Archbishop Ieronymos says homosexuality is a ‘deviation’ as same-sex marriage debate heats up in Greece

Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens

The leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens, has described homosexuality as a "deviation" as the same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting debate heats up in Greece.

During a Wednesday visit to Argolida in southern Greece, Ieronymos said, "The Church has its beliefs… Those who are in the Church and believe have a way of life. Whatever is outside this thing is a diversion from life."

When asked whether all people are children of God, he said, "All are children of God, but we cannot say that everything they do is all good."

Greece’s government announced on Thursday that it will follow through on a pledge to legalise same-sex marriage, defying the country’s powerful Orthodox Church.

Government spokesperson Pavlos Marinakis says the law will be introduced in parliament during the current session, which ends in 2027.

In July, PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced his intention to legalise same-sex marriage during his second term in office, declaring that “same-sex marriage will happen at some point, and it’s part of our strategy.”

He emphasised that “Greek society is much more ready and mature.”

Orthodox Church opposes
The announcement comes after the Church’s ruling Holy Synod delivered a 1,500-word document late Wednesday opposing the measure.

The church clarified that it does not disagree with same-sex civil marriages as it is indifferent to the sex of couples and is something that does not concern Orthodox Christian tradition.

However, their concerns remain around parenting, which they disagree with because “it does not satisfy the rights of children to have both a father and a mother.”

As an extension to that, the church disagrees with same-sex marriage because it can lead to same-sex parenting. Stating that “the extension of marriage to same-sex couples is not legally permissible, excluding them from the right to adoption that currently applies to married couples.”

The Church of Greece also emphasised that children should not be used as a tool of activist pressure. “Children are neither pets for anyone who wants to feel like a guardian, nor “accessories” that will legitimise or make socially acceptable a same-sex cohabitation,” the encyclical wrote.

In response, Marinakis said: “We always listen to the opinions of the Church with respect.”

“But at the same time, we are implementing our policy and will listen to the views of society, civil society, the citizenry, institutions, and parties in total,” he added.

Public opinion on same-sex marriages is divided in Greece

A new opinion poll on Thursday shows that the Greek public is almost split on same-sex marriages.

According to a nationwide survey by Pulse on behalf of Skai, 52 percent expressed a positive view overall, with 20 percent saying they “would like it to be allowed” and 32 percent having no problem, compared to 33 percent who say they would like it not to be allowed.

Regarding the “legal recognition of children of same-sex couples,” the scales tip in favor of those who say that they would not like such a development to be allowed (47 percent), compared with 42 percent who have a positive attitude.

Another 18 percent would like this recognition and 24 percent say they would have no problem with it.

Greece has recognised cohabitation agreements providing same-sex couples with several rights and benefits of marriage since 24 December 2015.

READ MORE: Metropolitan of Messinia on same-sex parenting: “The child will develop in a psychologically unhealthy environment.”

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