The church should not apologise to homosexuals for the way it has treated them in the past as this would encourage them to keep straying from the path of God, Archbishop Chrysostomos said on Tuesday in stark disagreement with an earlier statement by Pope Francis.
In an interview with Alpha TV, the archbishop said despite the fact he has said some “somewhat harsh words” in the past against homosexuals, he cannot go against the word of Jesus.
Adding that he realises his stance on homosexuality may not make him likeable, he said, “When Jesus himself said that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God, what am I supposed to say?”
God, he said, saves no one who does not fight to overcome difficulties.
“We are all sinners. We will not become citizens of the heavenly kingdom unless we overcome difficulties,” he said.
The archbishop said he does not agree with Pope Francis’ statement last year that the church ought to ask the forgiveness of gay people for the way it has treated them.
“I would not agree. Apologise for what? Advise them yes, but apologise to them, what for? To encourage them in what they are doing? I do not believe we would help them, we would rather encourage them to stray from God,” he said.
The archbishop irked many last year over his comments that he would tell school children that homosexuality was a sin and unnatural and that one ought to struggle to overcome it. Accept-LGBTI even lodged an official complaint against Chrysostomos with the attorney-general for promoting hatred based on sexual orientation or gender identity, which was dismissed by the latter last May. The AG found that Chrysostomos’ remarks, while “intense,” were not directed at a particular group based on their ethnic background or religion.
The Church itself is planning to open schools catering for children from kindergarten to secondary level, and the archbishop said that three kindergartens are already up and running, while a fourth is on the way.
The plan is to have ten kindergartens within the next two years, he said, followed by two primary schools in two years’ time and two secondary schools within six years. He did not rule out a church-run university either.
The archbishop reiterated that through its schools the church would introduce “proper youth” to society.
“We want to give proper education. State schools, I believe, they are performing poorly. We want to give not only knowledge, but also ethos, we want to begin with small children because if you don’t begin from the early years of a person, you cannot change them,” the archbishop said.
He added that the teachers of the church-run schools will not teach children poems and stories they teach in other schools. “We will teach them good manners, to respect their parents, not to swear, not to yell, to be well behaved […] you have to begin with the basics to gradually build a proper person with proper education”.
His message to young people, is to “open their hearts to receive God” and that amassing wealth and trying to climb socially should not be their life goal.
As to the upcoming presidential elections, the archbishop said he backs no-one. “I do not intend on publicly supporting anyone. Our people know what to do and need no advice from me”.
He added that he will continue to express his opinion on the Cyprus problem but that he might not vote.
“I didn’t do it the previous time either – a candidate’s victory is not dependent on my vote.”
He would however vote in a referendum, he said. “Even if I could not walk, I would crawl there to vote”.