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Russian Orthodox Church Ends Ties With Protestants Over Gay Marriage

  • RFE/RL

The Russian Orthodox Church says it is severing ties with the main protestant churches of France and Scotland over the issue of same-sex unions.

The Moscow Patriarchate said on June 3 that "formal contacts" with the two institutions were pointless after France's United Protestant Church last month voted to allow pastors to bless same-sex marriages and the Church of Scotland approved ordaining clergy in same-sex civil unions.

"We regretfully acknowledge, that today we have a new divide in the Christian world, not only regarding theological subjects, but regarding moral issues as well," the patriarchate said in a statement.

The Moscow Patriarchate noted that it had previously suspended ties with the U.S. Episcopal Church in 2003 after it consecrated an openly gay bishop, and with Sweden's Lutheran Church after it sanctioned ceremonies for civil unions in 2005.

The Russian Orthodox Church has been a leading voice of support for what Kremlin critics call the Russian government's systematic crackdown on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people's rights in recent years.

With reporting by AP and Reuters
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