An Open Letter to the Parish Council and Community of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh

Gregory C. Pappas June 4, 2014 124
An Open Letter to the Parish Council and Community of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh

Last weekend I attended Divine Liturgy at Holy Trinity Church where I was born, baptized, raised and spent my entire youth and young adult life. My brother was married there, my father, his brother and my grandparents are buried at Holy Trinity Cemetery. My family has roots in Holy Trinity way back when it was a fledgling community of immigrants on Sandusky Street.

To give you a bit of background, since many of you might be new to Holy Trinity: I was the youngest person ever elected to the parish council when I was 17 years old. I taught Greek dancing and Greek language to dozens of young people when I was still in high school myself. I served the parish faithfully, bussing tables at festivals, participating in every ministry, put my time in as GOYA president and even embarrassingly donned a basketball uniform at the Diocesan basketball tournaments, probably going down in history as “the one who never made a single basket.”

Yet I was welcomed. Because unlike the current environment at Holy Trinity, things were different under the leadership of the late Fr. Michael Sfanos. Holy Trinity was an inclusive place. Whether you were poor from the Mexican War Streets, or rich from Mt. Lebanon… Whether you spoke English with a heavy accent or didn’t speak Greek at all— Holy Trinity was a loving place for everyone and anyone who sought her comfort.

Last Sunday— at a time in my life when I needed the comfort, safety and support of my church the most, I was instead afforded one of the most humiliating experiences of my life when Fr. John Touloumes warned me in a private conversation that should I ever approach the chalice at Holy Trinity, he would not impart Holy Communion to me because of a directive from his Metropolitan.

In the eyes of Fr. John Touloumes, I was not worthy to receive the gift of the body and blood of Jesus Christ— a gift that is not even his to offer, because I am a homosexual.

Fr. John took it upon himself to pass judgment on me, despite the fact that I consult my own spiritual father regularly, and it is my own spiritual father’s decision whether or not I am ready to take communion. I shared my experience a few days ago in a post.

I was grateful for the immediate outreach by the local presiding hierarch in Pittsburgh. I had a lengthy conversation with His Eminence Metropolitan Savas about the matter, who informed me that there was no formal directive ever issued, but that the matter of my participation in the sacrament of Holy Communion had been discussed in a private, pastoral conversation initiated by Fr. John specifically about me.

Indeed, the Metropolitan informed me that Fr. John Touloumes was technically “within his canonical right” to refuse me communion. At the same time, His Eminence Metropolitan Savas also told me that he would defer to the discretion of my own spiritual father and commune me accordingly.

So contrary to what I was told, there was no directive about the issue. Fr. John Touloumes made a specific and targeted request to the Metropolitan about me, personally.

On that note— the zealots amongst you will now copy and paste your “homosexuality is a sin” cookie cutter responses that your bible software sends you every day to your inboxes.

My response to each and every one of you is to challenge yourselves to go deeper than the words of the law and dissect the spirit of the message. Don’t just memorize verses, but try to understand their essence. It may take a bit of work, but do give it a try. Enlightenment comes with hard work and reflection.

I also invite you to consider the two-thousand year old history of the church and how the church has adapted to social and societal change. Paying interest on loans and charging interest used to be a mortal sin, according to the canon laws of the Orthodox Church. Divorce and remarriage were calls for excommunication. Election or the holding of public office, too, were grave sins against the word of God.

But in each of these instances, the Church and individual leaders within the church—priests included, took a look around, and understood the changes happening in society. Today, we are allowed to remarry, use our credit cards and serve in secular public office—NOT because canons were changed, but because character, judgment, compassion and love ultimately prevailed.

People “choose” to commit adultery. People choose to be seen by Jewish doctors and swim in swimming pools with Jews present. They choose to steal. They choose to rape. They choose to masturbate. They choose to take God’s name in vain. Every day, people make conscious decisions to commit sins that go against the teachings of the Church.

But people do not choose to be blond, or to be five foot eleven inches tall, or to have green eyes. They are created this way. And yes, people are created gay. And if you believe, including Fr. John Touloumes who preaches from the pulpit every Sunday, that we are created in the image and likeness of God, then you have no choice but to believe that I, too, a child of God, was created in this same image and likeness, as were millions of others.

And I’m not sure what you believe, but I believe that God doesn’t make things that he hates. There is a huge difference between being something and doing something.

But I am not here to preach to you, or to talk to you about physiological, DNA or other deeper issues that should be left to science and research, or even matters of Church Synods. I am here to explain to you something very human— that each and every one of you can relate to.

A church should be a place of safety, support, compassion and love— especially during times of need, pain and human suffering. And a priest, who has been called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ and a shepherd to his flock, should share these expressions with his faithful and ensure that his church is such a place.

But let’s leave aside these issues of compassion and intangible elements that were absent from Fr. John’s heart last Sunday. These are human conditions, after all, and examples of character and not something we can impose on people. We are either compassionate, or we are not. We either love, or we do not. We are either decent, or we are not.

Instead, let’s talk church canon and rules and the bigger picture of how the church has adapted and evolved over the years, beyond the scope of the last 25 or 50 years of our own lifetimes, and especially beyond the scope of what we are watching on Fox News.

Yes, Fr. John Touloumes was within the canonical order to deny me Holy Communion in his parish. Yes, according to Orthodox Christian canons, homosexuality is a sin.

But so is seeing a Jewish doctor for treatment. And also, anyone who has masturbated or has had an involuntary nocturnal emission, or a woman who is menstruating is also breaking canon law by approaching the chalice. Anyone who has been in a synagogue is also breaking canon law, and anyone who has been at the beach, or in a swimming pool with a Jew is also against Orthodox Christian canon law and subject to excommunication.

Should Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew be excommunicated for entering a synagogue and having relations with Jews? This is against canon law, after all.

Does Fr. John ask those approaching the chalice if they have been seen or cared for by a Jewish doctor? Does he ask if they had a “nocturnal emission”? Does he ask if they have fasted or prepared properly? Does he ask women if they are menstruating? Does he ask his altar boys before communing them if they have masturbated?

No, he does not. And this is why this is a judgment issue, or more so a lack of judgment issue. Because “selective morality” subject to what we personally believe to be right or wrong, is wrong— especially in America in 2014. This is called prejudice and it is deep rooted inside a person. The problem is, if you’re going to apply the canons, as Fr. John is within his right to do, you can’t pick and choose what canons you want to apply, just to discriminate against someone or some group that you personally disagree with.

More importantly, no one has the right to deny me the gift of Holy Communion except my own spiritual father with whom I have regular contact and to whom I confess. These antiquated, Taliban-like practices have no place in American society and no place in the Greek Orthodox Church that rests in American society in the 21st century.

This type of religious zealotry and fundamentalism is dangerous. It destroys people and families, not to mention entire communities.

Priests and Metropolitans are called upon every day to make judgment calls for what they believe to be the best in their flock and their communities. And Fr. John Touloumes made his judgment call to make Holy Trinity an unwelcoming place for anyone whom he doesn’t agree with, or anyone who doesn’t fit the cookie-cutter image of what he believes a good Orthodox Christian should be.

Since this story went public, I have received more than two dozen invitations from Greek Orthodox priests and two bishops, all of whom welcomed me into their churches to serve me the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Are they wrong? Will they be breaking canon law? Is Fr. John better than them for applying his perception of the letter of the law?

But you know what— I don’t want to go there. I shouldn’t have to go elsewhere. Because for me, receiving Holy Communion is an experience I prefer to share with my family, with my mother, waking up in the morning and saying to her while I kiss her hand, “forgive me for I am a sinner”— the way Fr. Michael Sfanos of blessed memory taught me to do. It’s something I deserve to experience where I feel most comfortable and with the people I feel most comfortable with.

But Fr. John’s actions have stripped me of this opportunity. And Fr. John’s actions have also shattered the very foundations of my entire family— members of the Holy Trinity Community who are questioning their very involvement in the parish because of his lack of judgment, compassion and love.

I have to ask, was he thinking of my mother when he warned me not to approach the chalice? Was he thinking of my brother, his wife, or my three nephews?

I also have to ask, why now? And why did Fr. John approve the sacrament of baptism—and sign his name on the certificate– when I became a godfather (for the third time) a few years ago?

What was he thinking when he signed his name on that baptismal certificate, allowing me to be the godfather? And what about my repeated stewardship payments to his parish? Why were the checks of a sinner not worthy of communion who is not in canonical order with the Orthodox Church accepted and cashed?

More importantly, what prompted a call to the Metropolitan by Fr. John Touloumes to ask specifically about me? Was I the only sinner in the entire parish community of Holy Trinity that was keeping Fr. John Touloumes up at night?

Certainly he has known me, my family and “who I am” for the past twenty-one years that he has been pastor at Holy Trinity. My homosexuality was no secret to him.

Why didn’t he call my spiritual father in Chicago, whom he knows personally, to ask if I was worthy to take Holy Communion? He made this about me, after all—so why not fulfill his priestly obligation to me—instead of using canon law as an excuse to back his own Metropolitan into a corner and receive the answer that he, himself wanted to hear, so his own alleged bigoted and personal agenda be fulfilled.

Clearly, I don’t need to answer these questions, as you all know the answers.

Fr. John Touloumes had an opportunity to be a leader, to show love, decency and compassion, and to truly attempt to imitate Christ. Instead, he became a self-righteous authoritarian, selectively imposing what he believed to be the letter of the law, but not applying the same letter of the law to others who might be in violation of church law.

He showed his true character— or lack of it— and his ultimate goal of cleansing the Holy Trinity community of anyone he perceived to be different or unworthy.

Incidentally, I have received almost two-dozen messages from former parishioners at Holy Trinity— former GOYAns that I grew up with and people whose grandparents and parents are buried on the hillside in Allison Park. These people too, were turned away for one reason or another.

I have to ask the esteemed members of the Parish Council— is this the type of community you want to have at Holy Trinity, where we care more for the shiny iconography and the beautifully adorned new edifice in the North Hills than the people who have been turned away?

We constantly hear about the success of the “new converts” to the faith and the new members of the community— but do we hear about the losses? Do we hear about those turned away? Do we hear about those who were warned not to approach the chalice? Or do we brush all of this under the rug and shine the dome of our new church so that it sparkles from the outside.

The best message I received was from someone who served the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and parishes nationwide for many years and one of the most respected Greek Orthodox Christians in this country. I will keep his name anonymous at his request, but his message should resonate with every single one of you.

“I was very grieved to hear about your experience in your home parish and I am not only deeply saddened by this, but very troubled by the apparent rationale, rationalization and just plain prejudice. It’s one thing to have its own standard and values, quite another to be so Pharisaical about it. When was love trumped? When did the responsibility to lead by example become an excuse for sanctimony? And when did those called to imitate Christ decide it was the better to follow Pilate? I am very sorry indeed this happened to you, and even more sorry for the Church. Let’s hope that such ill-conceived edicts are short-lived.”

To the parish council of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church:

Take a long, hard look around. Take a look at yourselves, your children.

You might be surprised to know that some of your own children are homosexuals and might be struggling with the very matter right now. You may also be surprised to know that amongst yourselves, some of you are adulterers, some of you masturbate and even worse, according to the existing canons of the Orthodox Church, some of you might even be in the medical care of a Jewish doctor.

Ask yourselves what kind of a community do you want.

Do you want “witch-hunts” to have a place in a community that is supposed to be compassionate and welcoming? Is this the Holy Trinity you want to serve and build? Is it more important to have a shiny dome with a rusted, rotten core, or a welcoming place for all who seek Holy Trinity’s comfort with as much beauty on the inside, as there is on the outside?

I won’t be back to Holy Trinity as long as he is the pastor of the parish. And unfortunately for Holy Trinity, this isn’t an isolated incident. Since this issue has gone public I have received more than two-dozen messages from former Holy Trinity parishioners who have shared similar experiences with me of their own dealings with Fr. John Touloumes—parishioners whose families built this church.

So the decision is yours to make.

I won’t be back to Holy Trinity because Fr. John Touloumes’ lack of compassion, judgment and love has forced me—and many others— away from the community that my grandparents helped build, my parents dedicated their lives to, my brother and I were nurtured in, and now—the fourth generation of Pappases, my nephews are a part of—Four generations of Pappases at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh.

Because of one man’s personal agenda to create what he perceives to be a pure moral and righteous environment, love was trumped. Compassion and human decency were thrown out the door and a community that boasts a shiny new dome in the North Hills of Pittsburgh is suffering. People have been hurt; families have been torn away from their beloved Holy Trinity.

Only the parish council of the community can act now—if they, themselves, have the courage to do so. And of course, so can the Metropolitan of Pittsburgh.

I guess I will wait and see.

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124 Comments »

  1. Tom Geanopulos June 4, 2014 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    This is a very monumental and historic time in the life of our beloved Holy Trinity. This mindset has prevailed for the past two decades. It’s time for change. As I told His All Holiness many years ago, I want my church back!

    • Spiro June 13, 2014 at 1:16 pm - Reply

      I’m with you Tom. It’s so frustrating that people who don’t know anything about the Faith have turned so many of our parishes into nothing but Greek social clubs in this country and are offended and surprised when they are reminded that the building they’re sitting in is a CHURCH! Just look at so many of the silly responses in this thread. Such people are Greek, but they are not Orthodox.

      Thank God for the converts that are shaking things up and helping us to take our Church back!

  2. Doni Georgiou June 5, 2014 at 5:19 am - Reply

    A powerful article.

  3. Gus Bubaris June 5, 2014 at 12:21 am - Reply

    Homosexuality, like incest, bigamy and pedophilia, is an aberration that should not be visible in our church. The church has a duty to promote monogamy and heterosexuality.

    The supposed harmed Pittsburgh homosexual individual denied access to communion has choices – including finding another religion that tolerates his form of coupling.

    We need standards of behavior so that we can raise successful, god loving, heterosexual children.

    The supposed harmed individual knew, all his life, that homosexuality was not acceptable. It is the epitomy of self-aggrandizement and selfishness that he whine to good Orthodox Christians that he and his lifestyle of debaurchery, multiple sexual partners performing unthinkable sexual acts and sharing sexually transmitted diseases be considered acceptable to the church.

    • Sandra June 7, 2014 at 12:22 am - Reply

      Gus, after reading your post here it is evident that you are a very miserable person who lacks several brain cells. It is obvious by the fact that you can equate being a pedophile to being a homosexual. Who are you to judge somebody’s sexual orientation? The same God who created you created homosexuals. For you to suggest that we need them out of our churches so we can raise successful God loving children is absolute insanity. Do you really believe that a homosexual is not capable of being successful or loving God?? Obviously you are not a medical expert either from your insistence that sexually transmitted diseases can only be spread by those who are homosexual. You are very ignorant. Open your mind and your heart. It is not your place to judge how anybody lives their life. I’m certain that many wouldn’t agree on how you choose to live yours either. God help you.

  4. Maria Kreatsoulas June 5, 2014 at 8:34 am - Reply

    I proudly join you and others in "sinning" when I visit my wonderful Jewish doctor and partake in many other victimless crimes of the church that I'm sure I commit daily. Your bravery in exposing your experience will inevitably bring enlightenment to close-minded individuals if not change.

    • Anastasia Zouvelos June 19, 2014 at 2:12 pm - Reply

      There is no such thing as a victimless sin. We are the victims of our own sin a swell as others. Including homosexuality. And we feed the evil in the world and add to it.

  5. Lizzy Karras June 5, 2014 at 8:53 am - Reply

    This closed minded man that is NOT what a priest should be, WE ARE ALL GOD'S PEOPLE. Who is he to judge??? God Bless you!

    • Anastasia Zouvelos June 19, 2014 at 10:38 pm - Reply

      Exactly how “open minded” should this priest or any other priest be? Is he supposed to say ” do whatever you want, never mind Church Tradition, Holy Scripture, the writings of the Saints etc ?” This priest is being attacked for doing his job. For leading his parishioner down the right path. It is out if love that a priest and the Church does this. What society accepts may change from day to day or year to year but the Church must not bend to the whims of society. What was a sin yesterday is still a sin today no matter how popular it may be now. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

  6. Philip Gaitan June 5, 2014 at 10:53 am - Reply

    This is an excellent article Greg! You Nailed it!

    However sad as it might be it epitomizes the way it is with our faith and our greek orthodox culture!

    We are all baptized into a hip group of Xenos and then have to fight our way up the realms until we finally get accepted. If you are not greek Forget it! GO HOME!

    Many say it is the work of the devil himself, yea I would agree with that one 100 years ago but not in 2014.

