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Moscow priest urges church for gay community - paper

MOSCOW, August 23 (RIA Novosti) - A member of Moscow's reformist clergy has said he plans to open a church for the gay community in the capital and has secured the support of churches in Europe and the U.S., a Russian paper said Thursday.

Father Alexei, who quit the Russian Christian Orthodox Church for a church group within the Renovated Church Federation, said the idea came to him following a gay parade in the capital in May, when its members were attacked by nationalists shouting "death to homosexuals," the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily said.

"A gay man came to me for advice. He told me his story. What was I to do? To order the cursed catamite out? I could not do it. I talked to him, others followed soon. An Orthodox priest listening to a gay man's story is uncommon. But all people have the right to pursue a spiritual life," the priest told the paper.

"The phrase that 'the Church is not an institution, but an organ of true love" appeals to me very much," Father Alexei said. "I have come to understand that God is Love."

He told the paper that German Pentecostals and Renovated Church groups in Europe and the United States had promised to support the initiative.

Christian churches in Europe and the U.S. have been discussing the possibility of ordaining gays and lesbians recently.

The issue has caused a rift in the Episcopal Church, the U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, when some U.S. parishes broke away from their local diocese after an openly gay bishop was ordained in New Hampshire.

In the Christian tradition, homosexuality is considered incompatible with biblical teachings.

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