Circular Communiqué from the Chancery of the Synod of Bishops
NEW YORK: July 19, 2017
Having received the recent text of a publicly-posted e-mail exchange, entitled “EMAIL OF THE WEEK: (from a mother, on MY SON IS HOMOSEXUAL),” dated July 2nd, 2017, between the Nun Vassa (Larin) and a correspondent, together with follow-up correspondence, also posted publicly on 8th July 2017, the Holy Synod is compelled to confirm to its flock and to all Orthodox Christians that the counsel contained therein contradicts the Church’s teaching on sexuality, repentance and family life. It does not represent an Orthodox understanding of anthropology or theology, and in the counsel it purports to offer, it presents a grave spiritual danger to those who might follow it, in terms of their own understanding of sexuality, as well as in the rearing of children.
It is not the norm for the Chancery of the Holy Synod to respond to materials posted on the internet. However, in this instance the wide readership of the various resources published by this author, who is an Orthodox monastic, has the potential to lead readers astray. We therefore feel compelled to issue a brief word to the clergy and faithful.
It should be clear to men and women raised in the faith that even an explicit acknowledgement that “actively living out [a homosexual lifestyle] is a sin,” is not sufficient to establish that the author’s text is in keeping with Orthodox teaching in the light of the Gospel. The same text equates homosexuality in numerous places to a “God-given gift, and cross,” or “one’s gift-and-cross of (homo)sexuality”, suggesting, in utter departure from all Christian teaching, that this or any means of behavior which God identifies as sinful may be somehow deliberately bestowed by Him (thereby falling into the social trap of suggesting that “God made me that way”). As such, the e-mail states that such an entrance into sin is “not a ‘choice’”.
Moreover, rather than encourage the parent of a child identifying as homosexual to help him, with the Church’s loving care, to repent and seek healing unto redemption of soul and body and the fullness of life, the letter instead suggests either that the child be encouraged to remain in his sin as a “humble presence in [his] parish,” — here the author falsely equates a subsequent loss of the possibility of approaching the Holy Mysteries with the example of St. Mary of Egypt, whose long struggle without Holy Communion was not due to her steadfastness in sin but to the extreme conviction of her utter repentance — or yet worse, that the parents of such a child should seek out a parish that deliberately and knowingly “is acceptive of your son’s particular gift-and-cross.” Here the advice once more describes homosexuality as a bestowal of God, while at the same time encouraging the departure from ascetic transformation and the seeking out of a community that willfully casts aside the Gospel teaching regarding repentance, knowingly permitting the faithful to languish in their sin rather than seek healing.
In these spiritually confused times, when many are being led astray by social norms that employ the pretensions of compassion in order to deny the order of creation and the teachings of Christ, which are the only true source of authentic co-suffering and genuine spiritual healing, there can be no room for ambiguity or false witness on such critical matters. Only the Gospel, which Christ proclaims in His Church, provides true spiritual medicine; every deviation from its life-creating message only adds to the wounds and illnesses of our already-beleaguered society.
We instruct therefore that our faithful disregard the contents of this publicly-posted correspondence as contrary to the teachings of the Gospel and pastorally harmful; that they be withdrawn and removed from any web sites or publications that seek authentically to represent Orthodox theological and pastoral teaching; and that in future such materials be treated with most extreme reticence and caution.
The official English translation, as posted on the Synod’s own website, has been edited for the sake of readability and to better reflect the original Russian text.
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