    In the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, which almost all Greek Orthodox Churches in the United States follow during the THE PRAYER OF THE PROSKOMIDE it clearly says "Let us love one another that with one mind we may confess" (At this time it is customary for the kiss of peace to be exchanged.) That means everyone in the congregation exchanges a Kiss of Peace, hi five? handshake? turn and say Hey???

    How many parishes practice this that you have seen? And why would you not practice it?

    Because it is the beginning of the end as you clearly state within your article.

    So go out there and flip some more Gyros until you get accepted, but until then I don't want to hear it!

    PFT!

  7. Χρήστος June 5, 2014 at 5:55 am - Reply

    Very well said. Thank you for standing up and fighting this injustice that you experienced.

  8. Lia June 5, 2014 at 8:06 am - Reply

    We must love the sinner and not the sin. If we start denying Mr. Pappas Holy Communion then we must deny people who have had intimate sexual relations with their heterosexual partners (marital and pre-marital) on a Saturday night and then get up on Sunday morning and go to church to receive Holy Communion. There are times to have sex with you partner and not to have sex. Also, he who has not sinned should cast the first stone. There’s not one person in the Eastern Orthodox Church who is without sin.

  9. John June 5, 2014 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Only the most blatant ignorance and insensitivity would equate homosexuality with incest and pedophilia. It’s high time the institutional Church matured and started to see, at long, last, the human face of gay men and women (beyond the caricatures), who should not be punished for the way they were born, and who can be just as caring, monogamous, self-sacrificing, honest, hard-working, generous, and worthwhile persons as their straight brethren. Sexual orientation comes from conception and cannot be prayed or wished away, ever, till death. Even if a gay person abstains for life, s/he will still die as a homosexual, and should not be denied the pleasures and comfort of physical companionship just because s/he is different.

    • Gus Bubaris June 5, 2014 at 9:44 am - Reply

      Homosexuals deserve no sympathy – their multipartner sexual life style spreads disease and costs society health care resources. The current homosexual trend to ignore the health risks – to have anal and oral intercourse without condom use – called “going bareback” – is considered “cool.”

      Quotes from the media – “Some guys are apparently getting intimate connections 10-20 times a night in bathhouses.“

      “The fact that new HIV infections increased somewhat in the 23- to 29-year-old age group indicates that this is a population that we need to be extremely concerned about and that we really need to be trying to reach them early with prevention so that we can establish healthy behaviors early on,” said Dr. Alexa Oster, lead author of the study and medical epidemiologist at the CDC.

    • Gus Bubaris June 5, 2014 at 9:56 am - Reply

      Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor
      male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (NIV, 1st Corinthians 6:9-11)

      • lm June 5, 2014 at 11:02 am - Reply

        Gus, that is truly one of the most ignorant things I have ever read, without an ounce of truth to it. May God grant you peace.

        • Tom June 5, 2014 at 11:31 am - Reply

          Mr. Bubaris,
          It’s a good thing that heterosexuals never engage in sex with multiple partners, never engage in sex outside of marriage, and if they have unprotected sex, it is only within the confines of marriage.

          But I have a tough time reconciling how those ladies that go on the Maury povich show to find out who the father is would not know since heterosexuals never have multiple partners and never have unprotected sex outside of marriage.

          I would assume it’s a homosexual plot were homos are secretly inseminating heterosexual women, then secretly hypnotizing said women that they’ve performed unprotected coitus with men who are not their spouses!!! THE HORROR THE HORROR

      • Mark Backeris June 5, 2014 at 7:15 pm - Reply

        Careful Gus, I dont know you personally and can only gather the smallest glimpse of your soul by your very own words, but you sorta sound like a slanderer to me. If you want a ticket to the kingdom of god you might want to drop some of those stones. Im not worried about you though, you have the opportunity to confess your sins and seek forgiveness through communion.

  10. Natalia Orfanos June 5, 2014 at 8:27 am - Reply

    Dear Greg,
    I just read your open letter and was saddened to find out about the priest’s un-Christian behavior. You’ve dedicated so much of your life and energy for the promotion of Hellenism and the church. You deserve much better as well as everyone’s support. Just know that you have mine. Prejudice and bigotry in the name of God should be a mortal sin.
    All the best,
    Natalia

  11. Gus Bubaris June 5, 2014 at 11:58 am - Reply

    It’s easy – Want to be in good with the church and its teachings? Want to be in good god as determined by the church as what is means to be in good with god? Follow the rules, including the rules on homosexuality, incest and bigamy. What are the rules: no homoexual sex, no sex with your children, just one wife. Where are the rules written? – in the bible, old and new testaments. Don’t know the rules and have no bible? Ask your priest. Not perfect (broke rules – we all have) feel shamed, seek counseling, confess, work to improvement, be humble – it’s not to late. You don’t WHINE and expect acceptance for a deviant homosexual life style. You don’t blame the church for following the rules. You think about how poorly your actions reflect on the religion and how your example sets confusion for children who attend church to develop Chrisitan values. You don’t hold hands and smooch with your homosexual lover while waiting on line to receive communion.

    • KKC June 5, 2014 at 1:24 pm - Reply

      Oh Gus, you just don’t get it. The church had zero problem accepting Mr. Pappas as a donor. The priest had zero problem with allowing him to partcipate in the Sacrament of Holy Baptism. Why the sudden change in position?

  12. Athan Manuel June 5, 2014 at 5:05 pm - Reply

    Kala ta les! Well put Greg – good luck! If our church doesn't stand for love, compassion and acceptance what DOES it stand for? For the record, my retired priest dad also uses the word Taliban to describe Christians who do not understand Christ's message.

  13. Helen June 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm - Reply

    It is with great shame and sadness to read this account of prejudice and malice by a cleric in our church. Greg, your life in the church resembles my own and regardless of my choices/transgressions I would expect my church to welcome me home as in the parable of the prodigal son. Your situation is far different than a transgression. It is not by choice that you are a homosexual but by God’s hand that you are who you are. Our church dogma’s have been “revised” many times in the past. This is another moment in our church’s history that change is necessary. Not only to be “the cool religion” but to acknowledge human differences in us all. It’s congruous to saying that only 5’11 blond men & women should be allowed to receive communion. If Fr. John has the authority bestowed on him by Metropolitan Savas to deny you Holy Communion then it is time to change churches. God’s house is not specific to only Holy Trinity in Pittsburgh. Also, his refusal to deny you communion based on your sexual orientation is in conflict with that of our Patriarch Bartholomew. It is a fact that former congressman Michael Huffington, an openly gay man, was made an Archon of the Greek Orthodox church 7 years ago and formally baptized as a Greek Orthodox Christian in Constantinople by the Patriarch…and yes he did receive communion by his Eminence. Now you tell me where is the hypocrisy? Please tell Fr. John this, so he can ask for your forgiveness.

  14. Romanos June 5, 2014 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    “Let He who is without sin cast the first stone” indeed this rings true. However, with all due respect Mr. Pappas, you fail to understand the seriousness with which the sacrament should be taken and resort to appeals to modernism and a mischaracterization about the purpose of the Church – which is the means through which we reconcile our distance from God and are united to Him through sacraments. I’m not going to give you a Sunday school lesson – and your commitment to be a part of your Church is of course admirable. Unfortunately you’re attempting to appeal to modernism and “the reality of the world in which we live” as justification for the Church to reverse tenets that it has be abundantly clear on from the beginning. I am not in any sort of denial that there are homosexuals in the Church, there are, and the additional understanding I have is that they are in a state of repentance. While I believe you are sincere that your homosexuality is not a choice, homosexuals and heterosexuals alike have a choice with respect to our passions. In the mind of the Church, to declare ones homosexuality openly as not a sin to be overcome but as a defining characteristic of ones lifestyle would be in many ways equivalent to showing up to Church with someone other than ones spouse where the nature of the relationship is clearly one of intimacy and then approaching the chalice. With regard to the circumstances you experienced, the situation might have been handled differently on both sides. If the priest tried to hide behind a fictional declaration to defend his denying your communion, then that certainly shows a lack of honesty. We would all do well to read the Pre-Communion prayers – the sacrament is described as a fire burning the unworthy. Communion is not a food line – and we don’t just decide to show up at Church to receive the Body and Blood of Christ because everyone else is doing it. My friends and I know several Orthodox Christians who are gay yet not actively living a homosexual lifestyle yet won’t approach the chalice. While the Church certainly fulfills a social role, one’s worthiness to receive the sacrament is not proportional to their participation in the administration of the Church. We can all look around and accuse people of sins we know they may commit – but we never know what sins they have overcome. If my priest knew of sins of a major nature I had committed and confessed to, its within his canonical right to prescribe penance and these penances are delivered in private conversation. I can see on the one hand the frustration from your perspective and you feel an injustice has been done,but you’ve also taken a private individual matter and made it public. You would probably say that who are declared Archons sin every day and we polish dome of the church and admire it while sins persist – but again, are we public with and attempting to justify the sins we commit or do we understand the need for repentance? Do we understand that Communion is a gift and not a privilege? I would treat you with love and respect and welcome you into my home. Indeed the Church is a loving place, but let’s not pick and choose only the scripture that gives us warms and fuzzies. Individual situations should be handled with dignity and privacy – and you are no less of a human being than anyone. Regardless of how this issue was handled in your situation, it is unlikely that homosexuality will be a welcomed, legitimized lifestyle sanctioned by the Church.

  15. Angie June 5, 2014 at 5:11 pm - Reply

    I actually found this article particularly entertaining, mostly because I was raised attending a Greek Orthodox Church, baptized by a very blatant homosexual priest. Everyone in the parish knew… If the church, the diocese, the parishioners knew, where is the new concerns? Those priests who were gay in the 80s… They are most likely the bishops if not bigger positions in the church.

    Also what are Canons to the church, no sex on the Eve of namedays, an unbaptized newborn a sinner… A bunch of silly old wives tales used to treat parishioners as religious ignorants. But those who mock sexuality and complain about protection… This makes me laugh even harder. Contraception is against Christianity, condoms, birth control and abortion are extremely frowned upon. But this isn’t the dark ages, women have jobs, we also get to vote. People need to grow with the times.

  16. Cleonike Macris Ziogas June 5, 2014 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    I am in awe of your courage to share such a personal issue in a logical and thoughtful manner. Though I do not hold much hope that the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church will deal with this and other issues you cited, hopefully this will spark the laity to raise their voices for reform of this and the multitude of other issues that hurt our church and its people. In addition, I would like to offer you another theory of what sparked your priest to go to the Bishop: chances are there is a parishioner whose checkbook is more valuable to the priest, and that parishioner has taken issue with your sexual orientation. Sad to say, many priests bow to the almighty dollar. And, your stewardship fees should be refunded!

  17. Dimitri Cot June 6, 2014 at 1:04 am - Reply

    Jesus said, "He who is without Sin, let them throw the first Stone" Need I say more

  18. Giannis June 5, 2014 at 9:45 pm - Reply

    Most people invest major effort to prepare their home when they expect a distinguished guest to visit. Every corner of the house gets dusted, every piece of furniture polished, etc… If everyone were to invest the same amount of diligence in cleaning the Temple of the Holy Spirit (soul and body – Repentance, Confession, Prayer) before hosting the Body and Blood of Christ in their own body, there is no doubt that the Church would be a less fragmented body as well.

    The definition of what is spiritually clean and unclean cannot change throughout the ages, because on Judgement Day, all of the dead will be resurrected, and there cannot be multiple standards available, either for laypeople or for clergy (as Greg correctly suggests above).

    We do need to take a quick step back however, and distinguish between “sin” and “canon” because there appears to be confusion in this thread…a sin is an act that is contrary to the will of God. This cannot change at all throughout the ages, because there is no negotiation with God. If he says “don’t eat the apple”, then there will be consequences if you do. A canon is a regulatory necessity that the Church Fathers instituted in order to establish order in turbulent times, when heresies were tearing apart at Orthodoxy. There is a significant amount of Canons, however, that came about in order for the clergy to have a consistent fallback to dealing with several categories of sins, in their duties to assist people in freeing themselves from those passions. It is quite possible that some of these Canons may require discussion or clarification, but that can only happen in an Ecumenical Council, so that there is common agreement among all of the Orthodox. We do know that it took 2 Ecumenical Councils to end up with the full Creed, for example. We are living in an age where people have invested a lot of money in an educational system that encourages “self promotion”, “individualism”, and “freedom”, which naturally results in ego inflation, and put many of us in a difficult position to repent, because we trust our own thoughts and judgements (Note that many saints wrote about this danger).

    Now that we established the difference between “sin” and “canon”, let’s reiterate the concept that there is no way to negotiate what God considers a sin, and that this definition applies to all, including laity and clergy combined.

    According to Greg’s text the biggest gap that is preventing this debate from having a constructive path is a gap in the very definition of sin. Theologically, it is not possible for God to create a person in a way that they are “designed” to sin, because that concept removes responsibility for the sin. This is an Aristotelian “axiom” for the purposes of a discussion such as this. If we cannot agree that homosexuality is a sin, the discussion stops there, because the gap can never be bridged from that point on. The axiom theory is more profound when a believer argues with an atheist…if both can’t agree on the axiom that “God exists”, the discussion is over already. Greg feels he is “made this way”….If this is true, then the definition of sin is altered, and there is no point to the Resurrection of Christ either…This obviously cannot be true, and we default back to the axiom that homosexuality is in fact a sin. Unfortunately, as a result of a relentless media campaign over the last couple of decades, many people have begun to accept what Greg believes as the truth, falling into a modern heresy with respect to what the Orthodox Church has consistently maintained for so many centuries. No, the answer is not to change the Church every time societal fancies swing one way or the other, but rather for people to realize that we are living in an era of “freedom” which includes the societal legalization of what has been spiritually “illegal” for centuries. We are seeing this live, with the frenzied efforts to accept the unimaginable as “normal”…gay unions, even a pedophile political party in the Netherlands…

    God is looking for struggle and effort against sin….When someone reaches the point of accepting that a sin is not a sin, the struggle and effort end, and the soul gains nothing….When someone becomes “proud” of a sin, and displays it publicly in parades and encourages petitions to “support” the pride, the personal tragedy turns into a gangrenous plague that infiltrates multiple souls…It is gangrenous, because it destroys the concept of Repentance…Without true Repentance, you can’t expect true Forgiveness of sins…..we are at the cusp of no return, based on what we see in the news every day, and on this very blog.

    This is one of the most dangerous spiritual eras in the history of the Church, and we are at the brink of a major schism and/or defection because of the fact that the clergy have lost the ability to convince, and because the lay people have beefed up their egos to the point that every “forbidden apple” is justified in the “age of personal freedom”, and the notion of God is a false one of “He will accept me as I am, with no Repentance”….The clergy have lost the ability to convince because some of them have in fact sampled the same decadence (“freedoms”) for themselves in a public and scandalous manner (“hit the shepherd, and the sheep shall scatter”). Even worse, when there are scandals, it doesn’t appear that the gavel is dropped with the approprate force, resulting in more scandal…

    However, some in the clergy are still trying to remain consistent with tradition, but they are having a hard time. St. Kosmas Aitolos prophesized many years ago that “the clergy will become the worst and most disrespectful of all”…but he also added…”In those days I recommend you exercise unity and love (amongst yourselves)”…

    Conclusions:
    1) Don’t deceive yourselves that homosexuality is not a sin.
    2) Yes, it is correct to insist that avoidance of sins apply to all, equally.
    3) Canons that provide guidelines on when someone should refrain from Communion were primarily designed to assist with the process of Repentance. If we accept a sin as being a sin, if we feel remorse for what we did, we will probably not have a problem if a Canon is imposed….if we don’t accept a particular sin as being a sin, if we don’t repent, we have distanced ourselves from God anyway, so the “technical” nature of a Canon separating us from God (Communion) is really just a tangible formality to what we have already brought upon ourselves….
    4) Ego is the real problem here….”no, you can’t have the apple” vs. “why not?”

    • yannaro June 6, 2014 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Homosexuality per se is not a sin. Engaging in homosexual sex is. It is no different than participating in heterosexual sex out of marriage. What is perhaps the least understood aspect of the canons is that they are guidelines. Also, a priest may deal with a situation with either economy or exactness in many instances. However, when it comes to receiving the Eucharist sex out of wedlock is a no-no, regardless of one’s sexual orientation.

      • Giannis June 6, 2014 at 8:56 pm - Reply

        Yannaros,

        Christ pointed out that if you commit adultery in your heart, you are already considered an adulterer…it’s the same situation here, but your statements appear to be contrary…certainly there is a big step between contemplating a desire and actually acting upon it, but contemplating a sinful desire is still something that has to be fought and avoided. Immediate rejection of such thoughts and desires is what the Church Fathers recommend, but the battle is tough.

