Via Integra

Fr Mark's progressive Anglo-Catholic take on European Christianity

  • This is my collection of material about the current state of the churches in Europe. I am interested in looking at how they are dealing with the pressing issues of our time: the issues of gay people and women in ministry/ leadership are particularly pressing at the moment, as is the area of declining church attendance.

    I would like to see how Europe's traditional religious institutions are coping with the new Europe currently being forged, in which public opinion and ethical attitudes are becoming inceasingly pan-European, and are evidently presenting a series of strong challenges for the churches.

Greece – the gay issue

Posted by Fr Mark on August 27, 2009

500px-Coat_of_arms_of_Greece_svgThere are Greek Orthodox faithful beginning to argue the case for same-sex marriage … even if they have to go to the Australian Greek media to do so.





We should accept gay marriage



Theo Giantsos

I was recently reading a book review on the writer Coleridge in The Weekend Australian by Dr Karalis which got me thinking about another subject that Dr Karalis has made a splendid contribution to, namely, the production of an outstanding biography on Patrick White’s lifelong partner, Manoly Lascaris.

White died in 1990 while Manoly only left us a few short years’ ago. Lascaris was a great and fascinating man. He was White’s best friend, lover and mentor over the span of an extremely productive and courageous lifetime.

The other key factor about Manoly Lascaris was that not only was he a Greek, or, indeed, a Greeek Australian, but he was a devotee of many of the rituals and customs of the Greek Orthodox Church.

What is undeniable is that the romantic, sexual and creative relationship between 1973 Nobel laureate, Patrick White and Manoly Lascaris was a highly successful and enduring one.

From my own personal perspective, and looking at the broader circle of friends and acquaintances that I have been associated with in the Greek-Australian community, I have witnessed the phenomenon, on a surprisingly large number of occasions, of married Greek men permanently leaving their wives for other men.

I concede that the dissolution of these once “respectable” marriages have caused much anguish for the partners, children and (often), the grandparents involved, but I have noted the continued and on-going strength of the subsequent gay unions.

It is time that the legal sanction of civil same sex marriages in the broader Australian community is legislated.

According an inferior symbolic status to same-sex unions such as, gay ‘unions’ or ‘partners’, even if all financial, superannuation and institutional privileges are provided for gay couples, to be an unacceptable.

The Ancient Greek viewpoint on gay relationships, as expounded by Plato and Socrates ran aground, particularly with the New Testament zeal of St Paul, (a man who never met Rabbi Jesus of Nazareth), who managed to make his way to places such as Salonika and Verroia.

St Paul and the New Testament seem to discount and ignore the magnificent evocation of sexuality in the Old Testament’s Song of Songs.

Christianity, whether Catholic, Evangelical or Eastern Orthodox, has maligned and deliberately smeared the character of same-sex love and sexuality.

One of the two greatest novelists living in Australia is of Greek extraction and is proudly gay. I won’t even mention his name simply because his deserved fame and accolades have arisen entirely from his craft and not his sexuality.

Finally, a word on the Jewish tradition, particularly the strand of Progressive strand of Judaism, that I have a great affinity for, even though it cops a perennial scalding from the Orthodox and Conservative strands of Judaism.

In a groundbreaking book, Whose Torah?, Rabbi Rebecca Alpert openly notes that in the USA, Progressive Judaism openly supports gay marriage, the ordination of gay Rabbis, as well as the marriage of transgender couples.

The tidal wave endorsing gay marriage will topple the last bastions of conservatism and that includes the Greek Orthodox Christian Church, an institution that bizarrely glorifies Ancient Greek heritage (Alexander the Great) while burying its head in the sand over the aforesaid icon’s undoubted bisexuality.

This phenomenon was never made clearer than when the Greek Archbishop of the United States of America described Barack Obama as the greatest leader since Alexander the Great. The aforesaid Archbishop gave Jesus, St Paul and everyone else in the Greek liturgical canon a complete snubbing.

Our forebears embraced straight and gay sexuality. They did not strait-jacket sexuality in the manner that the Greek variant of Christianity does.

In Ancient Greece, Eros and beauty were treasured, as the recently completed Parthenon Museum has clearly demonstrated to us all. By turning our heads away from sexuality, dancing and life, we stare bleakly at Thanatos.

It’s time for action.


5 Responses to “Greece – the gay issue”

  1. john said

    This is all very good, Fr Mark. Perhaps those walls of Jericho are going to come tumbling down. One of the many things I like about your blog is the respect and affection for all Christian denominations. That was also one of the things I most liked about the MCU response to RW and NTW: no nonsense about Methodism or United Reform not being ‘true churches’.

  2. Fr John said

    The Greek Orthodox Church will NEVER accept homosexual unions anywhere in the world. This is because it is a divine institution that Christ founded and marriage will always remain as God intended between a man and a woman. I am a Greek Orthodox priest in the USA…

    • Fr Mark said

      Fr John, give Greece another 10 years, perhaps, and then let’s see whether the very harsh tone of your comment is still the norm. I know it currently is, amongst Greek hierarchs, but I would say, on the evidence of what is starting to happen in Greece (the furore over the recent lesbian wedding there, and consequent moves to bring Greek law more into line with the rest of the EU) that the writing is on the wall for the traditional Greek Orthodox culture of denial about homosexuality. I could have posted up here any number of stories in the press of Greek clergy (even bishops) caught with their trousers down: there is clearly something of a doublethink in the culture of the Orthodox Church there when it comes to sexuality. If that really is changing at last, as this article would appear to indicate, then that is a good thing, in my opinion.

  3. john said

    First time I went to Greece (blue eyes, 13, gorgeous blonde curly hair), I experienced a lot of gay attention from youths, men and Mt Athos priests. Similar things in Turkey. No doubt acceptance is eased by the widespread ‘Greek-style’ intercourse practised by heterosexuals. Difficult then to excoriate ‘unnatural’ practices.

    Last time I was in Ithaki, Greek gay couple posed for photos in the taverna and nobody turned a hair. Of course, many of the Greek islands are full of ex-patriates from Australia and other places. I’m not talking here about ‘gay meccas’ such as Mykonos and Lesvos.

    When talking recently with much-travelled gay friend about the disparity between official attitudes and practice in Islamic countries (yes, dreadful things are happening in Iran and Iraq), he smiled and said (rather amusingly): ‘Yes, they are everywhere’.

    Final observation (for now). I love Orthodox services, especially in Greece, and attend them whenever I can. But, actually, even in the islands, rather few Greeks go to them, except for the ‘biggies’ and the big public festivals, which certainly aren’t only religious occasions. Greece is really a very secular society. I don’t necessarily say that with enthusiasm (though there are indubitable pluses), but it puts into perspective all this ‘top-down’ negotiation with church hierarchies.

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