The Rev. George Passias, 67, was relieved of his priestly duties after a unanimous vote on Nov. 28 by the Greek Orthodox Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate during its monthly meeting in Istanbul, church officials said. He had been suspended from St. Spyridon Church in September.
In addition, the entire executive board of St. Spyridon was ordered to step down Friday following the fallout over Passias’ pastry love affair with his goddaughter, Ethel Bouzalas, 45, who was principal of the St. Spyridon Parochial School.
Bishop Andonios Paropoulos, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox church in the United States, said the board was asked to step down “not because of any indication of any unethical or illegal actions on their part, but rather as part of an effort to appoint a new board, which will bring healing and reconciliation to a fragmented community, and to restore confidence in the leadership of the parish.”
In September, The Post revealed that Passias and Bouzalas had been engaging in sex acts that involved her seductively sitting on a piece of banana bread — a fetish called “cake crush” or “cake sitting.”
Steve Papadatos, the parish council’s ousted president, told The Post on Sunday that he was taken aback by the timing of the decision to dismantle the church’s executive board, but he said he understood and respected the move.
“Honestly, I hope I’d have a little bit more time, but I’m not completely shocked,” Papadatos explained.
“If they felt it was right thing for the church, I stand by that.
“Did I want to be removed? No, but I understand the situation, and I understand the predicament they were in.”
Fr. George, a married priest, was given permission by the Church to have marital relations with his wife, Mary. The ecclesiastical canons are clear about forbidding marital relations on fast days, the night before partaking of Holy Communion, and during menstruation cycles. Some priests also undergo a cleansing fast before performing certain functions; such as exorcisms, or when they are focused on praying for specific people, or for specific things. It stands to reason that they’d be abstinent for more significant periods of time then a lay person would. The limitations imposed on married couples allows less than 150 days a year in which they’re “allowed” to have approved sexual relations with their spouse. Ecclesiastic canons only permit married couples to have penile/vaginal relations, with the heavy promise of communion loss for the forbidden acts of oral, anal, or digital stimulation.
As a disciple of Geronda Ephraim, Fr. George would’ve been instructed to stop having marital relations with his Presvytera when they decided to not have any more children; i.e. sexual relations are only for procreation not for pleasure. Thus, Fr. George would have been directed by Geronda Ephraim to stop having any marital relations with his Presvytera when they made the decision to have no more children. After their fourth child, Geronda Ephraim would have enjoined Fr. George and Presvytera Mary to remain chaste to each other.
If they were true believers who followed orders without question, Fr. George and Presvytera Mary would have lived an abstemious life from as early as the late 80’s.
Over the years, Fr. George became well known within the Greek Orthodox community (especially among Geronda Ephraim’s disciples) for being an especially pious, spiritually minded, humble priest with a traditional nature. He was spoken of with reverence, about his sanctity, and his holiness.
Was that all just a facade? Was there substance to his piety, or was it all just a carefully constructed persona?
The devotees of Geronda Ephraim were indoctrinated with the piety and spirituality of Fr George, which brings into question whether people actually believed in the man, or because they had imposed upon them an ideal that Geronda Ephraim carefully constructed through his counsel?
In May, 1997, Fr George was appointed Chancellor of the GOA, and during this time, he and Presvtera would have been “living as brother and sister.” It seems ironic, considering the content of the video proofs that have recently come to light, that it was Fr. George that pushed for the writing of the Orthodox Church’s new, stricter policies on sexual misconduct, when he was on staff at the Archdiocese). http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/documents/misconduct_policy
This is by no means an uncommon human characteristic (particularly in religious figures/leaders), as those who speak out vehemently against homosexuality, often hide the fact that they themselves are homosexual from the world, those who condemn those who indulge in sexual perversion, to be closeted perverts themselves.
As Elder Ephraim says, “Where virtue is much spoke of, it is usually absent. “
Living a celibate life in the world, whilst hearing confessions about other people’s desires, carnal sins, and the kinks and fetishes they indulged in, must have fanned the flames of his own passions. Only Fr. George knows how his perversions progressed to the point that he felt he had to act on them, and while many theories could be put forth, only he knows how he set himself upon that path. The Science Behind Your Sex Fetish – Shape Magazine
Both pilgrims and monastics are taught in Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries that the relationship between a spiritual Father and his spiritual Child is a deep, meaningful bond, both stronger and more important than the parent/child bond that exists in biological families.
Because Father George baptized Ethel, and took on this divine responsibility, the depravity of his acts should be viewed as the corrupt acts that they are. In essence, the sexual relationship that they shared together is the spiritual equivalent of a parent having incestuous relations with their child.