        It’s not easy, guys…nobody said it would be…however, that’s the challenge everyone has to deal with…everyone has some sort of demon to battle with. These demons are master hackers of souls, and are skilled at finding the “spiritual ports” that are vulnerable in each person, and they eat away at those weaknesses for a lifetime…we have to spend a lifetime in an effort to defend against the attacks, and patch our individual weaknesses, to minimize the damage that desires cause us. (by the way, sins of “ego” also have desire as a root cause – the desire of your own self over others…when you view yourself as better than your neighbor, you can imagine what follows…)

        • yannaro June 7, 2014 at 11:21 am - Reply

          Let me be very clear…..there is no difference between sex out of marriage whether it be homosexual or heterosexual. The reference to adultery because of temptations also refers to both homosexuals and heterosexuals. Being homosexual or homosexual and lusting in your heart are the same thing. Being homosexual is not a sin just as being heterosexual is not a sin. It is what we do with our sexuality that determines sin.

  19. F June 5, 2014 at 11:50 pm - Reply

    The author’s argument, as all arguments for the pro-gay movement, is predicated on the assumption of people being “born gay” and therefore are owed inherent human rights (and in this article, acceptance from the Orthodox Church). However, this ideology of homosexuality is not something that is certain. Arrays of psychological studies in the past three decades have concluded on everything from the genetic predisposition to homosexuality, to homosexuality begin a gained behavior, to the even the fluidity of sexuality! There is no certainty in this field, so it is an injustice to treat the “born this way” argument as a concrete one.

    Regardless, even if the pro-gay advocates are right in professing that homosexuality is a concrete trait that people are born with a disposition to, this doesn’t necessitate acceptance by the church or society at large. Being “born” any way or another doesn’t justify an act. People are born with a disposition to kleptomania aren’t excused of their sin of stealing. People born with a disposition to alcoholism aren’t absolved of their sins because of their genetic predisposition. Every individual on this earth is given different types and levels of hardship to overcome, from a genetic-behavioral perspective. Society hasn’t set the bar lower for these people who are predisposed to perform actions that are outside of what is acceptable. Instead, members of society are expected to love these individuals and help them help themselves to live their lives within society’s traditional norms. The same should be done for the homosexual, even if he is truly “born” gay.

    The pro-gay movement is certainly outside of humanity’s historical norms. Never has any civilization on earth promoted matrimony between two people of the same sex. And despite what some would like to think, homosexual acts were never openly socially accepted on a large-scale in any civilization; even in the times before Christ, homosexuality was condemned by many in ancient Greek and Roman societies (despite its prevalence in few pockets of those societies). Homosexual behavior is and has historically been outside of the norm of what is healthy human behavior, from a sociological and societal perspective. Despite what some may profess, there is no substitute for healthy relationship of one man and one woman for raising a family and being a part of a society. This is why the Church ought to continue to hold its historical stance on homosexuality.

    It was truly disappointing for me to read this article. This is a prime example of the way that people who believe in the pro-gay movement bully others into accepting their beliefs. What happened to the rational debate that our ancient forefathers so very valued? It seems that one can either be in the pro-gay camp or be labeled a bigot.

    More so, what honor is there in writing a letter to lambaste a priest– a man who took up God’s call more deeply than any of us laypeople– and call for his congregation, his flock, to reject him? And more so, why publicly name him and his parish? Wouldn’t an article describing the situation be enough to make his point without naming the priest? Does the author also intend to get his revenge on this man of God by unleashing him to the wolves of the internet? The author should be ashamed for bringing a private situation like this to the limelight.

  20. Tom Economy June 6, 2014 at 5:22 am - Reply

    Well said. God Bless you!

  21. Anonymous June 6, 2014 at 8:17 am - Reply

    Dear Brother in JESUS CHRIST Gregory. You say " And yes, people are created gay." GOD Our Perfect GOD would Never Create His Creation you or me to be Gay. You my Brother, have chosen this SATANIC and Totally Demonic lifestyle. GOD has given all human beings FREE WILL to chose EVIL or GOOD on this temporary Earth that we live in. You my Brother have chosen EVIL rather than GOOD. Our AWESOME GOD did not make us Robots with a computer chip inside so He can program us what to do. TOTAL FREE WILL was given to us ALL to make, chose to follow GOD that Created You and Me in His Perfect Image. Or we Chose to Follow SATAN who rebelled against GOD, telling us Creatures Not to do God's WILL. SATAN tells us to "DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO" "BE WHAT YOU WANT TO BE" have Fun, Live in DEMONIC PRIDEFUL SIN. Never Confess your SINS. I Had a Very GOOD Friend that told me that he was gay. I Explained to him that you are more than likely POSSESSED by DEMONS. I took him to a Very HOLY ORTHODOX Monastery and the Holy Monks Performed EXORCISM ( READ SPECIAL PRAYERS by SAINT BASIL the GREAT) to Expel the DEMONS Out of him. My friend was there for over a month to get the DEMONS Out of him. ( These Prayers Can Only be Read by Orthodox Priests that are at a VERY High Spiritual Level) If Not the Priest Reading the Prayers, the Demons could come out of the possessed person and enter the Priest or Person trying to Read these EXORCISM PRAYERS.
    THOXA to THEO my friend now is Not gay anymore. Many Demons that were inside of him are out of him and he is Very Good Now. I myself was there only one time when the HOLY Priest Monk was reading these EXORCISM Prayers, and it was the most Scariest thing that I ever have seen in my life. The DEMONS that were inside my friend started going CRAZY. Screaming at the HOLY Orthodox Priest Monk , STOP IT YOU ARE BURNING US WITH YOUR PRAYERS. The DEMONS were SWEARING BAD WORDS at the Priest, but he just continued reading the HOLY Prayers. These VOICES that were SCREAMING, they were NOT HUMAN but DEMONIC and VERY EVIL. Also my Brother Gregory when you take HOLY DIVINE COMMUNION, YOU ARE TAKING THE ACTUALLY BODY AND BLOOD OF OUR MOST HOLY AND PURE LORD ANS SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. SAINT PAUL says in the HOLY BIBLE that HOLY DIVINE COMMUNION that is taken by the UNWORTHY BECOMES A RAGING FIRE that BURNS THE UNWORTHY, whoever PARTAKES OF IT. A VERY HOLY PRIEST MONK TOLD ME THAT WHOEVER takes HOLY DIVINE COMMUNION and they are Committing DEADLY SINS LIKE ADULTERY, FORNICATION, MASTURBATION, and HOMOSEXUALITY and many other DEADLY SINS and they don't REPENT and CONFESS their SINS and STOP doing those SINS that they will get Very Sick, Develop ( CANCER) and many others Diseases. GAY ( HOMOSEXUALITY) that is an ABOMINATION before GOD. One of the Worst SINS that you can commit. GOD Himself came and Destroyed the 2 City's SODOM and GOMORRAH because they were Committing HOMOSEXUAL ACTS that are a ABOMINATION and DESTRUCTION. Until this Day the DEAD SEA that is next to these 2 Destroyed City's SODOM and GOMORRAH has NO LIVING LIFE in the water. BIG sign from GOD above that HE does NOT ACCEPT this EVIL DEMONIC SIN of HOMOSEXUALITY. Gregory my Brother you are being EXTREMELY DECEIVED by the EVIL One SATAN to say what you stated above " AND YES, PEOPLE ARE CREATED GAY " for GOD OUR AWESOME MOST HOLY AND SINLESS ONE, PERFECT CREATOR, WOULD NEVER CREATE A GAY (HOMOSEXTUAL) HUMAN BEING. THAT IS COMPLETE EVIL BLASPHEME AGAINST GOD HIMSELF, HE has made every HUMAN BEING IN HIS IMAGE, PERFECT, HOLY, PURE so that we become sons and daughters of HIS and Gain the ETERNAL HEAVENLY KINGDOM. Gregory YOU HAVE FREE WILLINGLY CHOSEN THIS EVIL and DEMONIC SIN. THAT NOT Even the Animals that Our PERFECT AWESOME GOD has Created, PERFORM SEXUAL ACTS, MALE with MALE or FEMALE with FEMALE. DO THE ANIMALS HAVE MORE FEAR and RESPECT OF GOD'S NATURAL LAW, THAT THEY CHOSE NOT TO DO, THESE DEMONIC ACTS? I PRAY and HOPE you Confess your DEMONIC SIN OF HOMOSEXUALITY. GO AND GET EXORCISM Prayers Read so that those EVIL DEMONS that are TORMENTING YOU COME OUT OF YOU MY BROTHER. May Our HOLY PANAGIA Help you take Out the DEMONS Inside of you Gregory. I the SINNER will Pray that PANAGIA Helps you. IF YOUR SPIRITUAL FATHER THAT YOU GO TO SAYS THAT BEING GAY IS OKAY, THEN MAYBE HE MIGHT BE GAY HIMSELF, the BLIND MAN LEADING LEADING A BLIND MAN to DESTRUCTION. I RECOMMEND YOU GET ANOTHER SPIRITUAL FATHER THAT TELLS YOU THE TRUTH, WHICH IS JESUS CHRIST. " I AM THE TRUTH THE WAY AND THE LIFE " THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS AN EXTREME ABOMINATION and DESTRUCTION of the SOUL and BODY. ETERNAL DAMNATION to the OUTER DARKNESS and WORST PLACE in HELL. CALLED OBLIVION. REPENT & CONFESS your GIANT and ONE Of the WORST SINS, HOMOSEXUALITY, My Brother Gregory, Amen.

  22. gap June 6, 2014 at 6:53 am - Reply

    I don’t normally write in the comment sections because it goes no where with people, they all have their own opinion and that will not change by someone’s post or comment. Just some background, I have grown up and am still a member of Holy Trinity, and like Greg have served my community to the bone, but unlike Greg, I still live in Pittsburgh and go to Holy Trinity regularly. So here goes.

    To be honest, I don’t care that Father John would deny Greg his opportunity for Holy Communion, it is Father John’s right to deny him that opportunity. If Greg doesn’t like it go to the other several Orthodox churches that have responded to him about giving him communion.

    Here is where I get angry that it seems no one is bringing up, because it is getting covered up from the gay side of things. This is a Priest that to Greg’s face, told a lie! I am not saying that they are perfect human being, because no one is. But to lie to someone that he will not serve him Communion because his “Boss” told him he couldn’t is both cowardice and wrong. If you are going to deny someone that for all accounts is his right to have, then Fr John should say to Greg, that it is his right to not serve him. Period!

    Another Point, this is not the first time Father John has done something without thinking about the consequences of his actions. I remember years ago when the church was still on the North Side, he had printed out multiple colored Bulletins for that Sunday. And during certain times of the Liturgy, he would have his Alter Boys go out and switch to another color of the bulletin. At the end of church, when he was going to dismiss the congregation, he had people hold up the different colored bulletins and basically called out all the people that were not their for the start of Divine Liturgy, and then proceed to let certain colors go to Coffee Hour while other colors were to stay, just another explain of not thinking before acting.

    Also, their was no reason to tell Greg that he was not going to serve him communion. Greg was not in line for communion, so their was no reason to bring it up. Greg was probably going to go back to Chicago and not come back to Holy Trinity for another 6 months or even longer. So not sure why Father John felt it was necessary to bring it up at that moment, yet again not thinking about the consequences before acting.

    Last point and I am done, I agree that the times are changing, and that rules inside the Orthodox faith should come along with the times. I don’t care if you are Gay, Straight, Cuban, Asian, Black, Green, or Yellow, if you are an Orthodox Christian and you have prepared for it, then you should have the opportunity to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ.

  23. D June 6, 2014 at 7:42 am - Reply

    You know, if people stopped misinterpreting books written in more primitive times and actually use some logic OR stopped listening blindly to “spiritual leaders” who have their own personal agendas – maybe there wouldn’t be so many problems in the world. The 3 stooges: Christians, Muslims and Jews continually enhance the world’s conflicts by not opening their eyes to the changing world around. Sad.

  24. Penny Laing June 6, 2014 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Please reed it !!!!!!

  25. Maria June 6, 2014 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Dear Brother in JESUS CHRIST Gregory. You say ” And yes, people are created gay.” GOD Our Perfect GOD would Never Create His Creation you or me to be Gay. You my Brother, have chosen this SATANIC and Totally Demonic lifestyle. GOD has given all human beings FREE WILL to chose EVIL or GOOD on this temporary Earth that we live in. You my Brother have chosen EVIL rather than GOOD. Our AWESOME GOD did not make us Robots with a computer chip inside so He can program us what to do. TOTAL FREE WILL was given to us ALL to make, chose to follow GOD that Created You and Me in His Perfect Image. Or we Chose to Follow SATAN who rebelled against GOD, telling us Creatures Not to do God’s WILL. SATAN tells us to “DO WHAT YOU WANT TO DO” “BE WHAT YOU WANT TO BE” have Fun, Live in DEMONIC PRIDEFUL SIN. Never Confess your SINS. I Had a Very GOOD Friend that told me that he was gay. I Explained to him that you are more than likely POSSESSED by DEMONS. I took him to a Very HOLY ORTHODOX Monastery and the Holy Monks Performed EXORCISM ( READ SPECIAL PRAYERS by SAINT BASIL the GREAT) to Expel the DEMONS Out of him. My friend was there for over a month to get the DEMONS Out of him. ( These Prayers Can Only be Read by Orthodox Priests that are at a VERY High Spiritual Level) If Not the Priest Reading the Prayers, the Demons could come out of the possessed person and enter the Priest or Person trying to Read these EXORCISM PRAYERS.
    THOXA to THEO my friend now is Not gay anymore. Many Demons that were inside of him are out of him and he is Very Good Now. I myself was there only one time when the HOLY Priest Monk was reading these EXORCISM Prayers, and it was the most Scariest thing that I ever have seen in my life. The DEMONS that were inside my friend started going CRAZY. Screaming at the HOLY Orthodox Priest Monk , STOP IT YOU ARE BURNING US WITH YOUR PRAYERS. The DEMONS were SWEARING BAD WORDS at the Priest, but he just continued reading the HOLY Prayers. These VOICES that were SCREAMING, they were NOT HUMAN but DEMONIC and VERY EVIL. Also my Brother Gregory when you take HOLY DIVINE COMMUNION, YOU ARE TAKING THE BODY AND BLOOD OF OUR MOST HOLY AND PURE LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. SAINT PAUL says in the HOLY BIBLE that HOLY DIVINE COMMUNION that is taken by the UNWORTHY BECOMES A RAGING FIRE that BURNS THE UNWORTHY, whoever PARTAKES OF IT. Also a VERY HOLY PRIEST MONK TOLD ME THAT WHOEVER takes HOLY DIVINE COMMUNION and they are Committing DEADLY SINS LIKE ADULTERY, FORNICATION, MASTURBATION, and HOMOSEXUALITY and many other DEADLY SINS and they don’t REPENT and CONFESS their SINS and STOP doing those SINS that they will get Very Sick, Develop ( CANCER) and many others Diseases. GAY ( HOMOSEXUALITY) that is an ABOMINATION before GOD. One of the Worst SINS that you can commit. GOD Himself came and Destroyed the 2 City’s SODOM and GOMORRAH because they were Committing HOMOSEXUAL ACTS that are a ABOMINATION and DESTRUCTION. Until this Day the DEAD SEA that is next to these 2 Destroyed City’s SODOM and GOMORRAH has NO LIVING LIFE in the water. BIG sign from GOD above that HE does NOT ACCEPT this EVIL DEMONIC SIN of HOMOSEXUALITY. Gregory my Brother you are being EXTREMELY DECEIVED by the EVIL One SATAN to say what you stated above ” AND YES, PEOPLE ARE CREATED GAY ” for GOD OUR AWESOME MOST HOLY AND SINLESS ONE, PERFECT CREATOR, WOULD NEVER CREATE A GAY (HOMOSEXUAL) HUMAN BEING. THAT IS COMPLETE EVIL BLASPHEME AGAINST GOD HIMSELF, HE has made every HUMAN BEING IN HIS IMAGE, PERFECT, HOLY, PURE so that we become sons and daughters of HIS and Gain the ETERNAL HEAVENLY KINGDOM. Gregory YOU HAVE FREE WILLINGLY CHOSEN THIS EVIL and DEMONIC SIN. THAT NOT Even the Animals that Our PERFECT AWESOME GOD has Created, PERFORM SEXUAL ACTS, MALE with MALE or FEMALE with FEMALE. DO THE ANIMALS HAVE MORE FEAR and RESPECT OF GOD’S NATURAL LAW, THAT THEY CHOSE NOT TO DO, THESE DEMONIC ACTS? I PRAY and HOPE you Confess your DEMONIC SIN OF HOMOSEXUALITY. GO AND GET EXORCISM Prayers Read so that those EVIL DEMONS that are TORMENTING YOU COME OUT OF YOU MY BROTHER. May Our HOLY PANAGIA Help you take Out the DEMONS Inside of you Gregory. I the SINNER will Pray that PANAGIA Helps you. IF YOUR SPIRITUAL FATHER THAT YOU GO TO SAYS THAT BEING GAY IS OKAY, THEN MAYBE HE MIGHT BE GAY HIMSELF, the BLIND MAN LEADING LEADING A BLIND MAN to DESTRUCTION. I RECOMMEND YOU GET ANOTHER SPIRITUAL FATHER THAT TELLS YOU THE TRUTH, WHICH IS JESUS CHRIST. ” I AM THE TRUTH THE WAY AND THE LIFE ” THAT HOMOSEXUALITY IS AN EXTREME ABOMINATION and DESTRUCTION of the SOUL and BODY. ETERNAL DAMNATION to the OUTER DARKNESS and WORST PLACE in HELL. CALLED OBLIVION. REPENT & CONFESS your GIANT and ONE Of the WORST SINS, HOMOSEXUALITY, My Brother Gregory, Amen.

