NOTE: This is a brief overview of some of the scandals that have rocked the Greek Orthodox Church over the past few decades. It is by no means an exhaustive list. For those interested in a more comprehensive look at the rampant abuses of Orthodox bishops, priests and monastics go to POKROV.
Greek Orthodox Church structure State religion with 10,500 priests and 10,000 theologians, paid government salaries similar to those earned by high-school teachers. Its 81 bishops are far more powerful, earning tax-free salaries similar to those of cabinet ministers and at least twice again that much from fees for weddings, baptisms and funerals, from the rental of burial plots and from the construction and renting of apartments on church property.
Greek Orthodox Church scandal Worst crisis in the church’s modern history, with allegations of theft, skulduggery, homosexuality, sexual improprieties, trial rigging, drug and antiquities smuggling engulfed the institution. Tape-recordings revealed rampant homosexuality among senior clerics who, unlike ordinary priests, are under oaths of chastity. The Greek Orthodox Church sees homosexuality as an “abomination,” with the archbishop recently describing it as a “blatant, crying sin.” Erupted when Bishop Theoklitos of Thessaliotis resigned after being accused of running a trial-fixing ring; four high-court judges and several politicians were allegedly paid large sums of money to clear the bishop and his associates of charges that included drug dealing and homosexuality (which is illegal in the church), February 2005.
Greek Orthodox mafia Greek Orthodox Church is run by bishops who were accused of serious crimes, amounting to an organized crime ring that exerted control over Greek politicians and judges, and to have used the church’s almost unlimited powers to build a mafia-like hierarchy of wealth and corruption.
Aghia Skepi Monastery affair Abbot (1941-) of Aghia Skepi Monastery in Keratea, east of Athens, was arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing at least 21 novice monks over the last two decades, after four men aged 18 to 34 went to a police station in Keratea and told officers that the monk repeatedly abused them between 1988 and 2007 while they were at the monastery, 10 March 2009.
Archbishop Christodoulos affair Embattled spiritual leader accused of procuring the services of a convicted drug smuggler, Apostolos Vavylis, to help elect a favoured cleric to the post of patriarch of Jerusalem. Investigations have shown that the archbishop wrote a recommendation letter for Vavylis months before he was arrested smuggling heroin.
- Christodoulos’ innermost circle Metropolitan Theoklitos of Thessaliotis (Karditsa), priest Seraphim Koulousousas, drug dealer Apostolos Vavylis.
- Seraphim Koulousousas Priest who served as Christodoulos private secretary for two years. The tabloid Avriani on 15 February 2005 ran a front-page story reporting that Koulousousas attempted suicide with an overdose of pills after breaking up an affair of several years with Theoklitos. The paper attempted to link Koulousousas with the ongoing crisis in the Greek judiciary, noting that the priest is a cousin of Judge George Kalousis, whose expulsion on charges of bribery and running a prostitution ring had been proposed by the supreme court.
- Koulousousas affair Seraphim Koulousousas, the archbishop’s former private secretary, was implicated in another “unholy affair” involving gay sex with a bishop, announced that he was leaving the church to embark on a career as a fashion designer in Paris, February 2005.
- Apostolos Vavylis (Apostolos Vavilis) (alias Apostolos Fokas) Shadowy figure is widely believed to have been an Israeli Mossad agent, who had been placed on an Interpol wanted list by Italian authorities in 1994 for drug trafficking. He was convicted in Larissa in 1991 for transporting over one kilo of heroin, for which he received a 13-year sentence. Two years later, the sentence was suspended for 15 years, reportedly after he offered information leading to the arrest of other dealers. He allegedly sold Israeli equipment to the police, attended an international Church conference dressed as a priest and was involved behind the scenes in the stormy election of the Orthodox patriarch Eirinaios of Jerusalem in 2001.
- Christodoulos reference As bishop of Volos in the late 1980s, Christodoulos wrote a glowing recommendation for Vavylis one year before he was arrested for carrying over one kilo of heroin. While the archbishop denied contact with Vavylis after that, a photograph showed him as part of Christodoulos’ entourage on an official visit to Syria in November 2003.
- Apostolos Vavylis apartment Used by Vavilis in Holargos, northern Athens, rented in the name of Archimandrite Nikodimos Farmakis, a cleric close to Kallinikos, Bishop of Piraeus. Farmakis denied having rented the flat, but admitted to having visited Vavilis
- Iconomou affair Christodoulos’s spokesman, Epifanios Iconomou, offered to resign yesterday after it emerged that he had paid a drug addict for tapes allegedly incriminating the bishop of Zakynthos, a prominent critic of the archbishop. His offer was not accepted.
- Kalatzis case Petros Kalatzis, who had worked for Christodoulos’ diocese and was arrested for drugs, Christodoulos wrote a letter to the court asking that the man not be jailed pending trial. Kalatzis received a six-year sentence while his accomplice got a twelve-year term.
