Russian patriarch attacks homosexuality, says human rights are undermining morality (10/4/07)
By Jan Sliva, Associated Press Writer
STRASBOURG, France (AP, 10/4/07) — The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, in comments laced with criticism of homosexuality, said Tuesday that too much emphasis is being placed on human rights in the Western world, resulting in “immoral behavior.''
In a speech to the Council of Europe, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II lamented what he called a tendency to ignore how “moral norms'' are transgressed “and declared to be relative.''
“We can see it in a new generation of rights that contradict morality,'' Alexy told the parliamentary assembly of the council, Europe's premier human rights body.
“It may undermine the whole world view of the Europeans.''
The patriarch branded homosexuality an “illness'' and a “distortion of a human being'' and attacked what he called “homosexual propaganda'' that influences young people.
Some members of the council walked out of the chamber in protest. Others, however, applauded.
“No one should be discriminated on the basis of conviction, but no one should try to keep us quiet when we call something a sin,'' the patriarch added.
The patriarch was invited by the Council of Europe as part of its regular debates with political and religious leaders.
He repeated a call for wide-ranging dialogue between cultures and religions, saying no world view, including secularism, should claim a monopoly in Europe or elsewhere.
On many topics, the Vatican sees the Orthodox Church as a partner in its efforts to push its conservative agenda. They share views on some bioethical, social and moral issues as well as opposition to embryonic stem cell research, abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage.