The Russian Orthodox Church destroyed a chapel after local churchmen declared it defiled because it hosted a “marriage” ceremony for two men.

The Rev. Vladimir Enert was defrocked for conducting the service for Denis Gogolyev and Mikhail Morozev at the Chapel of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, 280 miles east of Moscow, the London Telegraph reported.

The men said they paid Enert a $500 bribe to ignore the church’s ban on same-sex marriages.

The Telegraph said a spokesman for the Orthodox Church indicated the chapel had to be demolished because it was desecrated. Some local officials said it was going to be leveled anyway to make way for a larger church, but the new facility is not scheduled to open until 2005.

A spokesman for the Nizhny Novgorod Patriarchate told the London paper: “The chapel was dismantled because it is no longer needed.”

But, he admitted, according to the Telegraph, the “marriage” may have “sped up the process.”

During the Sept. 1 ceremony, Enert asked the men which one would play the role of the woman.

Gogolyev reportedly replied: “It’s the same to us, father, we’re both just spouses.”

The ceremony sparked outrage across the nation, even among people not associated with the church.

Moscow Patriarchate spokesman Viktor Malukhin stated: “Nothing of this kind has happened during the 1,000-year history of the Russian Church.

“According to Christian teachings,” he said, “marriage is a free union of a man and a woman blessed by God, while homosexuality is a sign of human nature obscured by sin.”


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