    • Meschelle June 6, 2014 at 3:29 pm - Reply

      Hey Maria, I think you’d be a fantastic candidate for seminary, because you’ve got that “preachy” thing down perfectly .. Too bad God made you with a
      Vagina since you happen to be such an expert on cannon law.. Perhaps he made a mistake.. Just like he must have when he created gays? Because yes, God created everyone and being gay is not a choice, I know many Greek Orthodox who are homosexuals and no one would choose a life where they are treated or spoken about the way you have just spoken to Mr. Pappas… Get off your high horse and ask The Lord for compassion and love in your heart. Are you Judging Maria? I have news for you, judging is a sin.. Oh, and by the way, your friend is still gay, he’s just come to realize that he cannot trust you so you he let’s you believe what you want: open your eyes and your heart Maria, close minded people like you give Greek Orthodox people a bad name.

  26. Christina mcgrath June 6, 2014 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Wow . I guess I will say this …AND TO ALL THAT AGREE WITH GUY . I DO NOT .AT ALL.. NOT GOING TO BE COOL .NOT P.C. I feel bad for this man . The USA has made it clear that they accept homoesexuals …. couples all over our country they now can be married and go on with their lives. Ok I have no problem with them . ……DO NOT SAY THE WORD HOMOPHOBIA IS PART OF THIS …..IT IS NOT . ……I DO NOT HATE GAYS . But when you start saying the church has to go there way . And calling the Greek Orthodox Church Not accepting I have an issue ……any person NOT IN good standing . Are not to take communion. That is a fact .
    The church does not have to change .
    There is lot of people who are not in good standing AND THEY RESPECT THE CHURCH OF CHRIST….AND KNOW WHAT IF YOU ARE ORTHODOX CHRISTIAN YOU KNOW WHAT OUR CHURCH TEACHES…… I think this letter is a very self serving , EVERY TIME SOCIETY THINKS SOMETHING’S IS OK ,SHOULD THE CHURCH CHANGE THE DOCTRINES.((((((( I SAY NO.))))))) I PERSONALLY FEEL YOU ARE NOT FOLLOWING THE BIBLE ….OF OUR CHRIST. IF YOU WANT TO DO SOMETHING ELSE,such as CHANGE YOUR BELIEFS DO IT, BE BLESSED. BUT DON’T you DARE THINK THAT YOU WILL CHANGE OUR CHURCH. To suit your sexual preference . I personally disagree with this dude. Be blessed and happy SIR……This church is 2000 years old. It is not facebook Twitter . Leave it alone .

  27. Costas Mamas June 6, 2014 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    It was within the priests canonical right to deny you the body and blood of Jesus Christ. That's good that you're taking a stand, but if it really bothers you that much then switch parishes. I personally agree with the priest but there are plenty of others who I'm sure would be more accepting.

  28. John June 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Mr Pappas is correct about a lot of things, but he’s also off the mark about one or two.

    The hierarchs are hypocrites; the clergy are hypocrites; we are all hypocrites. The gay issue is a matter of Inconsistency. Had the bishops and priests (and laypeople) been consistent about the teachings of the Gospel, as safeguarded by the canons, we would not be in this mess. But they haven’t, and we are.

    But the answer is not to start communing gays: it’s to stop communing nearly everyone else until they repent.

    • john June 6, 2014 at 2:42 pm - Reply

      Bravo!

  29. john June 6, 2014 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    “I KNOW I was born with a profound desire to have sex with more than one woman. I am a poly-sexualist, no doubt. I live this oft debilitating reality every day. In fact, I’m thinking about taking this hot red head I work with to the Bahamas for the weekend. My wife doesn’t need to know, after all my natural inclinations aren’t really her business. Plus, who is anyone to judge me and my polysexuality! They don’t know who I am and what I feel. And also, I think I’ll grab some communion at liturgy before catching my flight… I just hope Father doesn’t hold my confession against me and judge me, after all, everyone knows he is a sinner. Heck, I saw him drunk just the other night.”

    Now, I’m not altogether happy with the way this priest singled out the upset blogger in this case, that was probably unnecessary. But does the fictional author above sound like the kind of “Christian” you’d like your kids to become? Forget the sex (poly and homo); just look at the pride and envy and egotism dripping off off these posts. That Greg’s blog/rant even exists tells this reader all he needs to know about the situation. This conversation is indeed a sign of the great divide between the modern notion of self and the Orthodox/ancient notion of self. THAT is what is truly in play here, and that is why I bothered to post. It is yet another example of the vitalism which envelopes the last vestiges of a decrepit protestant style “christian” America. Perhaps the death of this type of Christianity is a good thing in the end, and perhaps this blog and the writings of this man are just the means that God is using to finally vanquish the heresy of humanism, a humanism born out of two very misguided “christianities” (reformed and Roman). May we all learn something from this… and may that lead us to the patient love of Christ which asks us to forgive and love even misguided and impolite priests. After all which is worse, an impolite priest with puritan proclivities or a puritan blogger with anarchist and nihilist tendencies? Hmmmm….

    • Yannaro June 6, 2014 at 6:26 pm - Reply

      John, thank you for your insightful discussion of the self. But, please allow me to comment on two other comments you made. How do we know this man was singled out? Perhaps the priest is consistent in not allowing those who have sex out of wedlock to not partake of the Eucharist. We have on only heard one side of the story and you can be assured the priest will not discuss this publicly, at least as far as a particular person is concerned. He might speak on the topic but not a particular situation. And we need to be careful with the labels we toss around describing priests just because we might disagree with them. This is not to say that a priest won’t handle a delicate situation in the best possible manner, but it happens.

      • admin June 6, 2014 at 6:30 pm - Reply

        Yannaro– re-read the story. The priest singled me out by calling the Metropolitan to discuss my situation and mine only. The Metropolitan confirmed this. “I was grateful for the immediate outreach by the local presiding hierarch in Pittsburgh. I had a lengthy conversation with His Eminence Metropolitan Savas about the matter, who informed me that there was no formal directive ever issued, but that the matter of my participation in the sacrament of Holy Communion had been discussed in a private, pastoral conversation initiated by Fr. John specifically about me.”

        • Yannaro June 6, 2014 at 6:34 pm - Reply

          Neither the priest nor the metropolitan would tell you or anyone else whom they might have discussed.

          • admin June 6, 2014 at 6:47 pm -

            you’re wrong. but believe what you wish.

          • Yannaro June 6, 2014 at 7:13 pm -

            How do you know this? That’s a very, very serious charge. The only reason we know of this situation is because you made it public. Are you personally aware that this priest and metropolitan tell others about pastoral conversations concerning parishioners?

          • admin June 6, 2014 at 7:18 pm -

            As I said in my post. The Metropolitan confirmed this. Kindly read the story before you start lobbing accusations at me. Thanks.

          • yannaro June 7, 2014 at 11:16 am -

            No accusations. I wasn’t referring to your situation. And a priest has a duty to speak with his bishop when there is a situation that requires clarification. If something comes up in confession then it can be discussed but only without names. My comment referred generally to priests and bishops.

  30. Eftychios June 6, 2014 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    In Our Most Holy Orthodox Church, it does not matter what I believe or think, what is correct. What you believe or think what is correct. Me and you have many Evil and Sinful Passions, and definitely we are not guided by the Most Holy Spirit. The Holy and Saintly Orthodox Fathers of Our Most Precious Orthodox Church are ALWAYS guided by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Fathers call Homosexuality, one of the Most Evil, Satanic, Demonic, Worst of All Passions is the Lust between Men. ABOMINATION of DESI-CREATION. Total Destruction of Both SOUL and BODY. The Wrath of the Almighty GOD comes upon that person who by choice becomes a Homosexual (Gay).

    Our Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST and His Bride the Holy Orthodox Church is the Same in the Past, Present, and in the Future. He does not change for our Modern Times. The Bible has been around for over 2,000 years speaking How Evil Homosexuality Is. Do you think JESUS and His Holy Orthodox Church is going to change for your Demonic, Satanic, Lust for other Men. ” REPENT THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS AT HAND”

    Who ever corrects himself to the framework of the Holy Scriptures is a True Orthodox Christian. He, who fights them, finds himself outside the rule of the Holy Faith. And if this deceived person comes to tell you that Holy Scripture teaches what he believes, then, tell me, have you no mind of your own or reasoning ability.
    (Saint John Chrysostomos)

    The Bible consistently tells us that Homosexual activity is a sin (Genesis 19:1-13; Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9). Romans 1:26-27 teaches specifically that Homosexuality is a result of denying and disobeying God. When people continue in sin and unbelief, GOD “gives them over” to even more wicked and depraved sin in order to show them the futility and hopelessness of life apart from GOD. 1Corinthians 6:9 proclaims that homosexual “offenders” will not inherit the kingdom of GOD.

    GOD does not create a person with Homosexual desires. The Bible tells us that people become Homosexuals because of sin (Romans 1:24-27) and ultimately because of their own choice. A person may be born with a greater susceptibility to Homosexuality, just as some people are born with a tendency to violence and other sins. That does not excuse the person’s choosing to sin by giving in to sinful desires. If a person is born with a greater susceptibility to anger/rage, does that make it right for him to give into those desires? Of course not! The same is true with Homosexuality.

    The Holy Fathers in Our Orthodox Church describe Homosexuality a “Greater” SIN than any other. All sin is offensive to GOD. But Homosexuality Brings about the Wrath of GOD. Homosexuality is just one of the many things listed in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 that will keep a person from the kingdom of God. According to the Bible, GOD’S forgiveness is just as available to a Homosexual as it is to an Adulterer, Idol Worshipper, Murderer, Thief, etc. If that person repents (tears of True repentance are shed for that Abominable Great SIN) and confesses that Grave SIN to a Orthodox Spiritual Father. GOD also promises the strength for victory over sin, including Homosexuality, to all those who will believe in Jesus Christ for their salvation (1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:13), and repent and confess their Sins.

    Saint John Chrysostom Denounces Homosexual Acts as being Contrary to Nature. Commenting on the Epistle to the Romans (1: 26-27), he says that the Pleasures of Sodomy are an Unpardonable Offense to Nature and are Doubly Destructive, since they Threaten the Species by Deviating the Sexual Organs away from their Primary Procreative end and they Sow Disharmony between Men and Women, who no longer are inclined by physical desire to live together in peace.

    The Holy Saintly Brilliant Patriarch of Constantinople employs most severe words for the vice we are analyzing. Saint John Chrysostom makes this strong argument: “All Passions are Dishonorable, for the Soul is even more Prejudiced and Degraded by SIN than is the Body by Disease; but the WORST OF ALL PASSIONS IS LUST BETWEEN MEN…. The Sins against Nature are More Difficult and Less Rewarding, since True Pleasure is only the one According to Nature. But when GOD abandons a man, everything is turned upside down! Therefore, not only are their Passions [of the Homosexuals] SATANIC, but their lives are DIABOLIC….. So I say to you that these are even worse than Murderers, and that it would be Better to Die than to Live in such Dishonor. A Murderer only separates the SOUL from the BODY, whereas these Destroy the SOUL inside the BODY….. There is Nothing, Absolutely Nothing more MAD or Damaging than this Perversity.” (St. John Chrysostom, In Epistulam ad Romanos IV, in J. McNeill, op. cit., pp. 89-90)

    “And the Great Issue now of Homosexuality in your Country, that shall be on the balance that Michael holds. Unless this balance is evened by removing this EVIL from your Country and bringing in Just Laws to prevent the spread of Homosexuality, you cannot be saved; your Country cannot be saved. Because I repeat again, as I have repeated in the past: When a Country has given itself over to Immorality and all Pleasures of the Flesh, and Abominations of the Flesh, then that Country will FALL! If you do not believe Me, My children, I say: You will read your history books, and you will find out that there was a Sodom and Gomorrah. And what did We do to that Abominable city, Sodom? We Destroyed it! And what did We do to Gomorrah? We Destroyed it! And We Destroyed all who did not follow the plan for their redemption.”

  31. Yodaman Snuffilufagus June 6, 2014 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    Cleonike I am NOT in awe of his courage. I'm rather in awe of his audacity to demand that a 2000 year old Church change it's longstanding tradition. Who are WE to say to the Church: "Change to accomidate my lifestyle?" Talk about entitlement. Look at what's happened morally over the last fifty years. We've legalized abortion, gambling, profanity on TV; we're also in the process of legalizing marijuana. And in the midst of this moral decay homosexuals want their freedom too. Now the transsexuals are coming out and they want their rights. When this decade is over we will put what happened in the 60"s to shame. It's all become the celebration of perversion. Let me make something clear: Homosexuals ARE ALWAYS welcome into the Church but because of their perversion they cannot partake of the body and blood of Christ. That being said, I believe in my heart that the Church dropped the ball on people who struggled with homosexuality. I think we could've done a lot more and made them feel more welcome. At the same time each and every heirarch has an obligation to stand up for truth. And the same goes for the priests, too. Greg, I'm sorry the priests who support you are dead wrong. And so is that spiritual father of yours. Where are they finding in the tradition of Orthodoxy that the Church has allowed this? And why the heirarchs are so silent I don't know. You figure that at least one of the two bishops we have in Chicago would speak. But let me tell you what the real problem is. In our culture today we lack the ability to speak the truth – the Biblical truth. We're all about love and not about speaking the truth IN love. I am surprised by the number of people who hate Mr. Pappas on this post. Not because they stand against him taking communion but because they're patting him on the back saying things like: "I support you/ it's okay." According to the Church you condemn yourself by engaging in such acts. You deaden your soul! And this isn't my opinion but the opinion of the saints! And who are we to change what they say? I refuse to hate Greg by saying "Good for you." I refuse to Hate Greg by saying "Do what YOU want to do." I love Greg. He is my brother in Christ and because I speak in love AND truth, I want him to know that in speaking against his lifestyle, I LOVE HIM more than anyone who agrees with him on this issue. According to the Christian faith I love him more than his family and friends who support his homosexual lifestyle. You know what, in years past we used to condemn people to hell with force. Today we do it with a pat on the back. There has never been so much hate disguised as love. But this is what happens when you speak only of love and neglect truth. God bless you Greg. You're my brother in Christ and I will always pray for you.

  32. Kim Stavrinakis June 7, 2014 at 12:04 am - Reply

    I commend you on you candor. It deeply saddens me that the very people who are suppose to be open and living the word think they are the ones that posess the power to judge. The bible clearly states love thy neighbor as thyself.

  33. Kim Stavrinakis June 7, 2014 at 12:06 am - Reply

    That Preist should be shaved. He is not worthy to teach and serve as he forgot Gods teachings

  34. FrHector Firoglanis June 7, 2014 at 2:57 am - Reply

    As someone who has grown to know and respect Fr. John as a loving brother in Christ and fellow priest, there is no doubt in my mind that he acted out of pastoral care and concern for this man's soul. So many today fail to understand that the Eucharist is therapeutic medicine for repentant sinners; however, it is judgment and condemnation to those who do not repent for their sins (1 Cor. 11:27-31).

    The hidden danger of the sin of homosexuality is when we label it as a lifestyle or a genetic trait, and not as a sin that we must struggle against. Just as a priest would be inclined to withhold Holy Communion from a person who justifies their addiction to pornography or gossiping as a lifestyle or a genetic predisposition (instead of repenting), a person who actively lives a homosexual lifestyle without any inclination towards repentance or struggle against the homosexual tendencies would also be withheld communion. Our Orthodox Faith is not "intolerant" but it seeks the healing of our souls through repentance. Without a "broken (repentant) and humbled heart" (Ps. 51), none of us should dare to approach our Lord's Sacred Body and Blood.