To read about the Orthodox Church’s teaching about spiritual fathers, as well as on the inappropriate types of relationships/marriages it prohibits, see:
Did Fr. Ephraim know about the inappropriate relationship taking place with his Spiritual Child?
The affair itself has been ongoing for at least 2 years, and there are a couple of likely scenarios.
a) Fr. George may have been making sincere and honest confessions to his spiritual father, Geronda Ephraim, revealing in depth the ongoing adultery, fornication, and sexual deviancy he was indulging in.
b) Fr. George hasn’t had a clean and honest confession since the affair started, and has been hiding both his thoughts and deeds from Geronda Ephraim.
If Fr. George was sincere in his confessions, how was it possible that Geronda Ephraim allowed him to continue as a priest, since the Canons strictly forbid a priest behaving in this way?
A bit of divergence is necessary to give some background.
To protect his name, and his monasteries from possible scandal and public humiliation, Geronda Ephraim “overrides” the Canons when it suits his purpose. The devotion to Geronda Ephraim overshadows the Canons and God’s Commandments, and allows his disciples to readily accept the contradictory holy missives that he shares with them. How could one question a holy vision received during prayer?
Geronda Ephraim’s disciples believe that there is no sin in blind obedience, other then disobeying a command-even if it breaks the Canons, they fervently believe that they will not be judged or punished for doing blind obedience.
To further his missionary work, Geronda Ephraim has broken the Canons before, and in turn, the abbots and abbesses of his monasteries also follow his idiorrhythmic example.
In 1989, Rev. Fr. Eustathios Kontoravdis (d. 2009) was the driver in a car crash that killed his wife, Presvytera Kyriaki. After this tragic event, Geronda Ephraim told him that according to the Canons, he should no longer serve as a priest.
In 1984, Ioannis Voutsas (now Geronda Joseph, abbot of St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY) was the driver in a car crash that killed Geronda Ephraim Koutsibo, then Abbot of Xeropotamou Monastery. Despite this seemingly canonical impediment to the priesthood, Geronda Ephraim had Ioannis Voutsas ordained to the priesthood at Philotheou Monastery, Mt. Athos.
Geronda Ephraim gave Geronda Joseph an obedience to tell people he doesn’t remember much from the accident thus enabling him to avoid conversing about it. Though Geronda Joseph is reluctant to talk about the details of this accident, over the years he has given information to various spiritual children. These details, combined with the information shared by Metropolitan Athansios of Lemesou (his best friend since his days at the University of Thessalonica) can be found here:
In the past, when things have occurred in Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries which canonically requires a bishop to be informed or to absolve, Geronda Ephraim has given his own penances and “absolved” it through his koboschoini.
If Fr. George Passias did not have clean confession with Geronda Ephraim, then many more questions need to be raised.
Fr. George has been a spiritual child of Geronda Ephraim for over 30 years, and they were quite close.
“I know when you’re lying,” is a common phrase of Gerondas/Gerondissas towards their disciples. “A parent doesn’t know when their own child is lying to them?”
So, as a spiritual Father, did Geronda Ephraim know Fr. George was lying to him and hiding thoughts?
In the monasteries, the monastics are taught that Geronda Ephraim is a “knower of hearts;” he knows everything about a person from just one glance, he knows what is hidden in people’s hearts, and he can see the demons and passions that dominate an individual. In some cases, especially with carnal sins, it is said he can smell the stench of sin emitting from the individual. It is also said that when he does koboschoini for his spiritual children, he can see them, what they’re doing, feeling, thinking, etc. Geronda Ephraim’s monastics teach these things to the pilgrims who visit their monasteries.
In cases where Geronda Ephraim is surprised by events he did not foresee—i.e. monastics returning to the world unannounced, serious sins and betrayals by his monastics or long-time spiritual children, etc.—people sometimes ask, “If Geronda Ephraim is such a big prophet, how did he not know this would happen?” His disciples will quickly justify Geronda Ephraim’s ignorance with examples from the Gerontikon explaining that God does not always reveal things to His saints.
If Fr. George had been hiding his sins in confession, while the affair has been ongoing for 2+ years, that would mean every time Geronda Ephraim prayed for Fr. George (either koboschoini or proskomide), or whenever the Elder saw or spoke to Fr. George outside the exomologetarion, he must not have received any information from God about the state of Fr. George’s soul.
Alternatively, if Geronda Ephraim did receive information, he ignored the ecclesiastical canons and, in essence, blessed Fr. George to continue serving as a priest, to the detriment of both their souls.
