Monday, August 26, 2013

Moscow Patriarchate Reacts to San Francisco Gay Protest

(Gay protesters display rainbow flags and posters at St Nicholas' church in the Castro district on August 25.)

My activist colleague Melanie Nathan, who operates the O-blog-dee-o-blog-da site, informed me this afternoon that a number of Russian Orthodox entities have united to condemn the protest yesterday organized by and Gays Without Borders.

They went to great lengths, including contacting the local church's superiors in Moscow, other Orthodox churches and the Russian Consulate in San Francisco. Claiming concern for the Moscow Patriarchate's outpost in the Castro district, one of the gayest neighborhoods in the world, several Russian religious and political leaders traveled to San Francisco.

All because a few dozen peaceful activists declared our intention to stage a simple picket and exercise our freedom to assemble and freedom of speech rights on a public sidewalk.

One thing these Russians omit is our efforts via email and voice mail to have a conversation with them. None of our messages received a reply.

I am fascinated at how these Orthodox leaders use the politically correct term LGBT and not the more generic word gay. Maybe once they calm down they will consider responding to our requests for dialogue, or chat with other LGBT advocates and the gay and straight press.

Excerpts from the statement at the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia web site:

Clergymen and laity of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia responded to an LGBT protest with joint prayers.

On Sunday, August 25, 2013, a protest was held before St Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in San Francisco, CA, by local LGBT members against legislation passed in Russia last June banning the propagandizing of homosexuality to children. The day before, blogs on the internet called for supporters of the LGBT community to gather at San Francisco’s Patriarchal cathedral during Divine Liturgy with anti-Orthodox and anti-Russian placards [...]

Representative of the International Russian People’s Council to the United Nations, and Hegumen Nikodim (Balyasnikov), both of St Nicholas Patriarchal Cathedral in New York City, traveled to San Francisco to support the local parishioners.

On August 25, Archbishop Justinian spoke via telephone to His Eminence Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America of ROCOR [...] Priest Leonid Kazakov, Rector of St Nicholas Cathedral, gave advance notice to the planned action to the local police and to Mr Sergei Petrov, Consul General of the Russian Federation in San Francisco.

On the morning of August 25, Archbishop Kyrill and His Grace Bishop Theodosius of Seattle, Vicar Bishop of the Western American Diocese, arrived for the beginning of Divine Liturgy [at] the Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow” in San Francisco.

Divine Liturgy was celebrated by Fr Leonid and Hegumen Nikodim. Praying at the service were parishioners of St Nicholas and laity of ROCOR [...]

By Divine mercy, neither the cathedral nor any parishioners suffered any violence from the protesters. Member of the police secured the protest area and did not permit the breaking of any laws.

Huh? We said it was going to be peaceful protest and we kept our word. Also, the police stayed a block away during our picket so I'm not sure what they're referring to about securing the area and preventing law-breaking. 

Our little action sure generated a big response within the Russian Orthodox community and that is a good thing.

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