ON THE ISTANBUL CONVENTION

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THE REPRESENTATION OFFICE OF THE CHURCH OF GREECE TO THE E.U. GAVE ITS FEEDBACK ON THE ISTANBUL CONVENTION DURING THE LAST MEETING OF THE C.R.O.C.E.U. [COMMITTEE OF THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHES TO THE E.U.] (9.4.18) AS FOLLOWS:

"We welcome the Istanbul Convention and its intention to create a Europe free of violence against women and of domestic violence. More specifically we welcome the purpose of this Convention to protect women against all forms of violence, to prevent, prosecute and eliminate violence against women and domestic violence (Article 1) and to offer a comprehensive response to violence against women (Article 7.1). Even though this Convention focuses on women’s rights and their protection, the rights of all persons placed in situations of vulnerability or victimhood are no less at its centre (Article 12.3). We recognize that religion, tradition or so-called “honour” cannot be an alibi, in Europe or elsewhere, for abuse against women (Article 4), nor can they serve to justify physical violence, sexual violence, forced marriages, female genital mutilation or forced sterilization (Article 42). We also welcome the pedagogical role of this Convention to eradicate prejudices based on the idea of the inferiority of women or on stereotyped roles for women and men (Article 12.1) by encouraging all members of society, especially men and boys, to contribute actively to preventing all forms of violence covered by the scope of this Convention (Article 12.4).

As Christians we are sceptical concerning this Convention’s intention to legitimate homosexual relationships in the domestic environment (Article 3b) and we believe that promoting programs and activities for the empowerment of women (Article 12.6) without adopting an holistic approach for the family as a complex social body will have as a consequence a new cycle of abuses, since society is conceived as an arena for competition between the genders. We are also against the gender definition adopted by this Convention and according to which gender is not given by God, but it is a simple byproduct of some social processes (Article 3c).

As Christians we condemn every manifestation of violence, to whomever it is addressed, whether heterosexual or homosexual. We believe it is preferable that all people be protected from violence in their domestic environment rather than women not be protected at all.

As Christians we cannot deny the protection of women and every vulnerable person on the pretext that homosexual relations are ethically unacceptable, since this would be a pitiful act of hypocrisy.

As Christians, we want to work in Europe for a family whose members enjoy respect unequivocally –both men and women alike. We believe that without free manifestation of all talents bestowed on the human personality, there cannot flourish a healthy situation within the family. As for the notion of freedom, we believe that it cannot be understood independently from freedom in Christ, that is the remission of sins and the love that our Saviour has given us as an inexhaustible source of inspiration and encouragement to let love irrigate our actions and all our being.

As Christians we support this international convention that aims to protect women against violence. At the same time we are determined to work for a new European Convention that will protect the family as a social body, accordingly to the teaching of St. Paul, in order to manifest its holiness. Many organizations have coordinated their efforts for more than ten years in order to create this Convention. What are we, as Orthodox Christians, doing, in coordination with other Christian Confessions, in order to make manifest the holiness of the family and its importance for the European cultural identity?

For the Representation Office of the Church of Greece,

Rev. Dr. Georgios Lekkas, 9.4.18 (Brussels)"

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