Claims parishioners were ‘screamed at’ by anti-same-sex marriage priest who demanded his flock all vote no
THE marriage debate is getting increasingly ugly with claims a priest yelled at yes voters and said gays should be shot.
A MELBOURNE priest has come under fire for demanding his flock vote no in the upcoming same-sex marriage survey and for allegedly saying gay people should be shot.
Parishioner Liz Tasiopoulos claimed the comments were made by the priest at a service she attended at a Greek Orthodox Church in south eastern Melbourne on Father’s Day.
She told news.com.au the language used was especially hurtful as it came during a service which included a memorial for a woman who had committed suicide because she had struggled with her own sexuality.
“The priest was screaming at us [that same-sex marriage] was blasphemy. The comments were so hurtful I couldn’t stop crying,” Ms Tasiopoulos said.
It is the second time in less than a month that a Greek Orthodox priest has been accused of advocating gay people should be shot. In the earlier incident, the priest apologised but said he couldn’t remember the comments.
Following the latest allegations, news.com.au has contacted the church in question multiple times and the Greek Orthodox Church’s Archdiocese of Victoria and Tasmania but has not received a response.
Some parishioners have taken to social media to defend the priest, claiming that in Greek he said “my mouth is my gun”, however no one has disputed the priest became agitated when some people challenged him on his anti-same-sex marriage views. But Ms Tasiopoulos has told news.com.au she stands by her claims.
She said she attended a service at the church in Clayton on Father’s Day. The service came 40 days after the death of her friend. The passing of 40 days following the death of a loved one is observed in Orthodox culture.
Rather than reflecting on her friend’s life, however, Ms Tasiopoulos said the priest quickly used the service to attack same-sex marriage.
“He pointed out everyone was to vote no,” she wrote on the Greek Mums and Bubs Facebook page, a post which has since been reportedly been removed.
“Then one lady stood up and said, ‘I’ll vote yes.’ The priest (said), ‘shame on you’. She walked out, and then we all did as the girl we were there for was gay,” she wrote.
“As we walked, the priest said that all gays should be shot. He was yelling at us all standing in the rain.
“I’m so disgusted by all of this that I will never return [to] church again.”
Ms Tasiopoulos said some gay people also walked out of the church.
“A young man was in tears. I tried to console him as he had only just had the courage to come out.
“I told him God loves you, we love you, ignore him, while the priest was screaming at us that it’s blasphemy.
“I can’t fathom this much hate on Father’s Day as (the deceased woman’s) father was having to listen 40 days after he laid his only daughter to rest.”
The incident comes just a few weeks after earlier claims that another Melbourne Orthodox priest had made comments in church about shooting gay people.
Johnno George slammed Red Hill Greek Orthodox Church, on the Mornington Peninsula, in a post online.
“I went with an open heart to celebrate the Virgin Mary — instead I got a hate speech about anti gay marriage and how he would shoot dead anybody who was gay and wanted to be married with a gun he keeps in the back.”
“My church completely let me down today,” he wrote.
“You may have your own view of gay marriage but to talk about shooting people dead because of their sexual orientation is absolutely disgusting.
“It was made very clear to me I was not welcome in the house of God.”
Father Eleftherios Tatsis, of Red Hill church, responded to SBS Greek News about the comments. He apologised but claimed he did not remember saying the words.
“If I lost my temper and said something I shouldn’t have, I apologise, I’m only human,” he was quoted as saying in Melbourne Greek community newspaper Neos Cosmos.
However the article claimed Father Tatsis also said gay people were “pitiful” during the interview and compared them to spoiled fruit.
“My own granddaughter tells me ‘they are people too’ and yes they are, and I love them,” Neos Cosmos reported.
“But say you have a hamper full of oranges and one of those is rotten, all the oranges are going to rot”.
The same-sex marriage postal survey is due to be sent out to eligible voters on September 12.
Same-sex marriage advocates argue it is unconstitutional to allocate $122 million of government funds to the postal vote when it could be decided in parliament.