Greek Orthodox icon of the parable of the prodigal son

Only the Gospel Provides True Spiritual Medicine

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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