The ARA Bishop’s brother, Tito, said his brother hadn’t been kidnapped, but had just come out of a conversion ceremony. (REUTERS)

A Greek Orthodox bishop who turned priest in Lyon was killed by his lover’s husband, prosecutors said Tuesday, in a deeply personal story marking a key step in the debate on intellectual freedom in the EU.

The Bishop’s brother Tito said his brother hadn’t been kidnapped, but had just come out of a conversion ceremony, handed over by the wife of Jesus’ disciple in Lebanon, as punishment for her fidelity to her husband.

The 45-year-old named the wife as the ‘author’ of a film called “Why the World is Gay”.

“As a result, my brother was tortured by the husband,” Tito told The Local, describing the atmosphere as ‘barbaric’.

Some conservatives within the Greek Orthodox Church are opposed to its promotion of “transsexualism”, saying it violates religious principles, but the denomination approved a study on whether to encourage same-sex ‘discovery’.

Divided opinion

The French city of Lyon’s Archbishop Zerlios Tsakoliris and the Greek Orthodox Bishop’s brother Apostolos Hatzidakis both warned on Tuesday against embracing consensual sex.

The brother and the bishop spoke ahead of a summit by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, in which dozens of Latin American nations have pledged to protect gays and lesbians in their countries.

It follows the civil marriage of a same-sex couple in Greece last month, and is likely to deepen divisions in Greece ahead of national elections in May, when the National Front leads the polls.

‘Butcher of Reykjavik’

In Greece, a conservative commentator said that the Greek orthodox church’s denial of homosexuality was encouraging.

Yannis Koscyk, a lecturer on sexuality and culture at Athens university’s Alpriani Institute, said the fact that the General Congregation of the Greek Orthodox Church approved the film was an “insult”.

“The fact that the Greek Orthodox Church gives its blessing to the same-sex marriage shows that the church is not anti-gay but simply too busy socialising with same-sex relationships,” he said.

The Greek Orthodox Church was founded by the Orthodox branch of Judaism. It describes its own religious orthodoxy as “sincerely Orthodox”, but last month took the rare step of criticising a tabooed promotion of homosexuality in the church.

While some 20 per cent of Greek Orthodox in Paris have come out as gay, most still live with “discriminatory practices and betrayals”, a human rights group, Paris Atheist Rights Group, says.

At the same time, the Greek Orthodox Church has the largest number of inter-religious groups, six times that of Roman Catholic or Protestant churches.

No ‘prophecy’

Two years ago the Greek Orthodox Church set up a committee on gender equality to advise diocesan bishops and Church superiors.

There has been no official word on whether the divorce of Church of France patriarch Hernan Urbina de Vita caused his death, or whether he ever made the confession that led him to marry a woman.

In May, the Dauphiné Patriarchate in Lyon commissioned a grand rabbi to release the “New Christ” as part of its design for a 40-metre Christ’s Big Mouth, which straddles the shores of Lake Sangomolo.

“His view of eternity is ‘life form’ through death,” the rabbi, Vadim Devyakos, told media.

However, some Greek Orthodox Coptic Christians chose to burn down a church where Orthodox Bishop Isaac Erice believed the first Greek Orthodox Saint Thomas was one of the disciples of Jesus.