On 11 September 2022 in front of the Cathedral church of Saint Sava in Belgrade, His Holiness Serbian Patriarch kyr Porfirije served a moleben for the sanctity of marriage and family, harmony and peace among our nation, in the prayerful presence of several tens of thousands of the faithful.
The central streets and the Plateau of Saint Sava were jammed with endless columns of pious people, not only residents of the Serbian capital, but also the faithful who came from all over Serbia to pray together with their Patriarch and homeland Hierarchs for the preservation of the endangered sanctity of marriage and family.
The moleben was attended by Their Graces Bishops: Vasilije of Srem, Longin of New Gračanica–Midwestern America, Irinej of Bačka, Jovan of Šumadija, Fotije of Zvornik-Tuzla, Teodosije of Raška–Prizren, David of Kruševac, Ilarion of Timok, Arsenije of Niš, Isihije of Valjevo, Stefan of Remesiana, Jerotej of Toplica – elected Bishop of Šabac, Justin of Hvosno – elected Bishop of Western Europe, Damaskin of Mohač, Sava of Marča, retired Georgije of Canada, and elected Bishop Dositej of Lipljan.
At the end of the moleben, His Holiness the Patriarch kyr Porfirije held a sermon to the faithful people.
Patriarch Porfirije: The word of God reveals to us already in the opening pages of the Holy Scriptures that God created man as two sexes, as male and female, and that He blessed marriage and the family as a union of love between a man and a woman with their children.
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Brethren Hierarchs, brethren priests, Hieromonks and nuns, brothers and sisters, children of Saint Sava and children of Saint Prince Lazar, children of our great, glorious fathers and forefathers, ascetics, martyrs and witnesses of the Orthodox faith,
Welcome to the bosom of the church of Saint Sava. We are all welcome and let it be for the sake of good that we have gathered tonight. One thought and one desire gathered us tonight in this number in front of the church of Saint Sava, in front of the cathedral church of the entire Serbian Orthodox people wherever they may be. That desire, that thought is simple: to be what we are, to be what our ancestors were – that our children may also be themselves, that we may be what we actually are from the very moment we became aware of our ourselves, to act in accordance with the will of God, with what God wants from us, not what people are trying to get from us. Brothers and sisters, we have gathered here to pray to God for the sanctity of marriage, for harmony and unity.
In the life of us Orthodox Christians, everything should begin and be permeated with prayer, everything should be ended in prayer; everything should also be grounded in prayer, because we, Orthodox Christians, recognize immeasurable power and strength in prayer. Prayer is at the same time the space of God’s presence among us, in us and in our lives. Yesterday, brothers and sisters, I served the Liturgy in Jasenovac, and this morning in Lika, in Medak, where many innocent people lost their lives in 1993. A few days before that I was in Sentandreja, Hungary, and before that in Herceg Novi. In the last two or three months, I visited and served in many Dioceses of our Church, from Kosovo through Republika Srpska and throughout Serbia. I served and gathered with our people, prayed to God together with them… Wherever we live, regardless of national and political borders, we are all connected by the same Orthodox faith. We are all connected by the same Serbian Orthodox Church. And precisely because of this we are connected by the same system of values, which actually makes us as one. Wherever we might have lived, the Orthodox faith has shaped us throughout the centuries; from the times of Saint Sava, through the Kosovo Covenant, Saint Prince Lazar of Kosovo, all the way until our days. We have been shaped by the Gospel of Christ, the word and commandments of God, we have been shaped by Christ’s teachings. With the Gospel of Christ, we have been building and we have built our way of life and our system of values. On the basis of that system of values, we organize our private, family, social, and cultural life. Our public ethic was formed in accordance with that system of values. With it we build relationships between ourselves, but also between ourselves and the others and the differing ones, in a word, we build and nurture what we are, our identity. It is an Orthodox, Christian identity and an evangelical system of values. Love for God and love for neighbor are at the center of that system of values, but not sentimental, superficial love, but love that in the essence is the responsibility towards the sacredness of life and responsibility towards salvation. We are not just biological beings called into this world to have our beginning and then, after making everything that preceded it completely senseless, to disappear from it. We were created for eternity, and our Church leads us to that eternity, the Gospel of Christ and the Gospel system of values guide us.
