Archbishop Chrysostomos said on Wednesday that his recent statements on homosexuality had been misinterpreted but insisted that homosexuals today had ‘no shame’.
On Tuesday, Accept-LGBTI Cyprus said it would report the church primate to the attorney-general for promoting hatred due to sexual orientation or gender identity, following the archbishop’s comments that he would tell school children that homosexuality was a sin and unnatural and that one ought to struggle to overcome it.
From next year, the church is planning to open church-run schools which will cater for children from kindergarten to secondary level.
“It is not that there will be no homosexuals in these schools,” the archbishop said on Wednesday.
“We want to take children of 2.5 and three years, to start from kindergartens, because we want to put Christ into their souls. We want to send proper people into society,” the archbishop said. “We want to give knowledge to children but also morals. Unfortunately, the hands of teachers in public schools are tied.”
He added that through its schools the church would introduce to society “proper youth, proper personalities”.
By next September, the church hopes to have opened ten kindergartens, followed by two primary schools two years later and two secondary schools six years after that.
He said his earlier statements, made in a TV show on Monday, were misinterpreted.
“I was asked about the homosexuals and I said that this is an aberration based on the gospel of Christ. When God himself says that ‘they shall not inherit the kingdom of God’ what do they want me to say as a representative of the church? Encourage them and say you should all become homosexuals?” the archbishop said.
He added that homosexuals today have no shame. “They make pride parades. Let them be happy about their pride. I do not care for these people. People who do not struggle to become better, what good are they? That is why we want to establish these schools, so that we can bring up people with morals.”
The church, he said, loves everyone including homosexuals.
“We love them, but yes they went overboard. Humans have always been the same. There were always homosexuals but with the then prevailing morals they wouldn’t dare brag about it. Today they are proud. I do not agree with this,” the archbishop said.
The church primate said he respected freedom of speech but that he abided by the Christ’s teachings. “If I derail from the gospel and its aims, then I am no Christian. I want to be a Christian. And if that is not to your liking, so be it,” he said.
The comments drew the ire of Accept-LGBTI Cyprus, which said on Tuesday it was high time the church started loving their neighbour, a reference to the New Testament. Morality and belief, the group had said, have nothing to do with sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics and a person can both be LGBTI and simultaneously follow the path of God and his teachings.
Meanwhile, a group that identify themselves as the Initiative of Teachers Against Racism launched an online petition asking the education ministry to stop celebrating the name day of the archbishop. Each year, on that day, November 13, schools are closed.
The group said that the archbishop has “promoted once more with his unacceptable statements, racism, intolerance, hatred and inequality”.
Schools they said, must be democratic and give a voice to all children without any discriminations. “Such a school cannot close its doors on the name day of the archbishop, and honour a man who systematically and repeatedly violates international, European and national human rights conventions.”
The petition may be found here: https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Ypoyrgeio_Paideias_kai_Politismoy_Katargiste_ti_sholiki_argia_gia_tin_onomastiki_giorti_toy_Arhiepiskopoy/?fOIJmlb&pv=2&utm_source=sharetools&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=petition-392591-Ypoyrgeio_Paideias_kai_Politismoy_Katargiste_ti_sholiki_argia_gia_tin_onomastiki_giorti_toy_Arhiepiskopoy&utm_term=OIJmlb%2Ben