COPTIC ORTHODOX CHURCH PRESS RELEASE FOR RELEASE TO PRINT AND ELECTRONIC MEDIA
August 26, 2003
BOSTON, MA (USA)–During its Annual Clergy convention, the leaders of the Coptic Orthodox Church discussed recent issues related to homosexuality. The convention was presided by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark. In attendance were twelve Bishops from North America, Egypt, Australia, Europe; and 180 priests from America, Canada and Australia. The issues discussed included: the legalization of same-sex marriage, the ordination of a homosexual Bishop in the Episcopalian Church in New Hampshire, and the vote of the Uniting Church in Australia to allow the ordination of any homosexual clergy.
Based on the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, and teachings of the Old and New Testaments, the clergy strongly condemns such activities.
1. Our Lord Jesus Christ spoke against homosexuality when He made reference to the abomination of Sodom and Gomorrah (Lk. 10:12; Gen. 19:24; Jude 7). Similarly, St. Paul warns, “Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves… will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 6:9,10. See also Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:26-32).
2. Same-sex marriage is against the Divine Plan for marriage and its purpose of procreation. “But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female.’ For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife” (Mk. 10:6,7. See also Eph. 5:31; Gen. 1:27; Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:4-6).
3. Therefore, those who are ordained for church ministry must uphold the teachings of the Holy Bible. They should be: “…blameless… of good behavior… able to teach…” (1 Tim. 3:2). Consequently, we disapprove of and condemn the ordination of homosexual clergy, active or not.
These movements not only contradict biblical teachings, but also pose a serious threat to the stability of the family unit, the morals of society, the purity of the Church, and the future of ecumenical unity. While we condemn homosexuality, we invite those who are under this sin to repent out of concern for their eternal live.
We applaud the courageous voices of those who oppose such activities both in and outside those churches, and call on all churches to obey the Biblical teachings without compromise or change.
On Wednesday morning, September 3rd, 2003, the Holy Synod of the Coptic Orthodox Church, headed by H.H. Pope Shenouda III, held a special meeting at St. Anthony Church in the Papal Residence at Anba Rewis in Cairo to discuss the actions of some Western churches trying to legalize homosexuality, same-sex marriage, the ordination of homosexuals in different pastoral degrees, and the decision to ordain a homosexual bishop in the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire, USA The Holy Synod unanimously agreed to strongly condemn these acts that violate the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Old and New Testament Scriptures. This is in compliance to our responsibility to witness to the universal truth of the Gospel.
1- Jesus Christ condemned homosexuality in an explicit way, when He spoke about the devastation of Sodom & Gomorrah (Luke 10:12). See also (Gen. 19:24 – Jud. 7). The Holy Bible warns also saying: “Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor Sodomites, nor thieves… will inherit the Kingdom of God” (1Cor. 6:9,10). See also (Rom. 1:26-32), and what is mentioned in Old Testament: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them” (Lev. 8:22 -Lev. 20:13).
2- Same – sex marriage is against the Divine plan for marriage and its purpose of procreation: “But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and be joined to his wife” (Mk. 10:6,7). See also (Matt. 19:4-6, Eph. 5:31, Gen. 1:27, Gen. 2:24).
3- Those who are ordained for Church ministry must uphold the teachings of the Holy Bible. “The bishop must be blameless… of good behavior.. able to teach” (1Tim. 3:2).
Consequently, we disapprove and condemn strongly the same – sex marriage generally, and the ordination of homosexuals, which is more erroneous, and more dangerous.
The Holy Synod declares:
1- That these movements contradict the teachings of the Holy Bible, and threaten the stability of natural marriage, the nature of forming a family, the morals of the society, the purity of the Church, the future of the efforts towards Christian unity, and the Ecumenical movements.
2- Those who rely on the chains of human rights to encourage homosexuality, neglect the fact that it is not the right of any person to spoil himself or the other. Real freedom does not ruin the human nature, nor contradict with the Divine Commandments, morals, and general ethics.
3- We applaud the courageous voices, in and outside those Churches, which oppose Homosexuality, Same – Sex Marriage, ordination of Homosexuals in pastoral orders.
We call these Churches to obey the Biblical Teachings without compromise or change. The members of these Churches has no right to vote on the Biblical Divine Commandments.
4- This abnormal conduct is a stumbling block for other people, bad example and fame, and dangerous for the future of these Churches themselves leading to divisions and disintegration.
5- While we condemn homosexuality, we invite those who are under this sin to repent out of concern for their eternal life.
Our Holy Synod decided to publish this statement on all possible Media inside and outside Egypt, and to send it to all Ecumenical Councils, such as the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, The Councils of America, Canada, Europe, Australia, and Africa.