Brothers and sisters, you know this better than I do, we do not impose our way of life on anyone, but we also do not want anyone, from any part of the world, to come and impose their values, their world views, their way of life on us. Brothers and sisters, we do not want – I repeat, because we do not impose our way of life on anybody – anyone, even if he may think he is better than us, to impose his rules, his world view and his way of life on us. We do not want anyone to tell us what we should be. The measure and criterion for us is the word of Christ, the word of God. Christ gives us directions, tells us what is good and what is not, what is black and what is white, what is established by God as natural and what is unnatural or, as Saint Maximus the Confessor says – against the nature. The word of God reveals to us already in the opening pages of the Holy Scriptures that God created man as two sexes, as male and female, and that he blessed marriage and the family as a union of love between a man and a woman together with their children. Society and civilization as we know them, not only here but also in Europe, were built on such a God-blessed marriage and such a family. The very word family (porodica in Serbian), according to its meaning in the Serbian language, tells us that a man and a woman, moved by love and desire to be one, enter into a communion in order to have children, a family. Family is one of the fruits of the marriage between a man and a woman. But, when there is no childbirth in marriage, when there are no children, when such is the will of God, marriage in no case loses its fullness and meaning, because the most important goal remains – that two become one through love.
So what is it? It is our faith. Through it and through the trust in the word of Christ we discern who is male and who is female. Through it, we also know what marriage is. For us Orthodox Christians it goes without saying. There is no need for any explanations, because Christ’s word is simple and addressed to every person. Today, however, we are faced with waves, with a tsunami, with the invasion of many new value systems that are imposed violently, aggressively or with soft power and invisible works under the radar, with the aim of undermining all of the existing natural or civilizational orders, in order to establish a new paradigm, new rules. In this vortex, the intention is to destroy the identity foundations and pillars of individuals and communities, to make everything relative and fragile. It is as if they want to tell us that everything we have known and lived with until now is no longer valid and that we have actually been living wrongly for thousands of years, that we were in delusion. The epilogue of these ideologies of the post-humanist society is not only that we lose the idea of who is male and who is female, what is marriage, but that in the end – I will say a strong word and be called out on it, I do not care about name-callings, but I do care together with you about what God will say – we cannot even say with certainty what a man is. And there are already such ideas and such voices.
Naturally, it would sound selfish and proud to say that we are a hindrance to them because we are supposedly better than them or because we have a different position and point of view, but actually our all-encompassing and vigorous determination for the truth of the Gospel of Christ, including the truth about male and female and marriage, distorts their detours. That and such a spirit is bothered by Christ and His Gospel. We read the Gospel and we know that even though the Lord performed good deed while He was in the Gadarene region, they told him: Go away from us, you are bothering us, spoiling our business, spoiling our idea that comfort, success and fame are the most important things in the world. Christ bothers them because He clearly says: “If I had not come, they would have no sin”, i.e. if Christ had not come, they would not know what is right and what is wrong. But since Christ came and said in the Gospel what is the truth and what is a lie, the obstacle to that spirit is He Himself and His Church, that is, the values that spring from His truth. This is the reason why the spirit of these new ideologies wants to at least dilute and relativize those values, if not completely remove them. Of course, he tries from the inside, from within the Church, to relativize what the Lord said. They say: “Hasn’t God given freedom to man?” Yes He did. But the apostle Paul said: “All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful.” Therefore, not every freedom is salvific and meaningful. Hence, for us Orthodox Christians, the LGBTQ+ ideology is unacceptable.
However, I want to underline straightway that we are at the same time against any kind of violence, and that we are against contempt, hatred, persecution and stigmatization of those who share those ideas, especially if the violence is committed in the name of the Church and in the name of Christ. Moreover, I know that there are many people from that very population who are better than me, and who carry their cross and struggle with their temptations and who are against any kinds parading. I believe that you too have such experiences. We do not judge them, we do not accuse them and we do not condemn them. God is the judge of all, including us gathered here. As Christians, we also pray for them, because they are also our neighbors. We pray that they also come to knowing the truth of Christ, His law, His commandments. We do not interfere in how someone organizes his life. This is not about a personal relationship with anyone in particular. It is about the fact that we cannot accept anyone’s weaknesses, personal preferences and choices that are not in accordance with the order established by God, and which are propagated and imposed as a new social norm and rule. We cannot accept that the media, education, culture, and political institutions are turned into means of constant and permanent psychological and moral pressure in the service of violent social engineering. We cannot allow that ideology to change the model of society according to which our people have been living ever since they became aware of themselves.