  35. George Costalas June 7, 2014 at 3:15 am - Reply

    Typical arrogance and ignorance. Everyone is wrong but him. He should thank Fr. John for carting more about his soul than he does.

  36. Georgios Neketis June 7, 2014 at 3:23 am - Reply

    Mr. Gregory Pappas,

    Since you are all for full disclosure, we would like to know the following:

    1. Who is your Spiritual Father in Chicago?

    2. Is your Spiritual Father a Homosexual Also like yourself ?

    3. If your Spiritual Father is a Homosexual like yourself? Do you think Gregory Pappas that he is the Correct Person for you to take spiritual advice from ?

    In the Holy Bible JESUS, says “If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into Hell.” If they don’t repent & confess their sins, also stopping the sins that they are committing. Punishment of Sin is Eternal Hell Fire.

    Jesus used “blind leaders of the blind” to refer to the “ Pharisees (High Priests at that Time) & the Scribes (Professional Interpreters of the Law)

    4. Is your Spiritual Father in Chicago a High Priest (Pharisee) of the Holy Orthodox Church of JESUS CHRIST ? Telling you it is Okay to take Holy Divine Communion. The Body and Blood of Our Lord JESUS.

    You wrote Gregory Pappas,

    Since this story went public, I have received more than two dozen invitations from Greek Orthodox priests and two bishops, all of whom welcomed me into their churches to serve me the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Are they wrong? Will they be breaking canon law? Is Fr. John better than them for applying his perception of the letter of the law?

    5. Who are these 2 Bishops that said you can take Holy Communion ?

    If they said that you can take Holy Communion they should both be Defrocked as Bishops. (Removed as Bishops)

    6. Who are the two dozen priests who invited you to their parishes to receive Holy Communion?

    If this is True they should be removed as Priests in the Holy Orthodox Church of JESUS CHRIST.

    Gregory Pappas if you want to be respected as a real voice, reveal your source– if there even is one…

    Is it possible that you who are a Homosexual, and also maybe your Spiritual Father as well? You Both Have a Demonic agenda to push for Homosexuals to take Holy Divine Communion in the Holy Orthodox Church of JESUS CHRIST ?

    Woe to the Homosexual that does NOT Repent and Confess their Sins. The Wrath of the Almighty GOD will come upon them and Destroy them. Lust of flesh for Men with Men is one of the Worst Sins that a person can commit. ABOMINATION of DESOLATION from GOD Himself.

    I Hope and Pray that you Repent & Confess and Change your Beyond EVIL Sins, that you are Committing.

    The Gates of Hell will never Prevail over the Only True Orthodox Church of JESUS CHRIST, Our Almighty GOD.

    Georgios Neketis

    • admin June 7, 2014 at 6:59 am - Reply

      Since you know so much about the Church, sir, you should know that a pastoral conversations in a pastoral capacity are a private ones– like doctor and patient. This is a big difference between gossiping and using a fictitious source to prove a point. Furthermore, priests have gone public in their support. Have a look around the social media and you will see for yourself. Here we go again with demons. It’s 2014 Mr. Neketis… 2014. The only demons around you are on television and in your mind.

      • agatha mantanes June 7, 2014 at 12:05 pm - Reply

        AS a Greek orthodox I have to apologize for these peoples ignorance . They fail to se the ultimate GOD made us all and we are not to judge but to offer comfort and love to all our brethren. Hate of anything or anyone has no place in orthodoxy only acceptance.

      • anastasia zouvelos June 7, 2014 at 6:23 pm - Reply

        Mr. Pappas, regardless of what year we live in, are you stating that there are no demons? did they exist long ago and since become extinct?to quote even Hollywood “the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he doesn’t exist” there are demons everywhere. where do you think all the evil in the world comes from? all the mental illness? why are so many people depressed, suicidal, homicidal? this is evil! when we sin, we fuel this evil too! and we are prideful of our sins-we fuel it even more.

        • admin June 7, 2014 at 7:02 pm - Reply

          Your comments are now offensive and insensitive when you begin to equate people with mental illness and those who have committed suicide to demons. Ms. Zouvelos, you are a disgusting human being. I have nothing further to say to you and will not comment. It’s impossible to even have a civilized conversation with someone so fanatic and so brainwashed like you. The word for you in Greek is kakomira… I really feel bad for people like you. Good bye.

          • anastasia zouvelos June 7, 2014 at 11:03 pm -

            Mr. Pappas, why would you feel bad for me? because you believe I am brainwashed for following the beliefs of the same Church that you yourself served for so many years? then you sir are the hypocrite. not only are you self righteous enough to believe that a sin is not a sin simply because you want to live that lifestyle, but now you are stating that there are no demons in 2014? when did they cease to exist? so now you are going to re-write the Tradition of the Church. you can even ask any of the many priest and bishops who HAVE given you their blessing for Holy Communion, since they DID tell you what you want to hear, and that seems to be the only people you want to listen to.
            Mr. Pappas, of course there are demons. they are not a figment of my imagination or anyone else’s. they exist to torment us. since you served the Church for so many years, perhaps you would care to know what the Church has to say regarding demons and demon possession. again, not my words. the words of Rev George C Papademetriou, Ph.D. For the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese

            Rev. George C. Papademetriou, Ph.D.

            The Doctrine of Evil

            To understand the Orthodox view and practice of exorcism, one must know the Orthodox presuppositions of evil and its doctrine of Satan. The patristic evidence points to the fact that the cause of evil in the world is the devil. The devil was created by God as an angel, who was free, and as a free agent chose to oppose the plan of God. That is, the devil is a fallen angel. Satan is not evil by nature, but by will and action. In Satan there is no truth whatsoever; he is absolute falsehood and deception. Satan is not just a negation or deprivation of good, but a positive force with free will that always chooses evil. The devil has the ability to recognize divine power, as in the incident of recognizing Christ as the Son of God (Matt. 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-3). Satan has under his leadership legions and invisible powers, with their own “satanic teachings.” The devil and evil spirits know that God exists and recognize true and devoted Christians, but pious Christians discern the plans of the devil. The devil, however, constantly employs every method of deception to enslave man to satanic forces and causes rebellion against God. He is the cause of corruption and disorder, a parasitic power in the world that will ultimately be destroyed by the power of God in the “last days.” Because there is no compromise between God and the devil, the struggle will continue until the end.

            The Orthodox doctrine of God is that He is eternal, uncreated and incorporeal. All other creatures, both visible and invisible, were created by God as free. The power of the devil will ultimately be destroyed by the resurrection of the dead and the renewal of creation. Salvation from all evil will be attained by obedience to God and His plan. This world is a battleground between the acceptance of good and evil. It must be pointed out that the world as the creation of God is not evil. What is evil is the satanic power, destroyed by the power of the cross and the resurrection of Christ.

            The Orthodox Tradition of Exorcising

            After examining the doctrine of Satan in the Orthodox Church, it is imperative to proceed to the method of repelling and exorcising the evil powers. In the New Testament, Christ sent out His apostles to heal and to “cast out devils” (Matt. 10:8, Luke 10:17-20). Christ Himself often expels demons from the possessed (Mark 1:23-27; Luke 4:33-35, 9:43; Matt. 10:1; Mark 16:17; Matt. 7:22). The New Testament, however, rejected popular uses of magic incantations and rites to expel the satanic powers from people, because they took advantage of superstitious religiosity (Acts 19:13).

            In the name of Christ, one is able to cast out demons and to destroy the evil powers (Matt. 10:8). The Fathers of the Church accepted this doctrine and expanded on it. Justin Martyr (Apology 85, 2) says that in the name of Christ, the Son of God who was crucified and rose again, every demon that is exorcised is defeated and submits (Library of the Greek Fathers and Church Writers, Athens: Apostolike Diakonia 1955, Vol. 3, pp. 288-89). The satanic powers are destroyed through the power of the cross and the name of Christ. Objects possessed by demons, when exorcised in the name of the living God, are freed from the possession of evil. The patristic evidence is abundant in the belief in possession and expulsion of the devil by the power of the word of God (Ignatios, Epistles to Philippians 3 and 12; Library of the Greek Fathers and Church Writers, Vol. 2, pp. 333 and 336; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 4:14; Library, Vol 8, p. 82; Origen, Against Celsus, 6:44; Library, Vol. 10, p. 93).

            The demonic possession of individuals and even of objects, has been accepted by the Orthodox Church today in the Sacrament of Baptism, in exorcising satanic powers in the case of the evil eye (vaskania), and in exorcising the devil in the case of a possessed person. In the early Church exorcisms were performed by a person especially trained and appointed to pray to drive out evil from those about to be baptized. Since the fourth century the place of the exorcist, as well as other functions and ministries, have been taken over by the priest. The exorcisms are prayers that invoke God to expel evil spirits. The priest prays to expel all evil, the spirit of error, of idolatry, of covetousness, of Iying and every impure act that arises from the teachings of the devil. The renunciation of the devil in baptism is used in every baptism that is performed in the Orthodox Church.

            Vaskania

            The exorcism of satanic powers is also performed by the Orthodox Church in other rites, such as that of the evil eye (vaskania).

            Vaskania is simply a phenomenon that was accepted by primitive people as fact. They believed that certain people have such powerful feelings of jealousy and envy, that when they looked on some beautiful object or individual it brought destruction. Vaskania is recognized by the Church as the jealousy and envy of some people for things they do not possess, such as beauty, youth, courage or any other blessing. The Church essentially rejected Vaskania as contradicting the concept of divine providence. The prayers of the Church to avert the evil eye are, however, a silent recognition of this phenomenon as a morbid feeling of envy. The Church forbids people to go to “readers” or other individuals for use of magical rituals to overcome the evil eye. These readers take advantage of the weakness of superstitious people and destroy them spiritually and financially by playing upon their imagination.

            There is also a secret rite performed by superstitious people to avert the evil eye, which verges on magic. Though the Church encourages even the laity to pray and exorcise evil, it rejects magical practices and rites. This secret rite is described as follows: “The exorcist (not a priest but an old woman) prepares a vial of olive oil and a small glass of water. She dips a finger in the oil, rubs it in a sign of the Cross on the victim’s forehead and lets one drop fall onto the water; she repeats the process, making a cross on the forehead, on the chin and both cheeks. If the devil is indeed present, the four drops of oil in the water join to form the ellipsoid shape of an eye. The ritual then calls for the reading of prayers and repeating the four signs of the Cross; the drops of oil will not join in the water, but will disperse.”

            The possession of individuals by the devil and demonic powers and the cure in the name of Christ is evidenced in the New Testament (Acts 3:2-8, 9:32-42; 20:7-12; Matt. 10:8; Mark 16:17-18). The Church continues in its liturgical rites what Christ enacted in His ministry. The Church recognizes the influence of evil and renounces it in the name of Christ in prayers and fasting. The prayers of exorcism in the early Church were offered by special ministry through the exorcist. This is evidenced from the early prayers that have survived. From the fourth century onwards, the ministry of the exorcist has been fulfilled by the priest.

            Orthodox Prayers of Exorcism

            All the Orthodox prayer books include prayers of exorcism used by priests to fight the power of evil. The Orthodox Book of Prayers (Euchologion To Mega) includes three prayers of exorcism by Saint Basil and four by Saint John Chrysostom. They are read “for those who suffer from demonic possessions and every other malady.” Through these prayers, the devil is exorcised (renounced) “in the name of God Almighty and the Lord Jesus Christ, and commanded to come out of the victim, who is liberated and redeemed by the eternal God from the energies (powers) of the impure spirits. The great ills that humanity suffers are attributed to the devil and demonic power.”

            From the Orthodox theological point of view, the following can be considered exorcists:

            1.Christ is the exorcist par excellence for it is He who won the victory over the power of the devil.

            2.Priests in the performance of the holy sacraments and in preaching the word of God follow Christ’s example.

            3.All Orthodox Christians are exorcists as they struggle against personal sin and social evil. In fact, “the whole Church, past, present and future, has the task of an exorcist to banish sin, evil, injustice, spiritual death, the devil from the life of humanity.” Archbishop Iakovos, in a sermon at the Sage Chapel, Cornell University, spoke on exorcism in the following manner: “Both healing and exorcising are ministered through prayers, which spring from faith in God and from love for man…. All the prayers of healing and exorcism, composed by the Fathers of the Church and in use since the third century, begin with the solemn declaration: In Thy Name, O Lord.’ ” (Exorcism and Exorcists in the Greek Orthodox Tradition, March 10, 1974.)

            In summary, the four prayers of exorcism by Saint John Chrysostom and the three of Saint Basil ask in the name of God to deliver the possessed from the captivity of the devil. Some can be healed by faith accompanied by fasting and purification. The use of exorcism must be made with discretion and great care. (For details, see G. Papademetriou, “Exorcism and the Greek Orthodox Church,” in Exorcism Through the Ages, New York: Philosophical Library, 1974.)

            Copyright: © 1990-1996 Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

          • admin June 7, 2014 at 11:07 pm -

            It’s so easy to “copy and paste” and so hard to reflect, to love and to understand, to feel– for yourself. You pathetic creature you. Open your mind. Open your soul. Free yourself from these shackles you poor, poor thing– and for heaven’s sake– think for yourself and leave the copying and pasting to students whose mind hasn’t had a chance to develop. Fundamentalism destroys minds. You are a perfect example of that.

          • anastasia zouvelos June 8, 2014 at 12:38 am -

            I am pathetic because I am not as self centered as you are? you, who believes that “your convictions are stronger than my institution? I am not educated as you are Mr. Pappas. I am a simple housewife from Astoria. how much am I supposed to open my mind? until I too believe that I know better than the Church? “the mind should not be so open that the brain falls out” G.K Chesterton. are we supposed to keep trying to chip away at the Faith and remold and fashion the Church according to how we FEEL! lest we hurt anyone’s feelings? we cant offend anyone nowadays, except GOD, WE CAN ALWAYS OFFEND GOD and that is OK. what will be left of the ONE HOLY CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH? the kinda sorta ok church where we don’t hurt your feelings no matter what you want to do? I have friends and family who are gay, I love them I feed them I am there for them, but I am not going to tell them that their lifestyle is good to avoid hurting their feelings, just like I am not gonna tell a friend who is contemplating an abortion that it is good no matter what the reason behind it.. I have children and if one of them tells me they are gay I will not love them any less and I will never cease to take care of them but I will not be attending any same sex weddings. something is either good or it is bad. very simple

            you are gay, you probably struggled with these feelings for a long time knowing what the Church teaches on homosexuality (since you have been involved in the Church since birth) but YOU made the decision of your own free will to live a gay lifestyle. YOU decided that what you felt was more important than what the Church teaches. you have told the world about it. and YOU use your media outlet to attack this priest and the CHURCH. you know better than the Church obviously, than thousands of years of Church Tradition, than all the elders and Saints who have written on this subject. and better than Jesus Christ Himself you established the Church for YOU and ME. shackles? Faith is Shackles? believing in Church Tradition is Shackles? Think for myself? like you do? then why do you care what this priest or the Church says? because you are bitter that you did all those things for the Church:parish council president, Greek dance teacher etc. and now you cant get your way. you can live with your convictions since you want to “think for yourself” and make up your own rules for yourself. who is the pathetic one?

          • agatha mantanes June 8, 2014 at 6:52 am -

            Can you open minded enough to understand that 90% of the rules placed on Christianity are imposed man not Crist or God. and that
            popes and Bishop’s change the rules regularly .

  37. Gus Bubaris June 7, 2014 at 8:40 am - Reply

    Like the boy scouts, local playground, grade school, and public swimming pool, its ok that our church protects a deviant-free environment.

  38. Michael Lawson June 7, 2014 at 12:51 pm - Reply

    I ask myself , what would Jesus do ? The answer is he would serve you as he served others and accepted others for their faith in God ! This priest should be removed immediately

  39. Anastasia Zouvelos June 7, 2014 at 8:12 pm - Reply

    now the Church gets attacked from the inside as well as the outside! as soon as a priest tells us something we don't want to hear THEY ARE HYPOCRITES! the priest is good enough to marry us, baptize us and our children, visit our sick parents in the hospital, perform our Liturgies, bury our dead, conduct bible study, hear our confession, and make and give us Holy Communion, but not good enough to instruct us and counsel us on how we should lead our lives. of course the priest is a sinner, so are we all, but it is the priest's job to help us. the priest has nothing to gain except for ridicule from members of his own Church.