Metropolitan Theoklitos of Thessaliotis affair Metropolitan Theoklitos of Thessaliotis (Karditsa) is under investigation by a three-member committee of bishops. In a sworn affidavit, Theoklitos’ predecessor, Metropolitan Constantine, alleged that Theoklitos was arrested in a bar on suspicion of drug dealing, along with priest Seraphim Koulousousas, who later served as Christodoulos’ private secretary for two years.
- Metropolitan Theoklitos of Thessaliotis arrest Metropolitan Theoklitos of Thessaliotis (Karditsa) was arrested on suspicion of drug dealing in a police raid on a notorious nightclub in Athens. The priest was rounded up with Seraphim Koulousousas. Resigned 25 February 2005.
- Karditsa Area of central Greece.
Archimandrite Iakovos Giosakis affair Suspended after being charged with antiquities smuggling following the disappearance of valuable icons from his former diocese, February 2005.
Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis affair Trial-fixing gang involving judges, lawyers and at least one churchman — Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis.
- Yiossakis case Iakovos Yiossakis, a priest in detention pending trial for antiquities theft, was allegedly the eminence grise at the center of the ring.
- Kaloussis case Court of First Instance President Evangelos Kaloussis, is suspected of having sexually exploited a series of immigrant women and to have banked vast sums that cannot be legitimately accounted for. Kaloussis has been implicated in further wrongdoing during the testimony of yacht-rental entrepreneur Sotiris Kritikos, on one of whose yachts the judge has been photographed with another disgraced member of the judiciary, Constantina Bourboulia — sacked for her handling of a major stock-manipulation probe.
Metropolitan Panteleimon of Attica affair Panteleimon (1919-), Bishop of Attica, a leading churchman who headed Greece’s richest diocese, was withdrawn from duties after allegations of “lewd exchanges with young men” and charges that he had embezzled around ¤4.4 million for “his old age.” He owned an offshore company. The bishop is one of several eminent priests whose names have been linked in a widening trial-fixing and corruption scandal involving at least 20 judges currently under investigation. In the wake of suggestions by fellow members of the synod that he resign, Panteleimon’s reaction was less than charitable. “If I speak, there will be an earthquake. I’ll take many with me to my grave.”
Panteleimon embezzlement Panteleimon, Bishop of Corinth, stood trial for siphoning Church funds into bank accounts in his name 1993-2000, including cash from a girls’ orphanage and an old-age home. Panteleimon was also accused of having falsely claimed that the Bishopric’s financial records were destroyed during the severe floods that afflicted Corinth in 1997. Instead, he ordered an associate to dispose of the potentially incriminating documents in dumpsters on a highway outside Corinth. Another five Corinth priests and the bishop’s female factotum were also indicted.
Other investigations Church is investigating four more clerics.
- Anon priest I Church is investigating four more clerics, no data.
- Anon priest II Church is investigating four more clerics, no data.
- Anon priest III Church is investigating four more clerics, no data.
- Anon metropolitan bishop Church is investigating a 91-year-old metropolitan bishop who was captured on camera cavorting in the nude with a nubile young woman. The picture was splashed across the front page of the mass-selling Avriani.
Anon priest I Unnamed Greek Orthodox priest was charged with molesting a young girl between 2001 and 2002, when he was giving Greek lessons to children in Barcelona, Spain, 2005.
Anon priest II Unnamed Greek Orthodox priest was arrested on the island of Lesvos on suspicion of accessory to prostitution by an undercover police officer posing as a client, having demanded a fee of €100 for the introduction, 13 October 2005.
Anon priest III Greek police charged an Archimandrite (1965-), a priest in the Peloponnese attached to a church near the southern town of Sparta, but was taken into custody in Attica prefecture. He was one of 25 people comprising of a ring downloading child pornography from the internet that displayed pornographic pictures and videos of children as young as 6 months old being sexually abused by adults, 27 January 2009.
Anon priest IV 63-year-old priest, a client of the Athens sex-slave ring sentenced to 24-years in prison.
- Athens sex-slave ring Athens court imposed heavy jail terms, ranging from 18 to 56 years, on four people found guilty of brutal sexual exploitation of minors, 25 February 2010. The four included a woman from Ilion, western Athens, who forced her three underage children to work as sex slaves in 2008. The mother of three was sentenced to 37 years in jail for making her daughter, then aged 11, and her two sons, then aged 8 and 9, have sex with clients. The latter included a 63-year-old priest and an 83-year-old pensioner, who were sentenced to 24-year and 56-year terms respectively.