Pilgrims are told by Geronda Ephraim’s disciples that, “Geronda Ephraim knows, however, he can’t force people to make clean confessions.” Of course, this contradicts all the stories of Geronda Ephraim revealing peoples’ hidden sins to them during confession.
There is also the possibility that Geronda Ephraim has known about Fr. George’s sexual misconduct for the last few years and has been giving him obediences to stop serving as a priest and was ignored.
We will never know, as the mystery of confession is confidential. Geronda Ephraim does share the confessions of individuals with the abbot or abbess of the monastery that these individuals visit, especially if there are serious things that the heads need to know.
In the Orthodox Church, clergymen have stricter judgments and restrictions than lay people. More is expected of them due to the grace of ordination, and when they fall, the punishments tend to be stricter than those of laypeople. Carnal sins usually lead to defrocking.
In one scene, Fr. George, wearing just a white t shirt, watches Ethel plant her thong-clad bottom on a piece of banana bread wrapped in cellophane, and then crush it with her stilettos. In the Orthodox teachings about spiritual warfare, Fr. George watching Ethel in this act would be considered sinful as he consented in his heart.
In another video clip, Ethel rubs her feet on the priest’s face as they lie under a mirrored ceiling, as she records his ecstasy at the encounter. Ethel then smothers the cake with her feet and bottom. In the kink community, there is a direct relationship between people who have foot fetishes, and those who have Pygophillia-(buttocks fetish)-it’s a safe assumption that Fr. George probably also indulged in face-sitting.
Foot smothering and ass worship are often linked, as these forms of humiliation and degradation have a lot in common, both with the physical attributes of the senses (smell, taste, touch, sight) and the psychological predispositions that drive people to these fetishes.
There’s a reason that the monasteries have male and female pilgrims wear socks and cover their feet: foot fetishes and the accompanying lust warfare that can be caused by looking at feet. Pilgrims to Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries have been told in confession that though foot fetishes and foot worship are not technically carnal sins that receive penances, they are dirty passions that should be avoided because they can open the door to even filthier passions which do carry heavy penances. Seeing that indulging in foot fetishism is pointless sexual gratification, it’s forbidden: http://www.stanthonysmonastery.org/visitorguide.php
Buttock worship and face-sitting would be one of those dirtier passions which, depending on the acts involved, carry penances from 2-10 years of no Holy Communion.
In another tape, Fr. George performs oral sex on Ethel while she is still clad in sheer pantyhose.
In the Orthodox Church, all forms of oral sex—fellatio, cunnilingus, and analingus—are forbidden and punished with penances starting at 2 years of no Holy Communion.
Here is a basic list of how carnal sins are punished by the Father Confessors in obedience to Geronda Ephraim:
Masturbation/Hand Jobs: 40 days no Communion, 50+ extra prostrations daily.
Vaginal Intercourse Outside of Marriage: 1 year no Communion, 50+ extra prostrations daily.
Oral Sex:2 years no Communion, 50+ extra prostrations daily.
Anal Sex: 5-10 years no Communion, 50+ extra prostrations daily.
NOTE: The above list contains the basic penances for lay people. Monastic penances for similar sins can vary (either being less out of economia, or more because of their rank and stature). Also, this list is for heterosexual sins. These sins committed in same-sex relationships receive harsher and severe penances. For a more in depth look at ecclesiastical canons and carnal sins see:
Fr. George is now 67. The evidence reveals that he has committed adultery, spiritual incest, fornication, and possibly sodomitic sins. These “multitudinous sins and shortcomings” combined with the heavy sin of continuing to serve as a priest and perform the Liturgy, will rack up a very large penance for him. Undoubtedly, Geronda Ephraim has banned him from Communion until his deathbed.
NOTE: This article is taken from the Australian newspaper, The Courier Mail, October 4, 2015.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has suspended Fr. George Passias after an extra-marital affair came to light with a woman from his parish. That affair, which has allegedly been going on for years, resulted in the pregnancy of the woman.
It should be noted that Fr. George Passias is a long-time spiritual child of Geronda Ephraim of Arizona. When he was Chancellor of the Archdiocese (during Archbishop Spyridon’s reign), he helped Geronda Ephraim get blessings to build 8 new monasteries. He provided the monasteries with inside information on the bishops, priests, etc. who were opposed to the monasteries, the things they said about the monasteries, as well as confidential information from the Archdiocese. He was once nicknamed “Geronda’s eyes and ears inside the Archdiocese.”
In 1997, he aided Geronda Joseph Voutsas and his brotherhood so they could leave Canada undetected by Metropolitan Sotirios and reside at St. Anthony’s Monastery until they bought new property in the States.