    This Church was good enough for Mr Pappas to be so involved in as Parish Council President, etc, but now the same parish that he and his family has been so involved and dedicated to for so many years told him something he didn't want to hear and now they are hypocrites. too many people treat the Church like a Greek fraternal organization. the Church is not your Sylogo. to meet up with and be around other Greeks. it is not about parish council or Goya or boy scouts or basket ball or festivals or greek school or anything other than OUR SALVATION! that is the job of the priest, OUR SALVATION

    why would someone who doesn't care what the Church has to say about homosexuality want to take Holy Communion in the same Church? because we want what we want when we want it! its not about the Holy Communion, it is about getting our way. just like the couples who chose not to marry in the Church, but want their children baptized. and when we do not get our way, we don't want to hear anything the priest has to say, because he offended us he is a hypocrite!

    every time I hear a complaint about a priest or the Church it is because the one who is doing the complaining did something that shouldn't have and the priest called them out on it. no one says, hey the priest told me not dress half naked in church, maybe I should cover up? they say" how dare the priest tell me what to wear in church" or the priest had the nerve to tell me and my baby daddy to get married in the church before we baptize our kid, who is he to tell me to do this? its always a matter of wanting to get our own way instead of thinking that the priest is helping us.

    sin, whatever that sin may be is bad enough. but pride in that sin is 100% worse! there are many men and women who struggle with feelings of homosexuality. attraction to the same sex, but do not act upon it. having those feelings is not the sin, acting upon them is. we all have lustful thoughts (heterosexual as well as homosexual) but we are told to control ourselves and not act upon them. many saints in the Greek Orthodox Church struggled with passions. we are made in the image and likeness of God. meaning, we all have the POTENTIAL to be saints. with no other sin do people try to excuse themselves like with homosexuality "I was born this way!" some people are born with an addictive personality but they don't excuse themselves if the become gamblers. some have a tendency toward violence but do not excuse themselves when they hurt someone. we are all sinner, but the goal is not to be, not to excuse ourselves when we sin because it is how we feel.God became man so that man may become GOD! St Athanasios. it doesn't mean that because we are made in the image and likeness of God that anything we do is HOLY like God. we have free will! we are given bible, Church tradition, PRAYER, FASTING, biographies of saints, Sacraments, a Church priests, canons commandments etc. all these things to guide that free will in the right direction. all for our salvation!gay people are children of God, made in His image as well as all of us. they are to be loved and cared for by us all, but one can not say to them or to anyone else-keep on sinning because I love you and I want you to be happy. parents love their children they care for them and give them advise. if your child is living a lifestyle you know is evil, wouldn't you as a mother or father, advise them to stop. it means that you love them. so too a priest looks after his flock.

    and to all those who comment that they do not need a priest and that they can talk to God privately at home and confess their sin privately at home at that God forgives them. God loves and forgives us and has given us the Church AND THE sacraments OF THE church, IF YOU FEEL THIS WAY CONTINUE TO CONFESS YOUR SINS AT HOME TO GOD AND MAKE YOUR OWN COMMUNION at home AND BAPTIZE YOUR CHILDREN AT HOME AND DO YOUR WEDDINGS AT HOME TOO AND WHILE YOU ARE AT IT HAVE YOUR FUNERALS AT HOME TOO.

    Holy Communion should always be approached with prayer, fasting and repentance. for all of us.

  40. Anastasia Zouvelos June 7, 2014 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    Mr. Pappas facebook profile quote is "my convictions are stronger than your institution" then why does he care if he is refused Holy Communion in this Institution- the Orthodox Church? why does he care about the Church at all? He can stick to his convictions . you cannot have it both ways.

  41. George Zouvelos June 8, 2014 at 8:29 am - Reply

    Mr. Pappas,

    This is your blog and respect your right to post your opinions and thoughts as you deem fit. Thank you for permitting us to engage in open dialogue with you, your subscribers and comment on your site content. It is valuable to exchange ideas no matter how offensive, rigid or naive they may at times seem.

    That said, I have learned long ago that if you give something your valuable attention you give it value, however little value can be quantified. I also believe that if you permit lies or uncorrected factional beliefs fester, and without challenge you do a great disservice to your own community and society. These ideologies become seeded in the minds of lesser aware individuals and instead of them being mere opinions or positions they become unsubstantiated fact patterns to be improperly propagated by the unknowing.

    I know this, we are all products of a heterosexual procreation coming forth from our mothers womb. Irrespective if one or both of the parents were gay, lesbian, straight, transgender or what have you, having children is sanctioned and encouraged by society and the church. Society and the church can only propagate if we have children that believe in the teachings of Christ. Typically, One egg (woman) and one sperm (male). Fully acquiescing to the fact that one parent pregnancies (without the participation or marriage to the father or mother) have become more and more societal norms, but these are still not encouraged or sanctioned by the church.

    Personally, I do not have a problem with anyone’s sexual preference. Sexual preference cannot be construed as anything other than conscience decision made by an individual irrespective of the ideologies which state in part, “some are born this way.” No different than a man lusting for a women and women for women etc. The church has deemed it wrong, no matter how much our own tastebuds and personal choices lust.

    Not so long ago, homosexuals were burned in Hitlers ovens as were others who were labeled inferior or undesirable pursuant to the insane and false teaching of Arian doctrines. I’m not going to call these doctrines, “doctrines of intolerance and hate” that would be granting them even a minis caul amount of credibility when their mere existence not only shock the conscience, but are purely demonic.

    Among the things that troubles me about any factional doctrine, especially relating to personal preference, is not getting it shoved down my throat or deemed more important or position, or more valid or important then the ones that I believe in and follow. Simply, you are entitled to your opinion; I will always defend your right to express it; especially when I do not subscribe to it; but, only up until you minimize, dismiss and attack any opposition to my beliefs, and on a personal level, because they differ from your own. To me, that’s called being an intolerant, unenlightened, self righteous and self absorbed megalomaniac and hypocrite.

    I believe in the teachings of the church, but I am also a sinner. That may make me a hypocrite on some level, but I do not have any problem admitting it, as I confess I know right from wrong, especially when I make “personal choices” that differ from the teaching of the church.

    Your upbringing based on traditional church values and teachings programmed you to appreciate the body and blood of Christ and to be forgiven from your sins. I noticed you find tremendous value in receiving communion from the church and your initial posting dealt with the “singling” out of you because of your purported homosexuality. I know plenty of sinners who take communion, but they do not publicize, when going up for communion or openly posting on Facebook etc, that they coveted thy neighbors husband, wife and their neighbors to.

    I also belong to the earthly church body as a steward. I believe that my body is a vessel holding my soul- both belonging to Our Creator. You must understand that relationship does not mean or it is a requisite that either require or need to yield to my personal choices and decisions. These are my very own; made by my own free will; and I fully expect, at the end, or maybe sooner, to be personally held accountable for everything I do and say. Like I it or not, it is the same for all.

    Otherwise, I will not stand in church or in the community and criticize the church for its teachings on “personal choice” issues because those teachings are original doctrine belonging to the original church that are propagated today–that may differ from my very own conscience decisions and personal choices— and yours. If one does not like the teachings of the church regarding these matters, they can ignore, disregard, or leave. The church Is not going anywhere, as so long as it’s followers trust in its doctrines, teachings and participate.

    I believe that today, our church is not going to change its stance on homosexuality, adultery or anything else self admitted which places anyone Not to be “in communion” with it. Tomorrow, and that is what many are feverishly working on, the church “may” soften it’s stance, but I do Not think will reverse it altogether.

    Face it, this is not the United States Supreme Court openly susceptible to the outcries and opinions of the latest civil factional fads and trends relating to the law of man. The Greek Orthodox Church is the original church of Christ, representing the law of God, however imperfect it may seem, it is what it is.

    Perfectly Imperfect and don’t mind admitting it.

    George Zouvelos

    • admin June 8, 2014 at 8:36 am - Reply

      Sir, thank you for your comment. I hear you– I really do. But there is one problem with your argument. I didn’t choose to be created this way. I was born this way. And unless you are gay, you can’t be in any position to understand this. This wasn’t a “personal choice”. As I have stated in my post, people choose to commit adultery and kill. They choose to commit sins. But they don’t choose to be created with blond hair, blue eyes, and gay. For your information, long before I even knew what “sex” was, I knew I was different… I’m talking 6, 7 years old. My first years in elementary school I started having a strong confusion about why I felt “different”. Thanks again for your comment. I appreciate hearing from you.

      • anastasia zouvelos June 8, 2014 at 9:39 am - Reply

        You might feel that you were born gay, something I could never understand, but YOU MADE A PERSONALCHOICE to live a gay lifestyle knowing the teachings of the Church! YOUR PERSONAL choice! no church will condemn you for feeling “different”, but you and only you made a conscious decision to live the way YOU want to. like I said, YOU know better than the priest and the Church that you are attacking , because it is how you feel! you cannot have your convictions AND your institution. living a gay lifestyle is more important that Church teachings. very simple

        • admin June 8, 2014 at 9:45 am - Reply

          Mark Twain said we should never argue with idiots. I’m taking his words wisely now.

          • Jimmy the greek June 8, 2014 at 11:19 am -

            The Greek church is nothing but a business, motivated by money. If you donate ten thousand dollars to the church, your homogeneity won’t matter anymore. This is why I don’t even like going to church anymore. When priests get caught doing something wrong, they get sent to another church.

          • anastasia zouvelos June 8, 2014 at 11:19 am -

            again, you resort to name calling. I am pathetic, a kakomira and an idiot because I am saying something you don’t want to hear. did you or did you not make a conscious decision to live a gay lifestyle? a lifestyle you are very proud of. Gay Pride? you can lead any kind of life you like, but do not expect to be in good standing with the Church!!!you are the hypocrite, not Fr. John and not the Church. you seem to think you know better than the priest and the Church. instead of looking inward when confronted with this, you attack the Church and Fr John. the only people you will listen to are those who tell you what you want to hear. are you going to shop around until you find a new church and a new priest who will tell you what you want to hear?

            YOU posted this everywhere for all the world to see. a big pity party. you want others to feel your sense of entitlement that you can do whatever you decided because you decided to, and the Church should accept it. this Institution is stronger than your convictions Mr. Pappas and it always will be and how dare you attack it because you cant get your way. using the argument that some people have no control over how they are born, some with blond hair and blue eyes, and some gay- is ridiculous. again, you have had these different feelings since you were a child, but YOU DECIDED TO LIVE THIS LIFE! take responsibility for your own actions and realize that you have to live with it and that you cannot do that AND be a member in good standing in the Orthodox Church!

      • Giannis June 8, 2014 at 6:33 pm - Reply

        sir,

        Refer to the “axiom” comments I made the other day…the fundamental concept that God does not create someone for the purpose of sinning is paramount to the rest of the Orthodox faith..(Christ’s birth, Crucifixion, Resurrection, forgiveness of sins). The idea that anyone is “born this way” unfortunately is the introduction of a neo-heretical teaching, pushed real hard by the media during the last couple of decades, and the Church has not been very effective in calling it out…Many of the comments in this thread are becoming tangential in nature, because you don’t agree on this basic axiom, and the dialogs hit a dead end as a result.

        It is really important that you re-examine this concept thoroughly, even though I understand that this is what you have believed for years. Technically, this belief alone is probably enough (even for heterosexuals who believe it) to be denied Communion, because it seems quite heretical in nature, as it introduces a different understanding of how God creates humans than what the Church has been teaching.

        It is very serious theologically to accuse God of creating you in this way on purpose (this goes for heterosexuals who have bought into this idea as well), so please don’t brush this off, and best wishes while you contemplate and pray about this concept….God willing we can all work to prevent a destructive schism that is brewing in the Church by agreeing to the dogmatic beliefs first (no compromise there), and perhaps discussing some Canons (non-dogmatic but organizational/synchronizational in nature) in a future Ecumenical Council if needed.

        • yannaro June 8, 2014 at 7:14 pm - Reply

          Giannis, I must ask how you arrived at your conclusions in what you state above. Is this from reading (self taught), from formal theological training, etc.?

          • Giannis June 8, 2014 at 10:16 pm -

            Only heresy is self-taught, and the Church has only bestowed the title of Theologian to 3 individuals…St. John the Theologian, St. Gregory the Theologian, and St. Symeon the New Theologian…anyone else calling themselves a Theologian is technically an imposter, in the strictly traditional sense. Even if we studied “theology” in school, we should not call ourselves theologians, ever….you can’t ever be “trained” to be a real Θεολογος. I once had a very interesting encounter with a proudly atheist Communist who happened to have a “formal” & valid Theological University degree in Greece (he was supposedly teaching kids “theology” in primary/secondary school)…So, to answer your question we’ll need some more detail here…define “formal”, define “theological”, and define “training…would you consider an atheist with a valid “theology” degree to be “formally trained” and have a valid opinion?

            In the meantime:

            In St. Basil’s letters (c.a. 320 AD), there is a perfect analysis of the definition of “schism / heresy / illegal congregation (παρασυναγωγη)”… that’s certainly a good source to provide a description of how these “new opinions” that we see in this blog align with the definition I selected above….For the deeper details, feel free to look up how the terms επιθυμια, αμαρτια, αρσενοκοιτια and παρα φυσει αμαρτιαι are defined by the various Church Fathers over the last 20 centuries…you may also want to consult St. Ioannis Damaskinos’ “Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith” Εκδοσις Ακριβης της Ορθοδοξου Πιστεως, as one of the fundamental works on what dogmatically can and cannot come from God, and much more….

          • yannaro June 9, 2014 at 6:44 am -

            Well, there are several issues here. First, it is proper and acceptable for Orthodox to refer to some one as a theologian, even the athiest communist. He could very well expound on theories, etc. But would he be truly Orthodox? Are not Fr. Justin Popovich, Fr. Georges Florovsky and Fr. John Romanides Orthodox theologians? (Actually, Fr. Georges did not have a theological degree, Orthodox or not, but his was an extraordinary mind and he had an extraordinary Orthodox phronema.)On the other hand, Fr. John once said that in order to be an Orthodox theologian one first had to have ascended Mt. Tabor. So what does make a real theologian? What’s wrong with “book learning”? Orthodoxy and orthopraxy go hand in hand for the Orthodox. We need guides in the spiritual life and in understanding the writings and sayings of the fathers, just as we need St. John Chrysostom to understand Scripture, etc. But it is not at all a good idea for some one to just pick up books and read and assume they understand what they are reading and are able to give this knowledge to others. As for the particular issue here, whether some one is born homosexual is irrelevant. People can think what they may. We are born in a fallen state which is why we are subject to all sorts of difficulties, physical and emotional, some of which may be demonic. Some people believe mental illness is entirely demonic. Not true. It is not a sin to be homosexual. What we do with our sexual orientation is what counts. We probably agree, however, that, contrary to some of the comments here, a priest or bishop cannot give the Eucharist to some one who is in a relationship which involves sex outside of marriage in the Church, whether it be homosexual or heterosexual, if the clergy is aware of that situation. There is no difference. And clergy who give the Eucharist to such people do so at their own spiritual peril.

          • Giannis June 9, 2014 at 8:40 am -

            Yes, we do agree on your last point that all carnal acts outside of marriage defile the preparation that is otherwise required to receive Holy Communion. We also agree that St. Spyridon performed the miracle with the brick at the Ecumenical Council, and he was the least educated of all the attendees….on the contrary, Arius was a “trained” “theologian” in the sense that you define, but you see where that ended up…

            However, I think we are talking past each other on a basic point…the definition of sin…you seem to throw emphasis on the act as being the sin vs. the contemplation of the thoughts that precede the act…While I agree there is a significant step between contemplation of a thought and actual action on the thought, I don’t find your specific position consistent with what multiple patristic opinions on thoughts and their origins state…

            I still feel that any belief that someone is “born” into a state where they “can’t ever avoid” a particular sin, that God “programmed them like this”, and hence feel that God is responsible for their thoughts & actions, is not an Orthodox teaching. You can’t fight an enemy by surrendering before the fight begins.

  42. George Zouvelos June 8, 2014 at 9:33 am - Reply

    You are welcome. Thank you for publishing issues and items of tremendous cultural and societal importance, not only for our diaspora, but for the public at large.

    George Zouvelos

  43. Maria Sorolis June 8, 2014 at 6:30 pm - Reply

    They are just men. Who are they to say their sins don't preclude them from communion and what they believe is your sin does? I believe they are theologically wrong.

  44. Gia Rombakis June 8, 2014 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    I was beyond disappointed to read your article and what happened to you. I disagree with the priest's decision to deny you communion and find it reprehensible. I applaud your efforts to bring this out into the light. Just remember we follow Him, not him.

