KIEV, Ukraine, May 31, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Patriarch of the Ukrainian Catholic Church rebuffed the notion that he is a theological liberal on the subject of homosexuality – and then some – saying that the “sin of homosexuality is comparable to that of murder.”

Video footage of an exchange between Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk and a Ukrainian journalist was released more than one year ago, but an English transcript has recently been funished to LifeSiteNews.com.

“Some call you the most liberal head of the Ukrainian Church and that your views on homosexuality are very tolerant,” the journalist asked, in Russian. “Do you believe they should, at minimum, have the right to civil unions and, at maximum, to marriages in the Ukrainian Church?”

The Patriarch declined to classify his views as liberal or conservative but responded, in Ukrainian, “In accordance with the teaching of the Church, homosexual behavior is a grave sin, which calls to Heaven for vengeance.”

The designation of grave sins includes “willful murder.”

“In terms of gravity, the sin of homosexuality is comparable to that of murder,” he said. “Therefore, if we are talking today about the right to have a homosexual 'relationship,' then we must also talk about the right to murder.”

The young patriarch, who did not take a grim tone throughout the exchange, carefully distinguished between loving the sinner and hating the sin.

“I don't want to judge those persons. I am not against any person,” he said.

He concluded that homosexuals deserve support and loving pastoral care, because “the person who is living this type of life, who sins, is wounding and destroying himself. And therefore, the Church is against the sin yet protects the person and his dignity.”

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Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk was elevated to Patriarch of the Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church on May 25, 2011, and confirmed by Pope Benedict XVI. At 40, he was the fourth youngest bishop in the Roman Catholic communion. 

The Patriarch, whose concentration has been Moral Theology, authored the Moral section of the most recent catechism for the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church.

With 4.2 million members worldwide, the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church is the largest sui juris Church in communion with the Pope of Rome.

Complete English transcript:

Journalist:  Some call you the most liberal head of the Ukrainian Church and that your views on homosexuality are very tolerant.  The primate of the Anglican church is not at all against homosexuals, so what is your view of people with this orientation - do you believe they should at minimum have the right to civil unions and at maximum to marriages in the Ukrainian Church?

Patriarch Sviatoslav:  To my mind, the author of this question does not fully know my views on this matter and has not read my previous responses on this subject. I will attempt to answer this question expressing my views on this matter, then let the author of this question judge for himself whether I am a liberal or a conservative. 

In accordance with the teaching of the Church, homosexual behavior is a grave sin, which calls to heaven for vengeance.  This is a group of very grave sins for which the Lord God Himself is the One Who repays. To these sins, which call out to God for vengeance, belongs also, for example, willful murder.  In terms of gravity, the sin of homosexuality is comparable to that of murder. Therefore, if we are talking today about the right to have a homosexual "relationship," then we must also talk about the right to murder. Therefore, we cannot talk about the right to sin, for that is a view, which is self-contradictory.

Aside from that, Sacred Scripture succinctly and clearly condemns this type of behavior. For example, if the author of this question would read the first chapter of St. Paul's letter to the Romans (he would see that) the Apostle Paul clearly states that people who live in this way dishonor their bodies and that this is a manifestation of their spiritual blindness.

I don't want to judge those persons; I am not against any person. But, I am against sin, just as the Church is against the sin, but is for the person, because the person who is living this type of life, who sins, is wounding and destroying himself. 

And, therefore, the Church is against the sin yet protects the person and his dignity.