“Archbishop Lazar Puhalo believes in compassion,” begins the article in the Sun Journal of Lewiston, Maine. Reporter Lindsay Tice caught up with the archbishop at a talk he gave yesterday to students at University of Southern Maine’s Lewiston-Auburn College. (HT: OBL News)
Dressed in black robes and sporting a long white and gray beard, Puhalo spoke to students over a potluck lunch held in the college’s second-floor lounge. Encouraged by questions, he jumped from topic to topic, covering in two-and-a-half hours: same-sex marriage, universal health care, women’s rights, religious fundamentalism, politics, an individual’s impact on society, ecology, suffering, compassion, fear, hatred, faith, hope and love.
“There is no hand of an angry God. There is no angry God,” he said, adding, “If God’s so full of hate, what’s he got to teach us?”
Puhalo lambasted what he sees as Christian hypocrisy and bigotry, saying too many religious people moralize and judge while too few help and support. He also spoke against politicians’ use of religion and fear to gain supporters, particularly when it comes to universal health care and same-sex marriage — both of which he supports and are already available in his home country of Canada.
Universal health care is an example of basic compassion for others, Puhalo said. And he believes that same-sex marriage is an issue of democratic rights for citizens, not an issue for religious groups.
“We (the Christian church) don’t have a copyright on the word marriage,” he said.
The newspaper identified Archbishop Puhalo as “the head of the North American Orthodox Christian Church and world-renowned philosopher and advocate of human rights, women’s rights, and the environment … ”
But officially, as described by OrthodoxWiki, he is the Most Reverend Lazar (Puhalo) of Ottawa, a retired hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America, and the founding abbot of the Monastery of All Saints of North America, Canada.
OrthodoxWiki notes that the much traveled cleric “is known for his prolific (and, at times, controversial) theological writings, particularly regarding the aerial toll houses.”