  45. Micheline Taddeo Toplak June 8, 2014 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    So sad that this happened to him!!! :(

  46. Christina Jones June 8, 2014 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    Finally, Greg Pappas, you have said/written something I agree with.

  47. Emanuel June 8, 2014 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    Greg, you shed light on a very blatant practice of hypocrisy in the Church, by which I mean all organized religions. Passing judgment based on a selective characteristic is unacceptable. The various reasons you stated in your post demonstrate the inanity of the argument. The message that has been drowned out by man’s interpretation of biblical teachings is Christ’s message to “love one another.” And elsewhere, “do unto others, as you would have others do unto you.” All the rest is noise, meaningless and irrelevant. I applaud your honesty and for speaking your mind!

  48. Anastasia June 9, 2014 at 6:20 pm - Reply

    Until someone has walked in another person’s shoes he can not judge him. No one should criticize or judge anyone. I am sorry that you, Greg, had to go thru this. The clergy must become more loving and compassionate and less righteous and pompous with its “holier than thou” attitude.

    • Anastasia Zouvelos June 9, 2014 at 11:39 pm - Reply

      You seem to be confused as to what the role of the priest and the Church is regarding parishioners. It is the priest’s job to advise us and to counsel us just like a parent leads his child in the right path even though the parent also does things that are not always right, so too the priest is to lead us down the right path. If a parent is helping their child should they care more about the right thing or worry about hurting their child’s feelings? It is a struggle for both the priest and the parishioner. And it is his duty to deny anyone Holy Communion if he feels they are not worthy. This priest is being attacked for doing his job. His job is our salvation. It is because he IS loving and compassionate that the priest wants what is good for us. Loving and compassionate doesn’t mean telling us we are rightened we are not and loving and companionate is sometimes hurting people’s feelings for their own good. He is good enough to perform all the other Sacranents for us. To marry us, to baptize our kids, to visit our sick to bury our dead. But if he tells us something we do not want to hear, instead of looking inward, we call him a hypocrite. The priest never said he himself is not a sinner, we are all sinners, Our goal us NOT to sin. but we need to recognize our sins and repent! Not try to excuse our sins.

  49. Jon Diamanti June 11, 2014 at 12:20 am - Reply

    The Lord in His life here on earth walked with many from all walks of life. All were sinners! Today's world is as troubled as the World was then if not more so! His message of Love, Understanding, and Compassion is still relevant! The hypocrisy of denying the Sacrament of Holy Communion for a specific son is ludicrous! Our Lord was and is a loving and forgiving God, and those who would deny this young man in essence, deny the Lord also! Judgment day will be for all peoples, only then, not now!

    • Emanuel June 11, 2014 at 3:06 pm - Reply

      When men decide what to pick for their doctrines for church policy, then you have this chaos. Jesus did not come to establish a religion; in fact he came to abolish them. His message is about love and forgiveness. Men have created a system that micromanages God and it’s all bs! I’m Greek Orthodox and enjoy what the traditions are all about, but I follow Christ’s teaching as they appear in a course in miracles. It’s worth checking this out and learning the truth.

  50. Andriy Andre June 12, 2014 at 1:15 am - Reply

    Dearest Gregory,
    I am not surprised by the actions of Father John. Unfortunately this spiritual and pastoral abuse takes place frequently in the Holy Orthodox Church. The situation is much worse in the Orthodox Churches of Russia, Ukraine, Greece and other traditional Orthodox countries. What is positive is that you have a spiritual father who understands that some people were created gay and others were not. What is also positive is that you have been contacted by priests and bishops with words of welcome. Why is this? Because those priests and bishops are true pastors. Or perhaps they have picked up a book on biology, psychology, modern science that has been published in the last thirty years and read it. It is also probable that they themselves are gay or have children, family members or close friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered and know first hand that there is no difference between straight people and people with different sexual orientations. They have also decided to speak as Christ did about homosexuality – nothing, Please continue to pray for the hierarchs and clergy who need to act pastorally when it comes to accepting people who are LGBT. Please continue to live your life in honesty and with dignity, but more importantly continue to show people the love of our Lord Jesus Christ. Andriy from OrthodoxandGay.com

  51. Dn Michael June 12, 2014 at 10:42 am - Reply

    I am reading some of these comments with my jaw hitting the floor. The Orthodox Church and those that serve the Church are not at liberty to change the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostles, or two-thousand years of tradition inspired by the Holy Spirit. Being homosexual is not a sin in the Church, just as being heterosexual is not a sin. It is what we do with that attraction and when we fall that we must ask for help and forgiveness since we are all sinners. That being said, I read someone stating that heterosexuals committing adultery on Saturday night appear to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ on Sunday morning and that is overlooked, by who? Certainly not by God. Judging oneself as a ‘good person’, beating the drum for social change regarding sexual behavior, condemning those who have given their lives to shepherd those in crisis has no place in Christ’s Church and is outside of any teaching of The Fathers. Our relationship, our salvation with Christ is a personal condition. Yet, all of this judging of the Ancient Church and those that uphold the Orthodox Christian teachings (do you even know what “Orthodox” means?) is about a complicated situation that probably no one commenting is even aware of in terms of the details. Satan just needs a small crack to enter a congregation and tear it apart with a fury. There is no need to come to the Church to change it, since it is Orthodox. There is no redefining or exclaiming new epiphanies about what Christ taught since that has been understood and taught by the Church for two-thousand years. People judged themselves as “good persons” and tried to pick and choose what is and isn’t sin way back then too. It is not an easy task to love others with the heart of Jesus Christ and say ‘no’ to sin. People would rather except sin than hurt somebodies feelings, but that leads away from salvation. That is why Christ meets each of us where we are at that, we might become more holy and be Christ to those in need. Jesus Christ forgives us when we make a mistake, but not when we try to rationalize that He did in His teachings. May God have mercy on those that try to deceive others and lead them away from His Church.

  52. Harry Coin June 13, 2014 at 2:20 pm - Reply

    Which way of living leads to the longest life, with fewest diseases for oneself and others? That is how the church calls us to live. Being 'for' something else isn't kindness. Having feelings contrary to one's physical reality is a hard road, folks who struggle with that deserve support from all of us. Not different than folks who are convinced they are fat though their thinness risks their health, etc. These people are OUR people, we have to 'keep it real' for all in a supportive way. That's truly being kind, though it isn't easy.

  53. Harry Coin June 13, 2014 at 9:33 am - Reply

    Which way of living leads to the longest life, with fewest diseases for oneself and others? That is how the church calls us to live. Being ‘for’ something else isn’t kindness. Having feelings contrary to one’s physical reality is a hard road, folks who struggle with that deserve support from all of us. Not different than folks who are convinced they are fat though their thinness risks their health, etc. These people are OUR people, we have to ‘keep it real’ for all in a supportive way. That’s truly being kind, though it isn’t easy. Some day our medical understanding will advance to comprehend these things in a scientific way. Until then, as unfashionable as it is at the moment, we have to uphold what we know will certainly lead to the longest healthiest life for the individual and the community both.

  54. Bint Alshamsa June 13, 2014 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    Well, honestly, remaining completely celibate throughout ones entire life and living completely apart from contact with any other humans is the best way to avoid diseases that are spread from person to person. However, we don't need to be "for" that in order to be Orthodox.

  55. Harry Coin June 13, 2014 at 3:16 pm - Reply

    Bint Alshamsa Let's not make a cartoon extreme then shoot at it as if that's what was suggested in the first place. We have to live in a way that has the best chance of long, healthy life that doesn't pass illness on to others. With our present knowledge and capability, that guidance is exactly what the church says. It won't do for you to overlook the point of my posting which calls for support and inclusion for folks struggling down that hard road. I asked for quite the opposite of 'living apart from human contact'. Come now, let's deal with the whole in a real and cooperative way.

  56. John Moses June 13, 2014 at 5:59 pm - Reply

    Someday, we might all take the reality of our fallen state with some seriousness. Then we might take with the same seriousness the power of grace to help us not live in our fallen state.

  57. Priest Richard Reed June 13, 2014 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Lord have mercy!

  58. Jack B. Westbrook June 14, 2014 at 7:58 am - Reply

    I read Mr. Pappas' article. He compared his open, blatant sin to those that are normally private, confessed sins before one comes to commune with The Lord. He also compared his homosexuality to doctrinal traditions of yore that were changed because there was no scriptural support for them. This is not so regarding homosexuality. Can a homosexual have communion? Yes, but he cannot openly be practicing that behavior and be served. That would be like me making my living as a thief and coming to the table. Wait! Maybe politicians can't be served after all.

  59. Benjamin Slayton June 14, 2014 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Hat's-off to the priest at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church! Sounds like we still have a few good men, after all. Too bad this guy has to be such a big baby about something he should have seen coming.

  60. Benjamin Slayton June 14, 2014 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    I didn't read the whole thing before getting sick with disgust. Apparently, some poushti is crying and throwing a tantrum because a priest won't give him the Eucharist, because he is homosexual. Sorry bub. I got no sympathy for ya! If you people weren't so vindictive and such crybabies, people would hate you less.

    The priest has the right (and the responsibility) to refuse sacraments to anyone he believes is living in sin, unrepentant; If you grew-up in the Greek Orthodox church, you know that. Not only is it in the interest of the priest to deny the Eucharist to you, it is in your own interest. I'm sure you know and don't care. The Sacrament is not the property of Father John, but he still has the right and responsibility to administer it or deny it to whomever he sees fit.

    Here's my advice to you. If you won't repent and make the difficult choice to struggle against your weakness, there is another option. There is this wonderful thing called The Episcopal Church and you should go check them out. There is the added benefit that you might get to hear a real organ as opposed to an embarrassing Allen mockery of an "organ". Not only do Episcopalians sing on key and prefer pipe organs to electronic trash, they are very welcoming and affirming to just about anything you can throw at them. Not only will they give you their sacraments, you can be a priest there, if you want!

    One thing I love about the Orthodox church is we're still stuck in the Middle Ages with our stubborn belief in concepts like sin. Unfortunately, being Medieval doesn't mean that I live in a castle, or wear armour and fight dragons, or even push a plough and live in a timberframe house (at least I would have my own place and a steady job).

  61. Nicholas Nelson June 15, 2014 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    Unfortunately he has a grave misunderstanding of the position of the church on this. The church does not discriminate against the person, ie. who you are. The church discriminates against what you do, because humans can be tempted to do the work of the devil and fall from grace. In the midst of the current political upheaval, many resputable doctors, scientists, and psychologists have conducted intuitive and integrated studies on the nature of homosexuality, and have produced no evidence or proof that homosexuality is a psychological condition that you are born with, but a mental condition that is caused by trauma and other lifestyle issues. You are for instance not born addicted to drugs, nor are people born with a sex addiction. It can be treated with professional help and counseling. There are many homosexuals who are now heterosexual that can attest to that it can be done. On the other hand, the church teaches that homosexuality is a sin, because it is associated with gratuitous lust, sodomy, and adultery, which simply happens to be the nature of the gay culture. Just as any known, unrepentant sinner, such as a muderer, prostitute, psycho-killer, etc cannot approach the chalice, a homosexual who refuses to admit the sin associated with their lifestyle and seek penitence and forgiveness for it, may not approach the chalice. For it is that we approach Christ with the spirit of acknowledging that we have sinned and seek His grace and forgiveness, and not with the spirit of taking what we want when we want and what I do in my life is my business. This is wrong because according to the church what you do in your life is Christ's business and you must include Him and seek His grace in order to commune and be united with Him. Grace is only given to those by Him who acknowledge the problem of sin and seek repentance and seek His grace. But continued sin without repentance and suffering or guilt before Him is not met with grace, but the condemnation of separating yourself from Him. Likewise God will not receive those into His kingdom who do not seek repentance for their sin, and so communing with Him without acknowledging the sin and seeking forgiveness will not be annointed with grace, but with condemnation. It is also true that no man is worthy to approach Him sitting in glory, for I am also a sinner, but it is the difference between the sinner who is ACKNOWLEDGING this unworthiness and confessing our sin to Him and seeking gates of repentance and mercy and grace, and the sinner who has a prideful and narcissistic outlook and refuses to seek Christs grace and confess that they have sinned, that separates those who will receive grace and those who will not, for we only approach Christ and receive His grace in the spirit of humility and penitence. Therefore, the priest did the right thing in consulting his spiritual father on how to guard His precious and life-giving body and blood so that it is administered where Christ will bestow grace, and not condemnation. This is the spirit of the faith often forgotten.

  62. Nicholas Nelson June 15, 2014 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    This man is currently in an outrage over his parish priest refusing to give him communion because he is homosexual. Unfortunately he has a grave misunderstanding of the position of the church on this. The church does not discriminate against the person, ie. who you are. The church discriminates against what you do, because humans can be tempted to do the work of the devil and fall from grace. It is the difference between a sinner's ability to ADMIT that they are a sinner and act upon it, or deny that they are a sinner and continue doing it, that separates the sinner who will receive grace, and the sinner who has fallen from grace. On one hand, in the midst of the current political upheaval, many reputable doctors, scientists, and psychologists have conducted intuitive and integrated studies on the nature of homosexuality, and have produced no evidence or proof that homosexuality is a psychological condition that you are born with, but a mental condition that is caused by trauma and other lifestyle issues. You are for instance not born addicted to drugs, nor are people born with a sex addiction. It can be treated with professional help and counseling. There are many homosexuals who are now heterosexual that can attest to that it can be done. On the other hand, THE CHURCH TEACHES that homosexuality is a sin, because it is associated with gratuitous lust, sodomy, and adultery, which simply happens to be linked to gay culture, because it is the only way for two men to exchange physical intimacy in a homosexual relationship. Just as any known, unrepentant sinner, such as a murderer, prostitute, psycho-killer, etc cannot approach the chalice, a homosexual who refuses to admit the sin associated with their lifestyle and seek penitence and forgiveness for it, may not approach the chalice. For it is that we approach Christ with the spirit of acknowledging that we have sinned and seek His grace and forgiveness, and not with the spirit of taking what we want when we want and what I do in my life is my business. This is wrong because according to the church what you do in your life is also Christ's business and you must include Him and seek His grace in order to commune and be united with Him. Grace is only given to those by Him who acknowledge the problem of sin and seek repentance and seek His grace. But continued sin without repentance and suffering or guilt before Him is not met with grace, but the condemnation of separating yourself from Him. Likewise God will not receive those into His kingdom who do not seek repentance for their sin, and so communing with Him without acknowledging the sin and seeking forgiveness will not be anointed with grace, but with condemnation. It is also true that no man is worthy to approach Him sitting in glory, for I am also a sinner, but it is the difference between the sinner who is ACKNOWLEDGING this unworthiness and confessing his sin to Him and seeking gates of repentance and mercy and grace, and the sinner who has a prideful and narcissistic outlook and refuses to seek Christs grace, that holds the conviction in their heart that "my personal convictions of sin are more important" and are upset that the church did not consult them before they decided what was a sin and who refuses to confess that they have sinned, that separates those who will receive grace and those who will not, for we only approach Christ and receive His grace in the spirit of humility and penitence, and not denial and narcissism. Therefore, the priest did the right thing in consulting his spiritual father on how to guard Christ's precious and life-giving body and blood so that it is administered where Christ will bestow grace, and not condemnation. This is the spirit of the faith often forgotten, and the message that it truly conveys, for you are not "once saved, always saved" because salvation is a continuing process, and any man can fall from salvation and grace through his actions at any time. We must therefore be vigilant, and continue to include Christ in our everyday lives.

  63. Anne June 16, 2014 at 9:05 am - Reply

    Mr. Pappas,

    First let me say I am sorry for your experience. I can feel the hurt in your words.

    My little “story” is in no way as dramatic but it still bruised me.

    In 1995 I became divorced both civilly and via the Orthodox Church. After my years of serving as a Sunday school teacher for teens and working my best for the church I was quite upset when I was told by my parish priest that I could no longer receive Communion. Certainly I did not think I deserved to receive it just because I worked for the church. I guess I have a difficult time understanding why the Orthodox Church issues its own divorce decrees but in the same breath turns you away when you need it the most. Let me add here that my former husband was not denied Communion. Gee, do you think it was because “the woman” initiated the divorce?

    Shortly after my divorce I moved to another state and searched for a new Orthodox Church. After visiting a few, I found one that made me feel at home. I made an appointment with the parish priest so I could talk about my situation and I sought his counsel as to what I needed to do to proceed with possibly receiving Communion once again. After about a half hour of conversation, he got up from his chair, cupped my face in his hands, and he said “you be in my church this Sunday and humbly approach the chalice and receive Communion. This is a time when you need it the most.”

