GOTRUTHREFORM.ORG DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH

By dogcatcher on December 2nd, 2015

The Editors at Gotruthreform.org received the following email from a reader. The reader’s name has been removed to preserve their anonymity in order to protect them from repercussions because they have existing affiliations within the Church. Here is their email.

Dear Editors of GOTruth,

Fr. Passias is a well-known Ephraimite fundamentalist. I have seen that his actions have been the subject of many articles and blog posts. One such article is from your recent post on GOTruthReform.org. I have asked you to allow me to submit a critical response to this and you agreed. The disturbing accounts of Fr. Passias have rekindled a dialogue. His actions paint a grim picture of the sad state of affairs within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (GOA), concerning fundamentalism, as well as the lack of leadership that fails to deal with it in a direct and forthright manner.

With all due respect to your Editors on GOTruthReform.org, the article “Wayward Priests: How many Canons does a Priest have to violate before being punished?” does not go far enough! (http://gotruthreform.org/wayward-priests-go-unpunished) Why not take the gloves off, GOTruthReform?!!!?? Let’s not let yet another bad situation get swept under the rug. If the Laity doesn’t stand up, who will? I believe our Church is worth our combined effort in order to pull it back from the brink. Numerous quotes are quoted here from various members of our Laity across America concerning our Church’s problems. The universality of these statements of people throughout our country clearly shows the Laity’s perspective on our Church, and their clamor for change.

The Passias incident has caught our attention in a graphic and disturbing way. His swift defrocking might satisfy and silence some. But the fact remains, the indirect and almost sub rosa manner of dealing with is evidence enough that it is still business as usual within our Church.

In response to an article by The National Herald entitled “Archdiocese Suspends Fr. Passias” (Wednesday, October 7, 2015), the following reply resonates amongst many:

It seems that as regularly as mass shootings are perpetrated in America, so are priestly scandals of our Archdiocese. They are both as harmful. Unfortunately, they keep happening. How can these “priests” serve at the altar and yet, commit such immoral acts? That’s beyond our understanding.

Lambros Karpondinis
October 8, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Why does this keep recurring? Let’s review some recent history of the GOA in the United States.

Fr. Passias:

No need to review the disgusting and disturbing details here. We all have read, seen pictures and videos, of the Ephraimite fundamentalist priest and his alleged Peruvian lover. Such a dichotomy. A “schizophrenic” type of spirituality that preaches that sex amongst married people is only for having babies (a basic Ephraimite teaching). Yet at the same time, this fundamentalist Ephraimite Priest was reported to have had many sexual liaisons with his “God-daughter” and allegedly impregnating her. Perhaps if he was never brainwashed by Elder Ephraim’s teaching, he might have enjoyed a healthier relationship with his wife and this would never have happened!

In his farewell message, Passias seemed to display more of his ego by using phrases that Christ used to forecast his farewell to the disciples. Let us compare the two to show his arrogance.

John 13:33 “Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.”

Passias on Sept. 28, 2015: “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… Please do not ask where I am going and where I will be.”

Some would say he was speaking in “Priest mode”. But the arrogance is also vividly displayed by his statement that it is “God’s will”. This is mind-blowing.

I don’t believe for a second that it was God’s will that he should have a Peruvian mistress! The consequences of his actions are a direct result of when he violated God’s will. Period! He made his departure sound almost noble, instead of candidly stating he made huge mistakes for which he takes responsibility and deeply apologizes. His statement lacks any contrition, for nowhere does he say “I am sorry”. He only states that this was at the direction of his spiritual father, Elder Ephraim. It is now clearly evident that Elder Ephraim’s toxic movement has allegedly been behind the scenes in numerous scandalous issues within our Church.

Even though Passias was defrocked, this did not heal the many wounds perpetrated on the Laity whose complaints have been ignored by many Hierarchs. Our Hierarchs have been called on many times to address issues, but they never seem to get around to it. In an article of The National Herald titled “Holy Eparchial Synod Defrocks Passias in Unanimous Vote” (October 13th 2015), a comment was made that addresses this:

The same people that voted “unanimously” to defrock him, are exactly the same people that transferred him from one community to the next so he could do the same over and over in different parishes. They did the same with Katinas (and many more) if you remember. Pedophiles, sex offenders, funds mismanaged (for own use) are ALL under the protective umbrella of the metropolitans (Holly Synod), unless they become public. Then the punishment is swift. To identify the people that are responsible for many cover ups and should be held accountable one has to do this simple thing. Please scroll up and look at the picture (ten of them).

