Greek Orthodox Abuse

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

From Eureka

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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.

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(alphabetical listing)

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. 

Abbot Nephon Anastasopoulos, arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing at least 21 novice monks.
Abbot Nephon Anastasopoulos, arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing at least 21 novice monks.

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. 

  1. Christodoulos’ innermost circle Metropolitan Theoklitos of Thessaliotis (Karditsa), priest Seraphim Koulousousas, drug dealer Apostolos Vavylis.
  2. 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.
    1. 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.

 Αρχιεπίσκοπος Χριστόδουλος

  1. 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. 
    1. 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.
    2. 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
Apostolos Vavylis
Apostolos Vavylis
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
Epifanios Iconomou
Epifanios Iconomou

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.

  1. 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.
    1. 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.

Archimandrite Iakovos Giosakis
Archimandrite Iakovos Giosakis
  1. Yiossakis case Iakovos Yiossakis, a priest in detention pending trial for antiquities theft, was allegedly the eminence grise at the center of the ring.
  2. 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.”

Metropolitan Panteleimon Attica
Metropolitan Panteleimon Attica

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.

Vatopaidi Monastery swindle Fathers Arsenios and Ephraim, two monks who apparently duped the Greek Ministry of Finance out of a millions of dollars. 

Abbot Ephraim & Monk Arsenios of Vatopaidi Monastery, Mt. Athos
Abbot Ephraim & Monk Arsenios of Vatopaidi Monastery, Mt. Athos

OTHER CASES

Other investigations Church is investigating four more clerics.

  1. Anon priest I Church is investigating four more clerics, no data.
  2. Anon priest II Church is investigating four more clerics, no data.
  3. Anon priest III Church is investigating four more clerics, no data.
  4. 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.

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ALPHABETICAL LISTING

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.

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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.

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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.

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Anon priest IV 63-year-old priest, a client of the Athens sex-slave ring sentenced to 24-years in prison.

  1. 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.

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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/

Rev. Gabriel Barrow
Rev. Gabriel Barrow

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.

L-R: Bps. Vikentios and Evangelos of New Jersey.
L-R: Bps. Vikentios and Evangelos of New Jersey.

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.

  1. 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

Rev. Nicholas T. Graff
Rev. Nicholas T. Graff

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.

  1. Texas accusation Two sexual abuse allegations brought against Katinas in Dallas federal court 2007.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Rev. Nicholas E. Katinas
Rev. Nicholas E. Katinas

“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/

Rev. Emmanuel Koveos
Rev. Emmanuel Koveos

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

Rev. Michael Pappas

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

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http://greece.greekreporter.com/2013/12/02/scandals-in-the-greek-church-go-public/

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

"Bishop" Pangratios Vrionis of Queens, NY.
“Bishop” Pangratios Vrionis of Queens, NY.

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.

Patriarchate of Jerusalem

Irineos I (Eirinaios; Irenaios)

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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

Patriarch Irineos

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.

Yes, Investigate the Monasteries (Paul Cromidas)

Orthodox News – Volume 5 Number 50/April 27, 2003

In the Greek-American paper, The National Herald, English Edition of April 5-6, 2003, it was reported that the Eparchial Synod of America, recently discussed “…the monasteries established all over the U.S. by the former abbot from Mt. Athos, Fr. Efraim. It has been said that some sort of fundamentalist movement with a cult philosophy has been advocated by the followers of Efraim, and is having an impact among the clergy and theology students at Holy Cross School of Theology.”

The Herald deserves thanks for at least reporting something about this matter, brief though it may be. I hope they follow up on this important story.

Concerns about Efraim have been expressed for several years now. It is about time that there was an investigation. Because monasteries don’t have “parish councils” doesn’t mean that lay people should be kept in the dark about them, here in America or elsewhere. Some of the concerns about Efraim and his monasteries have to do with funding, with personality cults and with blind obedience and mind-control. There are families in the Archdiocese who feel devastated because they have “lost” a child to one of these monasteries. That aspect alone needs to be looked into thoroughly.

The bishops are supposed to oversee the monasteries in their territories. We can infer from the Herald article that they are very much concerned about Efraim and his administration. But, the Orthodox laity of this country also have a right to know what is going on in the monasteries. Any proper inquiry should include independent lay people, if it is to have credibility. We should not simply be told that the bishops will handle this and we shouldn’t worry our little heads about it.

At its annual meeting in the year 2000, the Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL), heard a speaker on “Cult Mentality: A Threat to Individual Responsibility in the Church”. The speaker was Greta Larson, a co-founder of the web-site, “Protection of the Theotokos – A Site for Victims of Abuse in the Orthodox Church.” The site address is “pokrov. org“, and it contains other articles on cults. In her speech, Ms. Larson also referred to an article by Metropolitan Isaiah which warned about the dangers of blind obedience.

Because it is difficult to know what is going on in monasteries, the press and the hierarchs have a special obligation to keep the faithful informed. It is to be hoped that they will live up to this duty.

https://web.archive.org/web/20100106032611/http://rickross.com/reference/ephraim/ephraim12.html

Geronda Ephraim in his younger years.
Geronda Ephraim in his younger years.

What the Archbishop Could Have Said At the Clergy-Laity (A.P. Cromidas)

An article published on the Pokrov.org website, August 02, 2012:

The recently-concluded Clergy-Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, held in Phoenix, was long on praise and short on forthrightness, like previous such gatherings. Sadly, this year, the opportunity for Archbishop Demetrios to be direct and frank about two timely and important news reports was lost.