Barrow affair Rev. Gabriel Barrow, pastor of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Sylvania 1972-77, was suddenly ousted from the denomination 10 October 1977 when faced a tribunal in the Greek Orthodox Church over allegations that he molested three boys in Toledo, Ohio. He was suspended in January, 2004, as pastor of St. John the Theologian Greek Orthodox Church in Webster, Texas, after the Toledo allegations surfaced. http://orthodoxbeacon.com/viewpoints/gabriel-barrow-bishops-silence/
GREEK ORTHODOX ABUSE AUSTRALIA
Demetrie case Dionysios Demetrie, a Greek Orthodox priest, appeared in Box Hill Magistrates Court, Australia, charged with indecently and unlawfully assaulting man, aged 33, in 1994 at Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, Box Hill, in Melbourne’s east, 1995. Court hears Demetrie, of Doncaster, believing victim possessed by evil spirits, groped and tongue kissed man while performing unorthodox exorcism ritual. The victim had gone to Demetrie “desperate for answers” to save marriage but priest only grabbed his bottom and groin saying, “You want it, you want it.” https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/aus.religion.christian/FLUUGl9R76s
GREEK ORTHODOX ABUSE US
Saint Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery
Saint Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery Astoria, NY, co-founded by Bishop Vikentios (Malamatenios).
Metropolitan Paisios Metropolitan Paisios of Tyana (Loulourgas) was accused by Bishop Vikentios of Apameia who made allegations about Metropolitan Paisios of Tyana tenure at the Saint Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery and its Dependencies in Astoria, NY, including charges that the Metropolitan sexually abused the Bishop’s brother, Spyros Malamatenios, who was 17 at the time.
Bishop Vikentios (Malamatenios), a close associate of Metropolitan Paisios (Loulourgas) for 40 years and co-founder of the Monastery, outlined a tale of sex and other alleged wrongdoings. Bishop Vikentios made revelations of alleged serious excesses by the Metropolitan, including that he was involved with people of both sexes, including Christonymphi, The National Herald (USA) 19 December 2010.
- Paisios resignation Metropolitan left the Monastery after submitting two letters of resignation in October 2010, citing health reasons, and returned to Athens, Greece.
Vikentios accusations Bishop Vikentios confirmed reports that a gun was found by the Patriarchal Exarchy in the room of Metropolitan Paisios and that he also sold the golden offerings known as tamata of the faithful at the Monastery’s Greek festival, also taking much of the gold to Greece, which was melted and made hierarchical crosses and pictorials. Bishop Vikentios alleged that even his own life is at risk. He stated that based on the Charter granted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Chrysovalantou Monastery, and also according to New York State’s regulations governing the Legal Corporation of the Chrysovalantou Monastery, both interim Abbots appointed by the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey and Bishop Elias of Philomilion, are considered illegal.
Konstantinos B. Said to have uncovered the scandal, and who allegedly also participated in group sex events with Metropolitan Paisios. The man was said to have given that testimony to the police and the FBI.
Christonymphi accusation Young nun who has given up her Monastic vows and talked to the police. Bishop Vikentios revealed that, according to his information, the former nun had been pregnant but did not know by whom. https://scottnevinssuicide.wordpress.com/category/st-irene-chrysovalantou-greek-orthodox-monastery-ny/
Georgiou accusation Bishop Vikentios asked “forgiveness from the victims’ of Paisios,” at least one of whom, Andreas Georgiou, launched a lawsuit against the Monastery and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
GREEK ORTHODOX ABUSE US CASES
Givens case Roy Joe Givens (1936-) (Father Mathias), former Greek Orthodox priest, was arrested in January 2003 in Springfield, Illinois, and extradited to El Paso, Texas, where he was jailed in lieu of a $500,000 bond, on charges filed about 10 years earlier, was sentenced to 10 years in state prison along with a $10,000 fine after being convicted of sexual misconduct with a then 15-year-old girl while working as a priest at a defunct church he established in El Paso.
Graff affair Very Rev. Nicholas T. Graff and the St. John the Divine Greek Orthodox Church was sued by a former parishioner and his family who allege he was sexually assaulted and also the subject of a bizarre adoption attempt by the priest, filed 17 Septenber 2007. http://archive.firstcoastnews.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=91741
Katinas affair Rev. Nicholas E. Katinas (1935-), pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in North Dallas where he worked for 28 years, sexually abused minors while a priest before going to Dallas. He is also under investigation by the archdiocese for alledgedly abusing a child at Holy Trinity, reported 22 April 2007.
- Texas accusation Two sexual abuse allegations brought against Katinas in Dallas federal court 2007.
- Illinois accusation Lawsuit alleges that a a then-teenage altar boy at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church in Olympia Fields was repeatedly sexually assaulted by the Rev. Nicholas E. Katinas, from spring 1977 to September 1978. Katinas, who joined Assumption in January 1969, groomed the victim for abuse by showering him with attention and telling him he was a “good-looking boy” and that he was “special” before initiating the sexual contact. Katinas was pastor at Assumption from 1969-78, when his superiors transferred him to a Dallas church.