Now, the article:
A HIGH-RANKING Greek Orthodox priest starred in kinky sex tapes with his much-younger parish-school principal and was forced to resign after the affair — which he’d denied for years — was confirmed by church elders.
Father George Passias, the married 67-year-old pastor of St. Spyridon Church in Manhattan, even impregnated his married lover, 45-year-old Ethel Bouzalas, according to sources.
Passias was once the chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, in charge of all of the religion’s US priests, reports the New York Post.
An adherent to a fundamentalist faction of Greek Orthodoxy led by a controversial cleric in Arizona, he took the helm of St. Spyridon nine years ago — and immediately ordered female worshippers to cover their heads during confession.
But there was no such nod to modesty in their shocking sex videos. In one scene, the bearded cleric, wearing only a white T-shirt, watches his long-haired brunette lover plant her G-string clad bottom on a piece of banana bread wrapped in cling wrap.
Mrs Bouzalas, wearing stiletto heels, oddly wiggles on the loaf until it is flattened — a fetish known as “cake crush” or “cake sitting”.
In another video clip, the pretty Peruvian rubs her feet on the priest’s face as they lie under a mirrored ceiling and she records his ecstasy at the encounter. In another tape, the priest performs oral sex on his lover while she is still clad in sheer pantyhose.
The videos and photos of the pair were provided anonymously to The Post last week with a letter saying they were downloaded off a computer in Passias’s church office. The sender wrote that a private investigator had been hired to tail the couple to their rendezvous in motels in New Jersey and upstate New York.
The scandal blew up in early September when Tom Bouzalas, Ethel Bouzalas’s husband, emailed Bishop Andonios Paropoulos, the chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States, and disclosed the affair, the bishop told The Post.
The bishop said that both Fr Passias and Ethel Bouzalas then came to see him and that Fr Passias was suspended on September 16 “as per the sexual-misconduct policy of the archdiocese”.
Bishop Andonios said he had not seen the sex tapes but “learned of their existence during our meetings with both parties”.
After a weeks-long absence from the pulpit, Fr Passias told his St. Spyridon flock in an email last week that he was leaving for “personal and health reasons”, and confessed to “multitudinous sins and shortcomings”.
“I will now fade out of this world for a considerable time according to God’s will,” he wrote. “He has chosen for me … that I should retire and follow the way of silence, prayer, fasting, and utter devotion to our Lord.
“Please do not ask where I am going and where I will be. Then it would not be possible for me to fulfil what is my lot.”
He asked his parishioners to pray for him and his wife. He has four grown children. Mrs Bouzalas has three kids.
‘She’s a goddaughter to me’
In 2013, The Post broke the story about the unorthodox relationship between Fr Passias and Mrs Bouzalas and alleged fiscal wrongdoing at the church, which has nearly 200 families and was established in 1931 when the neighbourhood was a Greek stronghold.
When Fr Passias took the helm of the Wadsworth Avenue church in 2006, Mrs Bouzalas came with him as his assistant. He called her his “spiritual goddaughter,” and they arrived and left together every day. A church handyman said he once saw her sitting on the priest’s lap.
Mrs Bouzalas told parishioners that she converted to the Greek Orthodox faith and that Fr Passias baptised her while she wore a bikini. The conversion apparently came before she was to marry her husband, a follower of the faith.
Greek Orthodoxy has 24 million followers worldwide. The seat of the Christian church is in Istanbul, Turkey, presided over by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Priests can only be men but are allowed to marry.
With his flowing black robes and oversized cross around his neck, Fr Passias cut an imposing and authoritative figure. Mrs Bouzalas, meanwhile, favoured short skirts and high heels.
Mrs Bouzalas, who had no education credentials, was soon promoted to be the volunteer principal of the St. Spyridon Parochial School, which serves kindergarten to eighth grade and has a taxpayer-funded pre-kindergarten program. She also became church treasurer and a signatory on bank accounts.
In addition to imposing the conservative rules, Fr Passias ruffled longtime congregants who said he removed controls over church spending and questioned why money was being poured into repairs at the school.
Management of four church-owned apartment buildings was given over to a company tied to Alma Bank, which also provided cash and mortgage refinancing. Renovations of the buildings was then done by two firms tied to principals at Alma Bank.
In 2013, Fr Passias told The Post the allegations were cooked up by a group of “evil-minded people” — parishioners who wanted him gone.
They have been saying I’m having a private affair with her,” he said. “She is a goddaughter to me. That’s it.”