First was the alleged sexual misconduct by a married, middle-aged student at Holy Cross Seminary with the under-age daughter of a priest-student also attending the school. Both families were living in campus housing. The report was on the web and in The National Herald, the Greek-American newspaper.

The second matter was about the apparent suicide of Scott Nevins, a young, former monk, at St. Anthony Monastery in Florence, Arizona, not far from Phoenix. This monastery and others are controlled by the monk, “Elder” Ephraim, who has started and sustains some 20 monasteries in the U.S. There has been concern for some years about what is seen as a fundamentalist theological influence on American parishes by the “Ephraimites”. A committee of the archdiocese is said to be studying this matter.

On the misconduct issue, Archbishop Demetrios, in his keynote address to the delegates, came as close to the subject of abuse as he ever does when he said that sexual misconduct is one of the serious problems in today’s world. No mention was made of this also being a problem for the archdiocese, as it has been for other religions, or the allegations at Holy Cross. Another lost opportunity was when the 75th anniversary of the seminary was being noted.

What the archbishop could have said when he mentioned misconduct was at least something like:

‘In that connection, I am sorry to report that there has been a recent allegation of sexual misconduct by one of our married students at our seminary. The matter has been reported to civil authorities and is under investigation. The archdiocese will keep the faithful informed of developments in this situation.’

On the second matter, the archbishop could have started off by expressing sympathy to the Nevins family. He could have outlined some of what is known about the situation, namely that the young man had been at St. Anthony’s for some six years, but left more than a year ago and had been attending community college in Oregon. On a web site he started, Nevins had termed the monastery a cult and the Elder a cult leader.

Why Nevins returned to the monastery site is unknown, but he did, and apparently took his own life near the entry of the facility. There has been little in terms of police reports. Regrettably, what has been reported about the situation and the suicide has come primarily from monastery spokesmen and may not be fully objective.

(It is known that the Nevins family had complained to the archdiocese over a number of years about what they saw as an unhealthy Ephraimite influence on their son and on the church, but to no avail. The family had reported being devastated when their son had left his California home to join the monastery in what was a surprise move to the parents.)

In this case, the archbishop could also have said:

‘I wish to report to you that a committee of our archdiocese is currently examining the concerns that have been expressed about the monasteries by both clergy and lay people. Metropolitan Evangelos is chairman of this committee, and again, the faithful will be informed about the results of this inquiry’.

Will there be more openness on these matters by the archbishop, or by the metropolitans? If their track record is any indication, it would appear not. The National Herald reported that “Archdiocese officials had taken all measures to avoid any discussion among the clergy and laity participants about the alleged suicide as well as the monasteries established and controlled by elder Ephraim…” The Herald also reported that extraordinary security was provided at the Congress – apparently to protect the hierarchs(?) Did that action alone not justify at least some explanation to the assembly?

In a related development, a strongly-worded letter was sent recently to Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, with copies to all the other American hierarchs, by Cappy Larson, a founder of the Pokrov web-site, regarding the former monk’s tragedy. As of this writing it has not been answered by any of them. The letter accuses the metropolitan and the archdiocese of having “blood on their hands” in the Nevins case.

Each metropolis is supposed to oversee the monasteries in its territory, and Arizona is in the San Francisco metropolis. The Larson letter is posted on http://www.pokrov.org, as is other writing on this subject. For instance, Theodore Kalmoukos, the main religion reporter for The National Herald, also wrote that the archdiocese is now having “to deal with blood on its hands”, in the Nevins matter. The metropolitan did send a letter to clergy notifying them of the death and asking for prayers for the young man’s soul, but there has been no notice to the faithful from the church.

Sexual misconduct, along with the Ephraim issue have both been concerns for the archdiocese for at least the past decade, but the faithful wouldn’t necessarily know it – even though in the misconduct area some $15 million has been paid to settle law suits.

In an ironic development, the second largest of the Orthodox branches in the United States, the OCA – Orthodox Church in America – has just announced the forced resignation of its head, Metropolitan Jonah, in part because of his mishandling of a clergy sexual misconduct situation.

It would appear that all Orthodox hierarchs should also be paying attention to the two recent, highly-publicized convictions in Pennsylvania involving child abuse. In Philadelphia, a Catholic monsignor was convicted of child endangerment and sentenced to “up to six years” in jail because of his role in re-assigning known abuser priests. He is believed to be the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic clergyman convicted of such cover-up.

Can this happen to an Orthodox bishop or chancellor, as well?

As the New York Times editorialized, “The sentence should be a clear warning to church officials that criminal law, not church evasion, is the law of the land when it comes to protecting innocent children.”

In the other case, that of Penn State and the Sandusky conviction, it was clear that the university was being protected over the safety of children, a mind-set and practice – a culture – that exists in churches, as well. Both these convictions should give pause to Orthodox clergy and bishops because Orthodoxy has also covered-up abuse. The Penn State case showed how damaging it can be to the defendants – churches or other institutions – when abuse victims are called on to give graphic testimony in court. That may very well be why such lawsuits against Orthodox churches have usually been settled out of court.

The Holy Cross matter and the Nevins tragedy should also prompt Orthodox lay people to renew their proper and God-given role as human rights “watchdogs” in these matters. “Voice of God, Voice of the Laity”.

 

Scott Nevins before the monastic life.
Scott Nevins before the monastic life.