- Katinas cover-up “Greek Orthodox Archdiocese refused to defrock doing everything they could, within their capacity, to “save” Katinas. But defrocking of Rev. Nicholas Katinas was officially carried out, finally by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople on 11 July 2007.
“Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has proven that there was in fact, very serious sexual misconduct committed by Father Nicholas Katinas against children, it is my understanding that the Archdiocese is now refusing to defrock him. It is a disgrace and an embarrassment to our Church, as well as an insult to his victims, if Father Katinas is allowed to remain on an indefinite suspension and is not subsequently defrocked.” Letter to the Editor of Orthodox Reform, 20 April 2007. http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2008/09/yet_another_sexual_abuse_lawsu.php
Koveos case Rev. Emmanuel Koveos, pastor at the Dormition of the Mother of God Greek Orthodox Church in Burlington, was convicted in 1998 of fondling a 12-year-old girl during Greek lessons at the church. http://orthodoxbeacon.com/viewpoints/former-priest-koveos-demonstrates-need-for-listing-defrocked-clergy-online/
Pappas affair Rev. Michael Pappas former priest at Stockton’s St. Basil Greek Orthodox Church resigned from San Francisco’s Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church he has led for the previous three years sent a letter in which he admitted to cheating on his wife and stepped down from his post, August 2007. http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070828/A_NEWS/708280309
Rymer affair Rev. Michael Rymer of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco, was accused by John Doe that he did not tell him that he had been exposed to the AIDS virus, when they engaged in a homosexual relationship from 1989 to 2004. Rymer, who was defrocked as a priest in 2006 and who denied “Doe’s” allegations in a court document filed in 2007, was diagnosed with AIDS in 1990. Lawsuit settled 8 October 2008. http://www.sfgate.com/health/article/Church-settles-sex-abuse-suit-against-priest-3194082.php
Vrionis case Pangratios Vrionis (1944-) who was defrocked from the Greek Orthodox church after being convicted of sexually abusing two boys in 1970. He founded his own independent church in Queens, NY, referring to himself as the archbishop of Sts. Fanourios & Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Cathedral. On 1 February 1999, he showed a 14-year-old boy a pornographic videocassette and touched him sexually. He was arrested April 2003 on charges of third-degree sexual abuse and attempted sexual abuse and as part of a plea deal, Vrionis pleaded guilty to both charges in Queens Criminal Court in exchange for a year of probation, 14 May 2003. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/04/19/nyregion/defrocked-after-68-sex-case-priest-faces-new-accusation.html
PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM
Patriarchate of Jerusalem Ancient Patriarchate of Jerusalem, one of nine highest-ranking Eastern Orthodox bishops, religious leader of 100,000 Christians in the Holy Land.
Irineos I (Eirinaios; Irenaios)
- Irineos election scandal Patriarch Eirinaios of Jerusalem confirmed allegations that Christodoulos sent Apostolos Vavylis as an envoy to help him be elected patriarch in 2001, 23 February 2005. Eirinaios had earlier denied that Christodoulos had sent Vavylis as an envoy. Christodoulos repeated his denial that he sent Vavylis to Jerusalem. Vavylis admitted to distributing manufactured homoerotic pictures of Eirinaios’ chief rival in 2001. http://irineos1.com/burntofferings.html
- Timotheos case Greek Orthodox Bishop Timotheos of Vostra, was charged under anti-terrorism laws in Athens for allegedly plotting to murder of his clerical rival, the head of the ancient Patriarchate of Jerusalem, accused of offering to pay a hit-man, a Palestinian radical, Yusaf Naim al-Mufti, $500,000 to have Eirenaios, killed. Timotheo was said to be angry that he had lost out to Irineos I in the 2001 election to become patriarch, one of the most sought-after roles within the Greek Orthodox Church. Athens criminal prosecutor announced that Timotheos would be charged with forming a criminal gang, May 2003. The bishop, who is in charge of the Patriarchate’s finances, denied the allegations. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/greece/1430453/Greek-bishop-is-accused-of-hiring-hit-man-to-kill-Patriarch.html
- Jerusalem land scandal Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox patriarch, Irineos I was dismissed over an alleged multi-million-dollar sale of church land in a mainly Palestinian area of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem to Jewish investors, 2005. http://www.smh.com.au/news/Middle-East-Conflict/Jerusalem-land-sale-scandal-rocks-Greek-Orthodox-church/2005/03/24/1111525293481.html
Theophilos III Originally from Messini in Greece, was elected the 140th Patriarch of Jerusalem and all Palestine on 22 August 2005, sworn in 22 November 2005.
Recognition withdrawn Jerusalem’s Greek Orthodox patriarch whose recognition was withdrawn by the Jordan government over his alleged failure to recover church land in the holy city sold by his predecessor, May 2007.