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Interfax Religion/Sedmitza, Moscow, 28 February 2007:

A spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church indicates that several liberal provisions in an Ecumenical Charter are unacceptable.

The Secretary for Inter-Christian Relations of the Department of External Church Relations, Priest Igor Vyzhanov, has pointed out a number of profound contradictions in the provisions of the Ecumenical Charter of European Churches, which cannot be approved of by the Russian Orthodox Church.

‘The Ecumenical Charter embodies the inferiority complex of European Christian Churches, their capitulation in the face of challenges from the secular world’, declared Fr Igor on 28 February at a meeting in Moscow with representatives of the Churches of Europe, the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Baltic.

In particular, according to the priest, the document accepted by European Churches in 2001, ‘on the one hand states that the division of Christians is abnormal, but also asserts that these divisions reflect an objective diversity’.

‘It is dominated by the spirit of political correctness. On the one hand, the Charter proclaims that Christianity is the spiritual foundation of Europe, but, on the other hand, cultural and religious pluralism are at the same time encouraged’, commented the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Apart from that, the Charter contains several contradictory statements, for example, regarding relations with Judaism, ‘suggesting that Christians should repent for the persecution of Jews’.

The priest recalled that the critical view of the Charter taken by the Russian Orthodox Church had already repeatedly been expressed in public and special statements, ‘but, clearly, this had had no effect on European Christians’. He also stressed that the claims of the Russian Church ‘have a character which comes from a profoundly different view of the world and are not merely a matter of picking fault with a certain phraseology’. ‘This is not meant as a criticism of the Conference of European Churches. But I am convinced that a majority of Western Christians really do believe that this Charter is a marvellous document. I think that this is cause for great pessimism’, said Fr Igor.

Earlier, on Tuesday 27 February, Metropolitan Kyrill, the head of the Department of External Church Relations, declared that dialogue between Christians in Europe must not be politically correct, but honest. He also expressed the hope that the Third Ecumenical Assembly, with representatives of all the European Churches, to be held in Sibiu in Romania in September, must become ‘a significant event for the life of Christian Churches’, otherwise it ‘will signify the beginning of a very profound crisis, perhaps even the end’, of dialogue between Christians. ‘Either this will be a great assembly, or else it will be the last assembly. If we say everything again in a politically correct fashion, so it inspires nobody, we are unlikely to find the strength to continue ecumenical dialogue’, commented the representative of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Interfax Religion/Sedmitza, London, 28 February 2007:

At a meeting of the Mayors of the four largest European Capitals, the Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzkkov, declares that propaganda in favour of sodomy is inadmissible.

The topic of the rights of sexual minorities came up on Wednesday 28 February in London at a meeting of the mayors of the four largest European capitals – Berlin, London, Moscow and Paris.

The Mayor of Paris, Bertrand Delanoe, spoke on the fight against discrimination: against the disabled and as a religious principle, also stating that ‘discrimination against sexual minorities is inadmissible’.

In discussions on his talk, the Mayor of Moscow, Yury Luzhkov, said: ‘It would not be in character for me if I did not speak of homosexuality in Moscow’. ‘This is not about discrimination, since in 1993 homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia. Since then several gay clubs have opened in Moscow and they have not been prosecuted, declared Y. Luzhkov.

According to him, this was not a matter of persecution, but ‘about propaganda in favour of homosexuality’. ‘For Moscow, propaganda in favour of homosexuality, just like smoking, for example, is inadmissible, because the overwhelming majority in our society will not accept propaganda in favour of homosexuality and non-traditional sexual orientation’, stressed the Mayor of the Russian Capital.

Following this, the Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit objected, ‘I cannot agree with you. The atmosphere in society varies. We cannot declare that the majority are against, if we ourselves live in that society. For instance, we hold gay parades, in Berlin, Paris and London, this is the inalienable right of our gays and lesbians’.

The Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, also objected in a similar way to Y. Luzhkov.

Discussions on the tolerance of gay parades and those of non-traditional sexual orientation took place in a very lively atmosphere. According to information in the media, the Mayors of Paris and Berlin are openly homosexual.

In an earlier communiqué, Metropolitan Kyrill, the head of the Department of External Church Relations, stated that he was sure that Western politicians would not succeed in forcing the Mayor of Moscow to allow a gay parade in Moscow.

‘Nobody is calling for the condemnation of these unfortunate individuals (the representatives of sexual minorities) and to discriminate against them. But the questions arises: can the Churches insist on defending themselves against propaganda in favour of homosexuality and, after all, gay parades are just such propaganda’.
He pointed out that in certain European cities, where the authorities allow gay parades, it is forbidden to hold Church processions. In such a way, in the view of Metropolitan Kyrill, ‘propaganda in favour of sin is allowed, but propaganda in favour of religious values in multicultural societies has to be limited to personal life only’.

Metropolitan Kyrill considers that the time has come when Christians should make a firm statement on their position on this question. ‘Otherwise it will seem that only Muslims are prepared to defend traditional values, and so, for various reasons, more people will heed their voice than the voice of the Christian Churches’, commented Vladyka Kyrill.

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