Metoikos
October 14th 2015, 6:01pm.

Let’s look more closely at some of the other incidents this author points to:

Fr. Dokos

Here is a recent case about allegations of financial improprieties by one of our Priests involving significantly large amounts. Pokrov.org gives a good account of this: “The case of Fr. James Dokos, former presiding priest of the Annunciation Parish in Milwaukee has brought to light once again a lack of leadership in the Greek Orthodox Church, on the Archdiocesan and Metropolis levels.”(Personally, I believe that our Metropolitans do not seem too concerned about what the Archbishop of America thinks, does this suggest the Patriarch’s lack of concern?) The Milwaukee DA has charged Dokos with theft of trust funds, and has warned Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos about his attempt to “interfere with the judicial process.” http://www.pokrov.org/dokos-case-shows-lack-church-leadership-skill/There is much more on this to be found at http://www.pokrov.org/?s=dokos&submit.x=0&submit.y=0 Fr. Dokos is still a priest. Although he was suspended, he has served in liturgies in various churches. The felony trial for these alleged financial improprieties is scheduled for 5 January 2016, after being postponed several times for “health reasons.”

In The National Herald (TNH) article “Archdiocese Suspends Fr. Passias” (October 7th 1015) the following comment appeared regarding Fr. Dokos:

Over the past two years, Demetrios of Mokissos of the Metropolis of Chicago has [allegedly] attempted to cover up criminal theft by a priest he received money from as “gifts”. This Bishop has gone as far as [allegedly] to “intimidate witnesses” to avoid an investigation, resulting in a warning by the District Attorney of Wisconsin. All reported by the National Herald, yet what has the Archdiocese done to “demonstrate our Faith” in a response offered. No response at all. In fact, business as usual at The Metropolis of Chicago.

I guess it wasn’t salacious enough to catch worldly attention. Sadly it takes a scandal this embarrassing for the Archdiocese to act and issue statements. As for the immoral behavior by other unfit leaders in the Diocese, the Archdiocese is fully aware, but no action or statements. It’s business as usual.

Nicholau
October 7th, 2015, 11:48 PM

If the injury by this priest has not damaged the Church and Greek Orthodox parishioners enough, it has been reported that Fr. Dokos has been conducting liturgies as a guest at some parishes in the Chicago Metropolis, to which he can only have been assigned by the Chancellor. Who is the Chancellor you may ask yourself? The very same Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos of the Metropolis of Chicago who is alleged to have received funds from Fr. Dokos and who has been warned to not intimidate witnesses. As was said, business as usual.

These comments are all verified at http://www.pokrov.org/?s=demetri+mokissos&submit.x=0&submit.y=0 as well as in articles posted on major Chicago and Milwaukee daily newspapers. One problem after another is dealt with by sweeping under the rug, and all get mashed together in the minds of our people because they never seem to be addressed properly. Is it any wonder that Parishioners are deeply disillusioned?

But wait, there’s more…

Fr. Recachinas

Back to disturbing sexual improprieties. Pokrov states “Protopresbyter Demetrios Recachinas is a married priest with children. …. In 2011 … according to the National Herald, the priest resigned under pressure from a group of parishioners who had evidence that he [allegedly] solicited male truck drivers for sex at rest areas of an interstate highway.” http://www.pokrov.org/persons/protopresbyter-demetrios-recachinas/ . Here is the actual story from The National Herald: http://d2nifm1cv5sv16.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/714.pdf

Fr. Recachinas is still a priest, (as listed the 2015 GOA Yearbook) and is currently unassigned. Why not defrock him? This is another example of GOA actions providing more reasons for leaving to people who have lost faith in the institutional function and spineless leadership of the Church.

