Elpidophoros, the head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, expressed over the weekend his disagreement with the Head of the Orthodox Church in Greece over the baptism of children by same-sex parents.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Athens newspaper Ta Nea, Elpidophoros stressed that in the U.S., the Church “does not consider that there is any obstacle to baptizing a child, wherever they may come from.”
He was responding to views expressed by Archbishop Ieronymos, the leader of the Orthodox Church of Greece, who said that the baptism of the children of same-sex couples would not be automatic.
“We are not against children,” Ieronymos said last week. “We love and care about children more than anyone else. The Church will wait for these children to reach a certain age and when they grow up and wish to be baptized they will be baptized.”
Elpidophoros on baptism of children of same-sex parents
Elpidophoros, who is currently in Greece, said “It is not my position to agree or disagree with the Archbishop of Athens.” However, he responded by telling the Greek daily:
“It is not our place to scrutinize the way a child was conceived or how it came into the world. Our role is to ensure the legality of the baptism. We need to know that those who are responsible for the child consent to the baptism, whether they are the natural parents or have legal custody.”
He added, “The ecclesiastical part is to ensure the child has a godparent who is Orthodox and guarantees that the child will be raised within the Orthodox faith.”
“It is unthinkable that parents should have their Orthodox piety assessed before a decision is reached on whether their child can be baptized or not,” he said. “That is what the godparent is for. As long as these two conditions are met, there can be no ecclesiastical or legal obstacle to the baptism of a child.”
Elpidophoros conceded that the Church is “a little uneasy about what to do,” regarding same-sex marriage.
“LGBT people have always existed. I mean, they didn’t suddenly appear in our modern era like aliens,” he remarked. “It’s just that only recently have they begun to fight to be treated with dignity and respect by the rest of the community.”
“Which means that the Church needs to find a new equilibrium,” Elpidophoros conveyed in speaking with Ta Nea. “It has to find the rhythm and balance it once had by treating everyone equally, regardless of the choices they have made or any particular characteristics they may have.”
Greek Church opposes same-sex marriage
Greece’s government is speeding up its timetable to legalize same-sex marriage despite growing opposition from the powerful Greek Orthodox Church.
Government officials said last week that the draft legislation would be put to a vote by mid-February. Greece would become the first Orthodox-majority country to legalize same-sex marriage if the law passes.
The draft legislation was submitted for public consultation with a deadline of January 31st at 9 PM. It will then be submitted to Parliament, where lawmakers will vote on it on February 12th.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis stressed that he respected the disagreements both within ND’s parliamentary group and the Greek Church but added that the bill “adds a right to some without taking away a right from the many.”
“Previous disagreements have not harmed the relationship between the State and the Church,” he added.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul, which heads Orthodox churches around the world, expressed its opposition to the same-sex marriage proposal.
“Marriage is the union of man and woman under Christ…and the church does not accept the cohabitation of its members in any form other than marriage,” the Ecumenical Patriarchate said.
It echoed a decision by the Holy Synod, the highest governing body of the Church of Greece.