Yhteys-liike (Community) informing 260307:


Finnish Orthodox bishops, clergy threatened for leniency on homosexuality


A small, ultraconservative lobby is threatening the Finnish Orthodox Church by a malevolent public campaign, if the Church does not ban its clergymen and lay activists from taking part in ecumenical Yhteys (Community) movement promoting and discussing equal treatment for homosexuals in churches.


Archbishop Leo, primate of the Orthodox Church of Finland, has received a letter threatening with wide publicity if the bishops of the church do not demand the removal of Orthodox signatures from a public statement on homosexuality. The statement of the Yhteys (Community) movement, published in 2000, calls for equal treatment for homosexuals in churches. It has been signed by several prominent Finnish Orthodox clergy and lay persons, mostly married couples, with an addition that they wish to further the issue ”within the boundaries of the holy tradition and canons of our Church”. The letter to the Archbishop also refers to the matter being sent for discussion in the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate. The Orthodox Church of Finland is not under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, but enjoys a broad autonomy within the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.


The letter has been signed by three lay theologians who belong to the leadership of a small organisation ”the Brotherhood of St. Cosmas the Aitolos” known for its fundamentalist stance on several issues.


We are not propagating gay marriage or any other change in the teaching of the Church,” says Protopresbyter Timo Lehmuskoski, one of the signatories of the disputed text, ”but we believe that the Orthodox tradition, and its anthropology in particular, carries aspects and practices which encourage us to an attitude of openness, respect and justice towards all persons, including homosexuals”.