Steve Papadatos, the Parish Council president, at the time called the allegations against Fr Passias “lies”, then blasted The Post for publishing a story that he said was “replete with slander” and innuendo. He called the church “eternally grateful” to the priest and Bouzalas, according to The National Herald, a newspaper that covers the Greek community.
Mr Papadatos last week said that he wouldn’t comment on the scandal, but that he stood by Fr Passias and Mrs Bouzalas and wanted people to pray for them.
The bishop said that the misconduct was brought before a “Spiritual Court of the First Degree” last week and that a council of church leaders — including the head of Greek Orthodoxy in the United States — will review the findings. Any punishment, including possible defrocking, will be decided in Istanbul.
Church to investigate
Asked why the church had ignored the longtime allegations of the affair, the bishop said, “Lacking any concrete evidence of an affair, there was no responsible way the church could take any further action.”
He said an audit a few years ago found no misuse of funds, but another investigation would take place “to assure that between that time and now, nothing has changed”.
Mrs Bouzalas packed up her school office last week. A moving van carted off a desk, filing cabinet, table and shopping bags with her belongings. A new principal has been assigned to the school.
Her husband refused to comment on the affair or the pregnancy but said the couple was still together. He confirmed he knew of the sex tapes.
Fr Passias, in his farewell note to parishioners, said he was following the direction of “my spiritual father Geronda Ephraim”. Ephraim presides over St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox monastery in Florence, Ariz. The family of a young man who lived there and committed suicide in 2012 contends the death was the result of “six years of physical and psychological abuse” at the monastery.
When close spiritual children of Geronda Ephraim fall into scandal, especially if they hold any rank or prestige in the community, the monasteries usually give an Ephraim-centric explanation and justification. The Ephraim-centric explanation is always, “The devil is trying to hurt Geronda Ephraim through his spiritual children” (usually via betrayal, scandal, etc.). Thus, it’s never really about the struggle and hardships of the individual but rather their fall or shortcomings are weapons the devil uses to target Geronda Ephraim.
When the individual is regarded as holy or as some esteem in the Greek community, the monastery’s simple answer is usually, “No one is infallible. Even saints on their deathbed have lost their souls due to lapsing into pride. Only Christ is infallible. Nothing is concrete until you’ve actually passed the toll-houses and are saved. Saints have even lost their souls on the last rung of the ladder.”
Of course, when Geronda Ephraim’s spiritual children have reputations and are “famous,” such as, Stylianos Kementzetzidis, Elder Ephraim Dikaios, Fr. George Passias, etc., then the “deeper,” “spiritual” explanation of their fall becomes Ephraim-centric: “The demons used these people to hurt and sadden Geronda Ephraim.”
In this case, because Fr. George helped Geronda Ephraim so much in the early years and was instrumental in the establishment of so many monasteries in America, sharing inside information so Geronda Ephraim would be aware of “what was going on behind the scenes in the Archdiocese,” etc., the devil became jealous and resented him. Thus, he wanted to make Fr. George fall for two reasons:
1) To hurt and sadden Geronda Ephraim.
2) To scandalize the Greek community and make people fall from the faith (since so many Greek Orthodox regarded Fr. George as pious and holy).
After his suspension, Fr. George sent an email to his “spiritual children” announcing his retirement. The complete email that Fr. George Passias sent to numerous followers is below:
My Beloved Spiritual Children in Christ Jesus our Lord:
Today I share with you a very difficult and trying period in my priestly life.
The time has come for me to resign from the active ministry for personal and health reasons. Now I will dedicate myself to the repentance that I have tried to preach and share on behalf of our Lord. At the direction of my spiritual father Geronda Ephraim, I will now fade out of this world for a considerable time according to God’s will. He has chosen for me according to my multitudinous sins and shortcomings, that I should retire and follow the way of silence, prayer, fasting, and utter devotion to our Lord. Please do not ask where I am going and where I will be. Then it would not be possible for me to fulfill what is my lot.
It is immeasurably difficult for me to direct you to seek through prayer and vigilance, another spiritual father who will be able to address your needs with love, truth, and conviction for the betterment of your souls. God will provide. But you must also do the due diligence by seeking another Father, and then after prayer, choosing him as your spiritual guide and father. Think not that I will forget you! Never! I have already entered your names to be commemorated every day in the Holy Liturgy forever!
I am very grateful to the Lord for granting me to be a spiritual father to you, and have tried to do the best that I could to do in that role making myself as available as time and health permitted.
I will always love you through prayer and in my heart together with your family.
Please pray for me and Presvytera Mary, and my family I implore you.