Fr. Adam Metropoulos

Another Greek Orthodox Priest was arrested on September 2014 and later found guilty (March 17th, 2015) of serious child sex charges. http://www.pokrov.org/?s=Metropoulos&submit.x=0&submit.y=0

Fr. Adam Metropoulos was finally defrocked after inflicting great harm upon our faithful and the Church. Your Editors know that he was in the Seminary in 1980-1981. He was allegedly asked to leave the Seminary for similar accusations. Yet he reappears years later to continue his predilections on unsuspecting parishioners. Why isn’t anyone talking about that? Why was he not barred from ever becoming a priest and having access to children?

He was asked to leave the Seminary for alleged improper behavior with children. But this guy was able to return years later and was ultimately ordained. If the Seminary had been doing its job properly, this would have never happened. If the Seminary had been doing its job properly, a reasonable person would think that many children would not have been violated. Who is minding the store gentlemen? What is going on here?

These are recent examples of all manners of disturbing improprieties occurring within parishes of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. These are just the ones we know of because they have been brought to the fore in mainstream media. It is shameful. The shame is compounded to the many good Priests out there. Because of these bad apples, all are tainted.

How and why is this reoccurring? On the one hand, no institution is immune from a fallen humanity. Schools at every level, different denominations and faiths, sports, and individuals from all walks of life, all may have bad apples. But the GOA, considered by many to be a major religious institution, should be proactive about minimizing these occurrences. If not, people will leave in droves, voting with their feet. That is exactly what is happening now! People are leaving the Church as never before. Only a fool would believe they are not. Yet even this fact too is being covered up by not making the statistics known in a transparent way to assist in understanding the problem.

Our churches in Chicago are in a pathetic state of turmoil. So many of us have taken to lighting a candle and praying at home. Our young people have turned to unaffiliated Christian churches where they feel a sense of community…
Artemis Deer (Sociologist)
October 6th 2015 9:12 PM
Facebook Group Concerned Orthodox Laity of America (C.O.L.A.)

The question is why? What is happening to our Church in the United States (if not beyond)?

Denial, Lack of Attention/Concern, and Deflection (standard GOA operating procedure)

A young monk named Scott Nevins complained to his parents about the cruel and unhealthy treatment he was getting at Saint Anthony’s Monastery in Arizona. He ultimately left that monastery and later, became despondent and allegedly shot himself in the head at the monastery gates. One would have thought that there would have been a universal outcry and investigation. Especially since there have been many who have complained about numerous other similar occurrences there. Because no statement of concern has been given by our Hierarchs, many reasonable people have concluded that he did not take his own life. Who could blame them?

In the article of The National Herald, titled “Archdiocese Suspends Fr. Passias” (Oct. 7th 2015) discussed above, this lack of concern was addressed by someone who clearly saw the connection with Ephraim:

They [our Hierarchs] turn a blind eye…maybe because of money? Who knows? What we do know is the Ephraimite fundamentalist movement has run rampant in the Chicago Metropolis because the Metropolitan and Bishop of Chicago have allowed it. They are to blame for priests like Passios that continue doing damage to the faithful and the church. Stories of Ephraimite priests driving the faithful away are very abundant in the Chicago Metropolis. Michael Jaharis, a prominent lay person in New York brought the Ephraim issue to the forefront in America and pushed to create a task force to investigate. I have heard that the task force received very little if any cooperation from Greek Orthodox Church leaders and they have not been able to do much. Probably money is behind the roadblocks.

Nicholau
October 8th, 2015, 11:34 PM

We know that there was a Monastery Task Force (renamed as the Monastery Review Committee (MRC)). According to The National Herald, the MRC was empowered in October of 2010. Where is their report? Where is this report that we have been waiting for 5 years? What are the reasons they are burying this? Reasonable people will conclude that our Hierarchs are burying this for any number of reasons. If the MRC did not find anything wrong, then this would have certainly been announced. But like so many other scandalous issues, there is a deafening silence. Our Shepherds appear to be looking the other way while wolves in monk’s rasa ravage the flock.