    I am by no means a biblical scholar but simply put, I thought this was what it was all about…..if I did something wrong, did I not deserve forgiveness if I repented?

    I have since moved to yet another state and rather than seeking out a new church, I am content speaking to God in my own way. As a matter of fact, I am retired and in order to relieve other family members from the responsibility of handling my remains when I pass away, I have decided to be cremated locally instead. According to the Orthodox Church this is not tolerated. It seems that my relationship with organized religion is over.

    By the way, I recently found out that the priest who married me and my former husband in the Orthodox Church was molesting young boys and of course, like the Catholic Church, it was covered up by the hierarchy.

    So, Mr. Pappas, I applaud your openness and I pray that your future is even brighter now that this ordeal is over. I hope that this dialogue, with both the positive and negative posts, is helping you cope with this situation.

  64. Theodore K June 16, 2014 at 10:35 am - Reply

    Yesterday at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church in Pittsburgh, a sister parish of Holy Trinity where this unfortunate incident took place, the priest said before communion that he was aware of the “situation” that everyone was speaking about regarding Greg Pappas. He then said that anyone who has properly prepared for Holy Communion was welcomed to receive it and no one should be judged and that he should not be the one judging them. Sounds like two camps in Pittsburgh… the fundamentalist camp in the North Hills and Canonsburg where a similar priest holds court– and everyone else trying to create a welcoming, loving environment that realizes the true message of Jesus Christ– one of love and compassion– of all people.

  65. Zoe Christodoulou June 17, 2014 at 10:03 am - Reply

    Very wrong to be treated like that. After all are not all clergy homosexuals and paedophiles!

  66. Zoe Christodoulou June 17, 2014 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Atheist

  67. John M June 17, 2014 at 8:41 am - Reply

    Fr. John is the culprit here. The last time I attended church was when he embarrassed the entire congregation when he used different colored church bulletins that he had his altar boys change at different times throughout the liturgy, to see who came at what time. It was a lesson in ego and power and an ugly display of ecclesiastical authority and self-righteousness. My grandparents came from Greece and settled in Pittsburgh in the early 1900s and were a part of that community when they were worshipping in a rented house, eventually to move to Sandusky Street and then to North Avenue. This man has destroyed the essence and spirit of this community and has driven most of the original founders and their descendants away. I now attend the Russian Orthodox Church only a few minutes from the new Holy Trinity. Surprisingly, there are a dozen other Greek families here– victims also of the dictator who wears a priests collar. Bravo Greg for making your voice heard. So many just walked away. I’m glad you spoke up.

  68. Thomas Carney June 17, 2014 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    John Pappas NO ONE has a right to Holy Communion. You may think you do, but you do not nor does anyone else. No one is born homosexual, that myth has been debunked. You chose it, you chose to be a homosexual. Stop crying and man up!

  69. Habte Selassie June 17, 2014 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    I am sorry for this ugly situation but lets be clear, was this brother forbidden from attending Divine Liturgy? Was he chased out of the parish functions? Was he kicked off the Council? If all that happened was a temporary excommunication, then he was not discriminated against in any way, period. Sour grapes is not bigotry. Communion isn’t even for every heterosexual, but the Church is indeed for everybody. All people, regardless of orientation should feel welcome to visit and attend services and celebrations within the Orthodox Church, but Holy Communion is a different matter. God will sort out his own, we are not worried or afraid of any societal backlash, because we aren’t bigots. Homosexuals can visit our parishes anytime, and I pray they stay for coffee :)

  70. Mary Jean June 19, 2014 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    I just got around to reading this. I admire your courage and the strength, and am behind 100% behind you. Keep on, be brave.

  71. Vasi King June 26, 2014 at 4:00 am - Reply

    TO Gregory: Just because a man of the cloth is deemed an authority in "religion instruction" and viewed by a congregation that he is high above the masses (in his community), doesn't mean he's a cruel man, it just shows, he's limited.
    Sometimes it takes something as huge as this slap to be awakened and realize, it's not YOU, but in fact the person who has been thought to be the salt of the community really isn't what he appears to be. And, through this slap, Gregory, YOU have found your true inner strength to share with the world your experience; although writing about it was also cathartic for you, at the same time your inner strength lit up and no one can ever take away your light – your power as a man.
    There are countless others who have gone through what you have and have since become stronger and or even permitted themselves to come OUT if they hadn't. Perhaps, through out all your life experiences to date, the one which most resonates with you passionately has been the one of you as a young man where you participated in many of your community events led by the church where you helped and mentored those younger than yourself to understand their strengths and to help them reach their goals..Perhaps now, YOU can continue that mentorship through other venues, organizations, which need your insight and input; today's gay youth needs you; needs US.
    Hopefully, you are over the backhanded slap, and perhaps you will never receive communion from Fr John's chalice, but that's from his chalice, which will forever represent his fears due to his personal limitations. He should learn from Bartholomew. Now, Gregory, as you begin to move forward, your work has truly just begun. Hold your head up high. Vasi King

  72. JB July 3, 2014 at 6:17 pm - Reply

    Greg, your approach to this is completely inappropriate. A priest speaks to you in a private conversation about a matter that exists between you, your priest, and your own parish community. But instead of dialoguing closely and *humbly* with the priest, the metropolitan, and that parish community, you fly up to your extremely public perch to squawk about your experience to the whole entire world. You’re acting with the immaturity of a teenager who disagrees with his teacher, so he he starts a public campaign against the teacher and uses social media to bring her down. And all the while, you claim “I’m no activist.” Then what are you doing writing an op ed in the Washington Post? Your publicity tactics are fooling no one. You are not merely feeling “hurt” and needing emotional support from the public. No, you are deliberately waging a public campaign to shame those who disagree with you into submitting to your views. YOU are the one waging war, by leveraging your power in the public limelight to make the church hierarchy bow before your views, rather than humbly and privately dialoguing with the people in your own community, your priest, and your bishop. Shame on you, Greg.

    • admin July 3, 2014 at 6:56 pm - Reply

      Dear “JB” (afraid to write your name?)– Thank you for your comment and psychological analysis of my person. So you know, there are dozens who came before me who DID NOT speak but now have a voice. Like the woman whose father was not buried and was told that THE DAY AFTER HE DIED, because he hadn’t completed his ecclesiastical divorce papers… Like the family of the man who served the parish faithfully for most of his adult life and committed suicide after his own wife died… egregious sins, I know. I also heard from not one, not two– but 13 families who have all left Holy Trinity and worship at the Russian Church a mile down the road. My dear JB, you know nothing about me or the wave of fundamentalism that is tearing apart our communities. I will use the gifts granted to me and the voice that I have built to speak up about ANY injustice. This community is bleeding and this priest’s actions have not only impacted me, but many, many families. And shame back at you for not having the balls to speak when you, yourself see an injustice occurring– because from the sounds of your comment, that’s exactly what you would do and in my book, that is called being spineless. Thank you “JB” for your comment. Have a great 4th of July weekend… and thank God our colonists spoke up. Imagine if they would have just pulled the Brits aside for a fireside chat instead of start their revolution.

    • John Michaels July 18, 2014 at 10:04 am - Reply

      From

      http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles4/AnonymousStruggle.php

      An Gay Orthodox Christian’s Struggle

      Anonymous Orthodox Christian

      When Matthew Shepard was brutally killed in 1998, people who called themselves Christians stood outside the church during his funeral picketing, proudly holding signs that affirm God’s hatred of homosexuals. Should it be surprising that many people with same-sex attraction feel a deep hostility to Christianity, when the kind of “Christianity” they have been exposed to is so full of contempt? Do we Christians really think we can lead these people to Christ by treating them with cruelty, rather than compassion? The true Gospel is one of love, not hate.

      On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who advocate the homosexual lifestyle, while calling themselves Christians. The Episcopal Church and other churches have abandoned whatever roots they had in historic Christianity, affirming what the gospel clearly calls sin.

      The Orthodox Church, in its holy wisdom, goes to neither extreme. Homosexuality is denounced as sinful, and rightly so. But the Orthodox Church does not condone any sort of violence or judgmentalism towards those who struggle with homosexual temptations. In this modern day mess in which so many churches feel compelled to go one way or the other, Orthodoxy remains an abode of sanity, rooted in ancient Christian tradition.

      As someone who has attractions to members of the same sex, and as a baptized and professing Orthodox, I have found myself in a spiritual “tug-of-war.” The wisdom of the world seducively holds out its hand, inviting me to dive in and live this lifestyle. My faith and my Church, however, stand firm in the conviction that the homosexual life is not a normal life, nor a healthy life, nor a God-pleasing life.

      There really is no pressure, though, neither from the world or from God. Orthodox do not adhere to predestination. I have free will, as do all other sinners. I have the choice to live my way or God’s way. My struggle, in many ways, is not much different than that of an alcoholic, or a compulsive gambler, or a married man who is tempted by other women. We either struggle to overcome these sins or we do not. Whichever choice we make, we will answer for it when we stand before the dread judgment seat.

      For a while, the choice I made was to just drop the “scruples,” and to pursue a life based on my homosexual inclinations. I frequented the bars, made a few actively homosexual friends, and developed an intense hatred of anyone I perceived to be “homophobic.”

      Depressed and confused, I would leave the bars with a deep feeling of emptiness. I found that I just did not fit in with this crowd of people who were so proud to be gay. Surely, there had to be something more fulfilling than a life based on sexual orientation, rainbow flags, and sex. I found the “gay” community to be immature, shallow, and obsessively concerned with outward appearances and other worldly things. In short, a life that gay books and magazines had told me was so fulfilling was actually rather miserable and depressing, not to mention spiritually, emotionally, and even physically harmful.

      At an earlier stage in my life, I believed I could change my orientation, that God would answer my prayers and make me heterosexual. Many “ex-gay” ministries, which are mainly Protestant, claim that alteration therapy can successfully change one’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. This has become a big business in Protestantism. Jon Paulk, an “ex-homosexual” and staff member of the ministry Exodus International, claimed to be completely healed from his homosexual orientation. He married a former lesbian and had children. Yet a few years ago, Paulk was caught in a gay bar. He later claimed he had merely entered the bar to use the restroom. I have my doubts that alteration therapy really works.

      I feel that such an approach is not healthy. In the scriptures, Paul is recorded to have suffered from a “thorn in the flesh.” He begged the Lord to take it away, but Christ responded, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12.9).” Paul goes on to say, “Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong (2 Cor. 12.10).” I wonder if that is not the way it should be with my infirmity, my same-sex attractions. Many times have I begged God to change my sexual orientation, to take away this “thorn.” For whatever reason, for my salvation, this is a cross I have to bear, and I may very well struggle with this issue the rest of my life.

      Instead of focusing on changing sexual orientation, I think the focus for Christians–particularly Orthodox Christians–who struggle with same-sex attraction should be purity. Instead of praying, “Lord, please make me straight,” they should be praying, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

      I am thankful to belong to a Church that is not afraid to stand up for biblical morality. I am also thankful that my Church condemns the cruel treatment of homosexuals that unfortunately occurs in the name of “Christianity.” My Church treats me as it does all other people, as one made in God’s image, one who needs to repent and turn to Christ, and struggle for my salvation.

      The author has requested to remain anonymous.

      • Yannaro July 18, 2014 at 6:55 pm - Reply

        Thank you, anonymous, for a reasoned and factual, albeit difficult, expression of what you have gone through. You have undoubtedly taken the correct road. The only other comment I would make about your post is that homosexuality, in and of itself, is not sinful. Acting on one’s sexual urges is sinful, whether those urges be homosexual or, yes, heterosexual outside of marriage in the Orthodox Church. If homosexuality itself were sinful you would not be able to approach the Cup. However, your understanding of the situation, and your abstinence, make the difference. May our Lord continue to give you strength in your journey.

        • John Michaels July 18, 2014 at 9:31 pm - Reply

          To clarify: I am not a homosexual, and I am not the author of the anonymous letter. The identity of the anonymous author is not known to me. I merely copied that letter from the website where I came across it, and I also pasted the link to it in my original post.

          • Yannaro July 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm -

            Yes, I understood that. That is why I addressed my not to “anonymous”.

  73. Solomon July 6, 2014 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Gregory, I generally agree with your premise that the church’s selective enforcement of which sins constitute banishment from receiving the sacrament of communion is problematic. I personally have no problem with your lifestyle or any part of your personal life as it is absolutely none of my business.

    I am amazed to see people criticize your position in droves without considering the logical implications of their attacks. SO many people seem to think that if you are knowingly acting on homosexual impulses then that is reason for banishment from the sacraments. Unfortunately, I do agree that this should be the case according to the letter of canonical law. HOWEVER, by the same logic, everyone who has lied, eaten shellfish, masturbated, had an impulsive sexual thought, taken the lord’s name in vein, etc. should also be banned from receiving communion. I think that list probably covers every single member of the congregation. These people need to get off of their high horses and face the reality that we are all sinners and that their sin is not somehow “less severe” than your sin. It is a flawed premise that makes them look foolish.

    My final question to you (and I do not mean this with any semblance of sarcasm or sardonic wit) is: Why even bother seeking communion in a church in which you know your very way of life is condemned? I am legitimately curious as to why this might be the case. I understand that you grew up in the church, but if it has shown bias toward you (as it clearly has), I would either seek another parish or another denomination altogether.

    Best wishes.

    • Yannaro July 18, 2014 at 6:48 pm - Reply

      What many people fail to realize, and perhaps this is only from not being acquainted with the issue, is that banishment, as it is being called, from the Eucharist is not a permanent thing. Yes, many of the things referred to can, and should, bar some one from the Eucharist, but only if those actions are ongoing. In other words, we all sin, knowingly and unknowingly, but when we stop our known actions that bar us from the Eucharist we put ourselves in a position to once again approach the Cup after prayer, confession, etc. Another misconception is that homosexuality, in and of itself, is sinful. It is not. However, acting on homosexual sexual urges is. Furthermore, there is no difference between homosexual sex and heterosexual sex entered into without benefit of marriage in the Orthodox Church. Either precludes partaking of the Eucharist. It is not “the priest’s” chalice, but the Lord’s chalice. He is not free to do as he pleases and, in fact, if the priest communes someone knowing that the person engages in sex outside of marriage, be it homosexual or heterosexual, he does so at his own personal spiritual peril. This is not a matter of economy but of akribeia, exactness.

  74. Petros Leventis July 17, 2014 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    The priest did you a favor. You live a life of sin. You're unrepentant and live contrary to the teachings of Christ and His Church. Jesus told the alduteress to go and sin no more. You are failing to do this. We all sin, and have been told to abstain from communion for one thing or another. You're no different. Until you repent from your demonic and evil lifestyle, communion will only be to your detriment. We are warned of this by St Paul in the Scriptures. How you think you're right in this situation is beyond me.

  75. George Lucas July 28, 2014 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    I wonder how many of the righteous above have actually condemmed and disassociated themselves from their fellow parishioners, friends and family who have been divorced, masterbated, associated with Jews, or, are they only on board with gays?

    The basics of most religions is love, forgiveness, kindness, respect. compassion. Added to these basics over the ages are the modifications and additions to these principles in the interest of politics within the church and outside the church. Our Bibles have sporned endless division and hate. Millions have died montrous deaths in the name of Christ. Somewhere I think I remember Christ defending a prostitute. Not at all like the stone throwing writers above.

    I too grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church; Sunday School, alter boy, Greek School, Goya, Ahepa. As I grew older I no longer saw the church as a welcoming sanctuary for all those who Christ protected. It grew to divide and hate rather that to welcome and love. I no longer attend church regularly, and when I do, I find more love and welcoming in the Episcopal Church which has grown and changed with the times.

    The Catholic church has been losing millions of parishioners and closing hundreds of churches because of their reluctance to change as the church has done historically. They have allowed eating meat on Fridays as a change of the times, but have not gone far enough. Christ never said not to eat meat on Fridays. Did Chirst ever say anyting about mentrual cycles or masterbuation? Lets get back to the basics of Christ. Can we not love divorcees, masterbators, and Jews? Christ was a Jew. I don’t believe it was He who created the hate of Jews. It was people like us, and people like this priest. Only until the election of the last Pope has the exodus of Catholic from their church diminished. And do you know why? It’s because he has shown more love, compassion and welcoming than his predecesors.And don’t think that they were coming to the Orthodox church either!

    But still in my heart, when asked my relgion, I still reply Greek Orthodox despite the teachings that send me elseware. Perhaps there is more optimism in my heart than in my mind!

    I see Gregory Pappas’ article not as a condemnation or an attack. I see it as a plea for someone who loved the church so much, to love him back in the way Christ would have done.

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