Pope joins Russian church head in condemning gay marriages and families

Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis

Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis

Following a historic meeting, Pope Francis and the head of the Russian Orthodox Church have lashed out at same-sex unions.

On Friday, Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia issued a weighty joint statement on various issues they saw fit to pronounce one.

The two men met in Havana, the first meeting between a pope and a Russian Orthodox patriarch since Christianity split almost a thousand years ago into western and eastern branches.

Among the subjects they agreed upon was attacking and delegitimising marriages, unions and families of gay and lesbian people.

“The family is the natural centre of human life and society,” said the clerics. “We are concerned about the crisis in the family in many countries.”

They explained that, “The family is based on marriage, an act of freely given and faithful love between a man and a woman.”

The religious leaders went on to “regret that other forms of cohabitation have been placed on the same level as this union” and that “paternity and maternity as the distinct vocation of man and woman in marriage is being banished from the public conscience.”

While the Pope and the Catholic Church have long opposed legalising same-sex relationships, the new-found camaraderie with the even more conservative Russian Orthodox Church indicates that the pope has no intention of softening his stance on the matter.

Patriarch Kirill is a vocal supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been accused of human rights abuses, including eroding the right to freedom of speech and of association, and of targeting the LGBT community.

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