We are already faced with the fruits of the silent engineering of that LGBT ideology. So that no one may say that we are exaggerating, that we are suspicious, that I am exaggerating: these days we found out that lessons that propagate gender ideology have been inserted into the textbooks for primary and secondary schools in our country behind-the-scenes, out of the public eye. Who did it? Has anyone asked any of you whose children go to school about this? Do you agree? If nobody asked you, and I know no one did, then we ask the competent authorities to immediately withdraw from use all textbooks, manuals and means for teaching in high schools, primary schools and preschools that contain such lessons.
Just imagine the absurdity these trends lead to. While, on the one hand, we have laws that give mothers the absolute right to decide whether their child will come to this world, whether it will be born or not – I have been for decades confessing our Serbian people in the monastery of Kovilj and I am well acquainted with the pain of everyone who went through it, I prayed together with those who went through it and am sure that God counted that pain as a contribution on the path of the transformation and salvation – and on the other hand, in countries where these trends have become a reality and a norm, normality, they have laws that forbid those parents if they have a male child to treat him as a male, address him as a male, to say to their son: That’s my boy; or if they have a girl they are not in a position, because they are not allowed by the law to raise their girl to be a future woman and a future mother. And that continues up until a certain year of age. And also does a boy, if he was born as a boy, and does a girl, if she was born as a girl, really want to be that… When they grow up to a certain year of age they should decide for themselves, according to their affinity, what they are, and before that, until the age of fourteen, they underwent brainwashing through various programs in the schools they have been going in. These are not the values according to which we live! These are not the values we want to live with!
Therefore, it is comprehensible, brothers and sisters, that we are against the so-called Europride, that we are against parading through the streets of the City of the Theotokos, the capital city of Belgrade. We have already seen it in many European capitals and we have no need to watch anymore how such manifestations, with their obscene and exhibitionist appearance and their visual and aesthetic aggression, insult, deride and mock everything that is considered the most sacred and virtuous in our nation, but in other nations as well. We are against Europride as such, because it is obvious that they are not only interested in walking and partying, because their goal is to reshape our society, our values, our way of life, without us asking for it ourselves.
Brothers and sisters, some say, I am sure without deep thought, that this position of ours is a crusade. We know well what the Crusades were. Orthodox nations know that, they also know who waged them and why. We were objects of the Crusades, but we overcame that ordeal and that adversity with the faith and the Gospel. Are we waging crusades if we sit in our home? We did not go to another country, to another people, to impose our way of life and our values on them, not even peacefully, let alone by force. We did not do it neither by faith nor by any other idea, and on the other side we have been countless times in history subjected to various attempts to renounce ourselves, to be who we are not, to become something else. Thank God, here we are with our heads on our shoulders, alive and sound, and we are still what we were before. So who is leading the crusade? Others came to our house and by propagating their ideas to us they impose them on us and steal from us. They want to tell us what we should be. We are the objects in this story and we are the ones exposed to violence. They are raping our minds! They are raping our soul! They would like to, but they will not succeed!
Brothers and sisters, I could stay with you until the morning, and more than anything, I would like if we had an all-night vigil, all-night prayer, similar to praxis of the monasteries throughout Mount Athos and Serbia, to pray for the whole world and for all the people, to pray to God that He may give us peace, that He may give us a healthy family, that He may give us harmony and unity, because we are coming through many trials and problems – that is why we need to be one in faith and one in making what is good – to pray for our brothers who have fallen due to the ideology that we mentioned, so I will not mention it anymore. To pray for each of our falls, for each of our sins, that God may grant us all to come to the knowledge of the truth, to get ourselves acquainted with Him, the One God in the Trinity Whom we glorify – the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen!