“The Apocalypse Cannot Happen on a Local Level, but the Patriarch Knows Better”

July 22, 2013

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) associated legalization of same-sex marriage to the coming apocalypse. According to the Western media, such statements aim to divert people’s attention from the problems Russia faces. Those who spoke to “Kommersant FM” are puzzled by the Patriarch’s position.

A campaign against gays launched in Russia is kind of a red herring. Such is the opinion of The New York Times journalists. According to them, the government and the church turned their attention to sexual minorities to distract Russians from serious domestic problems. This Sunday, Patriarch Kirill declared that the legalization of same-sex marriage puts people on the path of self-destruction and leads them towards the apocalypse. The head of the ROC made this statement during a service in the Red Square Kazan Cathedral.

“This is a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom, we must do everything to ensure that in the vast expanses of the Holy Russia, sin is not endorsed by state law. For it means that people embark on a path of self-destruction,” said the Patriarch.

Leonid Radzikhovsky, a political analyst, does not agree with the Patriarch. According to him, Russians will still have to wait for quite a while for that apocalypse to come.

“He made quite a bizarre statement, that the apocalypse cannot be of local scale, because the humankind is a unified whole. If the apocalypse happens in one single country, it seems strange to me. But Kirill knows better. It’s just that from a factual point of view, mankind is not threatened, so what the Patriarch said is total crap. And those people who are homosexual by nature will stay that way, whether or not their marriages are recognized,” said Radzikhovsky.

Patriarch Kirill is not the only church leader who sharply criticized same-sex marriage. For example, in 2012 the retired Pope Benedict XVI said that such unions pose a threat to the world no less severe than abortion and euthanasia. However, some priests are quite tolerant of gay couples.

In November 2009, the Swedish Lutheran Church was the first to recognize same-sex marriages. It was the first to perform same-sex wedding ceremonies. In the church-issued marriage certificate, instead of “husband’s name” and “wife’s name” entries, it is written “lawful spouses.” However, having taken into account the opinion of the priests who did not support gay marriage, the pastors were granted the option not to perform such ceremonies.

In late 2010, the Church Council of Finland approved a special prayer for gay couples entering into a formal relationship, but stressed that no attributes of a religious ceremony should be involved.

Today, a number of Christian churches, such as the Evangelical Church in Germany, Denmark, and Iceland; and the Lutheran Church of the United States and Canada, do not consider monogamous same-sex unions sinful and allow rites of blessing of same-sex couples.

On Monday, Nikita Mikhalkov, the head of the Russian Cinematographers’ Union also offered his opinion on the subject. In his view, legalization of same-sex marriage will negatively affect the film industry and will result in the destruction of humanity.