Greek hierarchs unanimously condemn gay marriage and adoption

Athens, January 24, 2024

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The hierarchs of the Orthodox Church of Greece met in an extraordinary session yesterday, with the sole item on the agenda being the state’s intention to legalize gay marriage and adoption by gay couples.

The Holy Synod issued a statement late last year, expressing the Church’s theology of marriage and sexuality and condemning the rush towards the legalization of gay marriage. The Sacred Community of Mt. Athos also issued a statement, as have numerous hierarchs individually.

Last week, the primate of the Greek Church, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens called for a referendum on the matter. Government spokesman Pavlos Marinakis responded that while the state respects the Church, there will be no referendum.

At the extraordinary session today, statements and reports were heard from several hierarchs, followed by a lively discussion, during which a new communiqué was drawn up.

In the statement, the hierarchs recount the Biblical and Patristic theology of mankind, as man and woman, the Sacrament of marriage, and the meaning of fatherhood and motherhood. The bishops also write that while it’s the state’s role to legislate, this doesn’t mean the Church doesn’t have the right to speak up.

The proposed law on gay marriage and adoption “abolishes bioethical principles” and poses a serious threat to the children who will be caught in the middle, the bishops state.

Furthermore, the Church rejects civil marriage of any kind, whether straight or gay, the episcopal body continues.

The hierarchs also decided to draft a position letter to the members of the Greek parliament and to have its position read in all churches on Sunday, February 4.

The hierarchs’ full statement reads:

1. The Church’s theology on marriage stems from the Holy Scripture, the teachings of the Church Fathers, and the arrangement of the Mystery of Marriage, clearly reflected in the service of this Mystery.

The purpose of Christian marriage is to create good companionship and family, develop children as fruits of the love of the two spouses in Christ, and their connection to ecclesiastical life.

The Church accepts for the relationship of man-woman and children that:

a) the duality of the genders and their complementarity are not social inventions but are from God (...and God made man in His image, male and female He created them. And God blessed them, saying: Be fruitful and multiply..., Gen. 1:27-28)

b) the sanctity of the union of man and woman refers to the relationship of Christ and the Church (...he who loves his wife loves himself... This mystery is great, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church, Eph. 5:28)

c) Christian marriage is not just a living arrangement but a Holy Mystery, through which God’s grace is provided to the communion of man and woman with the goal of their joint path to deification—and this blessed journey concerns all couples with or without children

d) father and mother are integral elements of a child’s and an adult’s life (Honor thy father and thy mother, Ex. 20, 12).

2. Clearly, the state legislates, but this parameter neither deprives the Church of freedom of speech nor exempts the Church from the duty to inform the faithful nor can dictate what constitutes sin. The Church does not legislate and is not responsible for the laws. If it remains silent, however, it bears a heavy responsibility and negates itself.

3. Since 2015, the cohabitation agreement provides same-sex couples with all the rights and possibilities of marriage, with the main exception of the ability to have children through adoption or surrogacy.

The slogan “equality in marriage” aims at one goal, the acquisition of children by “same-sex couples.”

4. It was announced that “same-sex marriage” and “same-sex parenthood” will be allowed through adoption and (via various means) through surrogacy.

The initiators of the bill and its supporters promote the abolition of paternity and maternity and their conversion into neutral parenthood, the disappearance of the roles of the two genders within the family, and prioritize the sexual choices of homosexual adults over the interests of future children.

Based on the bill, homosexual single parents will be able to impose their partner as “father 2” or “mother 2” on their child.

5. This legislative initiative condemns future children to grow up without a father or mother in an environment of confusion of parental roles.

The single-parent family is a different case. It causes the absence of one parent but not confusion of parental roles.

On the contrary, homosexual cohabitation causes both. Additionally, these children often will not have the opportunity to know their other biological parent.

They will also not experience the presence of the opposite gender (opposite of their “same-sex parents”) within a heterosexual relationship.

Children with fathers 1 and 2 or mothers 1 and 2 (or more) will be the victims of an unnatural mechanism of parenthood.

6. It was made public that: a) “same-sex couples” will be allowed joint adoption and adoption by the “same-sex spouse” of the parent (this will also apply to current children from surrogacy), b) surrogacy for a “same-sex couple” will not be allowed in Greece, but it will be recognized if done legally in another country.

These regulations will be incentives for the exploitation of vulnerable women.

If these aforementioned apply, it is a bill full of contradictions and ways to bypass its prohibitions (through pregnancies abroad) and Greece is likely to be condemned by the European Court of Human Rights for discrimination, thus the country will be forced to legislate surrogacy on its territory.

7. The bill not only abolishes bioethical rules, Christian values, and the Greek family tradition but also overturns the rights of future children and the roles of the genders as elements of social cohesion – and this concerns everyone, even if they do not accept Christian ethics.

The unanswered question is ultimately: What is the real reason for this decision that completely and radically changes the institution of marriage and the status of the parent, and why is it being promoted so persistently?

8. The Church of Greece recognizes only the Holy Mystery of Christian marriage and rejects civil marriage regardless of gender.

In this case, it stands against the civil marriage of “same-sex couples” for the additional reason that it inevitably leads to “same-sex parenthood” through adoption or surrogacy.

This legislation conflicts both with Christian anthropology and the duty of society to ensure the welfare and proper upbringing of children, but also with the rights of children to have paternal and maternal presence and care.

For all these reasons, and with a sense of pastoral responsibility and love, our Holy Church is categorically opposed to the proposed bill.

9. The Holy Synod of the Hierarchy decided: a) to draft a relevant letter with its positions to the honorable members of the Greek Parliament, b) to announce its position in the holy churches on Sunday, February 4, 2024, and to make available a related pamphlet “To the People” through the holy churches and its website, c) to authorize each Metropolitan to proceed, within his diocese and according to his prudent pastoral judgment, with initiatives to inform and sensitize regarding the impending legislation and the institution of the family.

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