A senior Russian church leader has condemned social acceptance of homosexuality, declaring that it is the church’s “duty” to correct public opinion.

In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegal, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who is head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, said that not viewing homosexuality as a sin will lead to a variety of other sexual perversions.

“Morality is either absolute or it does not exist. If you excuse homosexuality, why not excuse paedophilia?” he said.

When the interviewer pointed out that there was a “great difference” between homosexuality and paedophilia, as the latter violated the “personal freedom” of children, Bishop Kirill said that people in the future would say that “12-year-old girls were considered children before, but now they develop much faster.

“Twenty years ago nobody could imagine that Germany would legalise homosexual marriages,” he continued.

“However, they get used to it by now. It is a matter of principle. There is one moral nature.

“Gay parade is an intrusive display of depravity. Thus we can successfully promote any other sin, as is done on TV.

“It vitiates public morality. The task of the Church is to say that sin is sin. Otherwise, the Church is not needed.”

In March 2007, Bishop Kirill objected to Moscow hosting a gay pride parade.

He said: “[It] is directed against the majority of Russian society.

“We believe that the law should not interfere in citizens’ private lives.

“You can sin if you want to, but you will answer to God.

“However, if you are trying to propagate your sin by seducing and degrading people, society must oppose it.”

Since 1989 Bishop Kirill has been active in the activities of the Russian Orthodox Church, strongly opposing the encroachment of Roman Catholicism into Russian.

In a statement issues in August 2000, he explained that globalisation would inevitably lead to the kingdom of the anti-Christ and that it was the Russian Orthodox Church’s role to defend Russian nationality and religious identity.