can sometimes be traced to unnatural sexual acts committed by parents while the child was in the womb.
Cyprus, like many European countries, has laws against “hate speech,” and this is how the story went from a hierarch articulating the Orthodox teaching against homosexuality into a criminal investigation. There were accusations that his free speech could “incite violence.”
Members of the LGBT community were infuriated, some secular individuals called for the Metropolitan to be defrocked, and government officials and police launched and investigation to determine if his very strong words violated existing hate speech laws.
Orthochristian previously reported on how the police concluded their investigation finding no criminal offense in the Metropolitan’s statements, and as per protocol, the case was sent to the Attorney General with a recommendation not to prosecute, though ultimately, this was at the discretion of the A.G.
On September 9, however, Romfea reports that the A.G., having reviewed the case, found that there was no violation of hate speech laws, and chose not to prosecute. It now seems that the case is closed, however it only added to the great debate concerning the issue of homosexuality and other non-traditional sexual orientations.
Within the Church, there were hierarchs such as Bishop Christophoros of Karpasia defending the Metropolitan, whereas others openly criticized him.
Most notably, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago completely condemned the words and position of Met. Neophytos against the homosexuals and was very worried that they would be offended by his words, specifically, the idea that homosexuality can be caused by unnatural acts of the parents.
Met. Nathanael of Chicago wrote in his letter that “Homosexuality is simply NOT caused in the way described by the Metropolitan of Morphou,” describing that position as bigoted and “[an] evil presumptuousness in our mindset”.
Throughout his letter, Met. Nathanael very strongly apologized on behalf of Met. Neophytos to anyone offended by his words and was particularly concerned they may scandalize “couples with gay children”.
This is all put forth to demonstrate how very serious and controversial this issue has become in our times. Recently, in connection with a Jesuit university, various Orthodox clergy and scholars met together with those who support, what Orthodox teaching would consider—depraved sexual identities, in a move which sparked great controversy. While the church always maintained that homosexuality is a sin which fatal for the soul, as this case revealed, not everyone maintains the position of the church.
His Eminence, Metropolitan Neophytos, in a letter published today thanked God that this case was concluded, and thanked everyone for their prayers including thousands who contacted him with gratitude for his defense of Orthodox teaching.
Metropolitan Neophytos took no credit and regarded this as simply a continuation of the ministry for the truth of Christ.