2007-09-17 10:01:00

Religious service for sexual minorities conducted in Moscow

Moscow, September 17, Interfax - Members of the so-called Apostolic Reformist Orthodox Church conducted a religious service for members of sexual minorities in Moscow on Saturday.

The ceremony for about ten gays and several lesbians took place in a one-story house on the grounds of a clinic in the southern part of Moscow.

At the start of the service, one of the 'priests' asked, "What TV channels are present here?" When he was given an answer, he said, "What counts most is that there are no federals from the Moscow Patriarchate here."

A table put on the backs of two chairs served as the 'altar' during the service. On the walls of the room where the service was taking place were posters advertising a foundation that provides aid to HIV patients. There were also bookshelves with calendars, postcards, and brochures dealing with AIDS in the room.

A poster on the entrance door to the building said, "Observe safe sex techniques. Use condoms."

"When a traffic crash happens and you see a bleeding person, do you ask him about his sexual orientation?" the 'archbishop' 'Archbishop' Alexy asked those present in the room.

He called on the participants in the 'service' to abandon prejudices and suggested that "homophobia and other problems stem from complexes."

Speaking about sins, the 'archbishop' mentioned "obsession with sex" as one of them, saying that this "destroys man."

The gays and lesbians participating in the 'service' took 'communion'.

Speaking to journalists, 'Archbishop' Alexy said that sexual minorities do not have to confess before the 'communion', as their non-traditional sexual orientation is not a sin. The 'priests' encouraged their 'congregation' before the 'communion' to forgive their ill-wishers and promised that the following 'services' should be regular, although they may be held in different places.

"We could perhaps gather again next week in a calmer atmosphere, without cameras and photoflashes," 'Archbishop' Alexy said.

The Apostolic Reformist Orthodox Church is a branch of the so-called Apostolic Orthodox Church, which was set up in 2000 at an initiative by former Moscow Patriarchate priest and dissident Gleb Yakunin and his associate, journalist Yakov Krotov.

In 2007, Alexy Skrypnikov-Daraki, the 'bishop of Rostov and Taganrog' of the Apostolic Orthodox Church, who is simultaneously considered the hierarch of the so-called Radioactive Sect, announced the establishment of the Apostolic Reformist Orthodox Church, whose congregation includes sexual minorities.