CWN - The head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church has forcefully denied that he dissents from the teaching of the Church on homosexuality.

“Some call you the most liberal head of the Ukrainian Church and that your views on homosexuality are very tolerant,” a journalist asked Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, who is 43. “Do you believe [homosexuals] should at minimum have the right to civil unions and at maximum to marriages in the Ukrainian Church?”

The prelate replied:

I will attempt to answer this question expressing my views on this matter, then let the author of this question judge for himself whether I am a liberal or a conservative.

In accordance with the teaching of the Church, homosexual behavior is a grave sin which calls to heaven for vengeance. This is a group of very grave sins for which the Lord God Himself is the One Who repays. To these sins, which call out to God for vengeance, belongs also, for example, willful murder. In terms of gravity, the sin of homosexuality is comparable to that of murder. Therefore, if we are talking today about the right to have a homosexual "relationship," then we must also talk about the right to murder. Therefore, we cannot talk about the right to sin, for that is a view, which is self-contradictory.

Aside from that, Sacred Scripture succinctly and clearly condemns this type of behavior. For example, if the author of this question would read the first chapter of St. Paul's letter to the Romans (he would see that) the Apostle Paul clearly states that people who live in this way dishonor their bodies and that this is a manifestation of their spiritual blindness.

I don't want to judge those persons; I am not against any person. But, I am against sin, just as the Church is against the sin, but is for the person, because the person who is living this type of life, who sins, is wounding and destroying himself. And, therefore, the Church is against the sin yet protects the person and his dignity.

The conversation, which took place more than a year ago, has recently been translated into English.

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Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.