Jaharis acknowledged the problem regarding the relationship of various monasteries to the Church. ……Some time ago,” he added, “a Committee was formed to review and examine several such matters and rumors of transgressions. However, in spite of suspicions of irregularities and improprieties, the lack of cooperation made it almost impossible for the Committee to further act beyond initial observations. In the meantime, despite this lack of cooperation, we continue our efforts to determine more specifically what irregularities and improprieties exist and what we can do to eliminate them.”
TNH article “Michael Jaharis on Growing the Church in America”
Sunday, July 20, 2014

These monasteries are the ones directed by the “Elder” Ephraim, a monk who has established some 18 monasteries in the United States and Canada. Jaharis said that the work of an Archdiocese committee charged with examining the problems was being obstructed.
TNH article “Jaharis Spoke about Monasteries-Church, a Year Ago…”
Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Vice Chairman of the GOA clearly states that the work of the Committee is being obstructed. That is a HUGE statement! But no one is listening. Why hasn’t there been a report by the Monastery Review Committee? Are our Hierarchs afraid of what will be revealed? It is no wonder that many people feel disillusion and dismay with our Hierarchs. Good people typically will not fight when they see a hopeless attitude (because they see the futility in rearranging the furniture on the Titanic), so they walk away. Who wants to deal with Ephraimites? But walking away from this fight only leaves Ephraimites in the Church. They have been militant and have hurt our Church beyond what our Hierarchs appear to have acknowledged. The hierarchs’ silence is loudest as they are the ones with the information, and can be honest about what afflicts our Church so all of us can feel good about helping wherever we can.

Typical of many of the militant supporters of Elder Ephraim, there have been allegations that anyone critical of Ephraim is either anti-monastic, or, influenced by the devil. This was vivid in the public reactions regarding Passias. The National Herald has published an opinion piece entitled “As a Child of St. Spyridon, I am Appalled” (10/9/15) http://www.thenationalherald.com/101718/ . Here the author expresses disgust over what has happened with Passias. Even though Passias admitted his improprieties, an apparent Ephraimite supporter posted the following public comment in The National Herald:

One of the photos is obviously “photo shopped” with the outlines of the super imposed image clearly visible; therefore I have to question the credibility of this mysterious “source”. In addition, after supposedly HOURS of secret liaisons and tawdry tapes, we’re provided with thirty-six SECONDS of some goofy fetish, where one cannot see, or identify the woman’s face…. Finally, let me remind readers that not so long ago there was a Bishop in Greece who was accused of fiscal improprieties, and after review by the Church leadership, was stripped of his ecclesiastical duties. He was later accused of sexual relations with a nun(s). Ultimately, all of the accusations proved to be false. That Bishop was Saint Nektarios of Aegina.
Armodios Papagianakis
October 13th, 2015 at 10:56 PM

This man is one of the many thousands who follow (or are sympathetic) to Fr. Passias and Elder Ephraim. You get a clear picture of this blind militancy when he openly stated that the pictures in the NY Post were “Photoshopped” (manipulated by a computer program) and that Fr. Passias is being falsely accused as was Saint Nektarios. Imagine that! Comparing Passias with Saint Nektarios! What is scary is that thousands of people have followed Fr. George Passias. The question is “Why?” How could this have been allowed to happen? On the one hand, Passias was a dynamic and charismatic priest. On the other hand, yet another reader of The National Herald comments (see below) how this is intertwined with the Elder Ephraim’s movement.

Again the Church faces a crisis and we have people attempting to discredit the messenger but not the admitted wrongdoer. The Ephraimite movement has generated those who are now so spiritually obedient that they submissively put forth false information to protect one of their own. Personally I am appalled at the use of a saint to make someone who is so far from the normal behavior of a civilized human, let alone a Christian, look better.
Basil312
October 13th 2015, 5:57 PM
(Comments from TNH Article “As a Child of St. Spyridon, I am Appalled)

In case anyone is wondering if this incident (Fr. Passias allegedly impregnating his Peruvian lover) is unique the only thing of concern, think again. Others have taken this opportunity to bring up how Passias infected parishes with his Ephraimite doctrines. It took this disgusting event to be publicized in the mainstream media to get people to open up. On Facebook, a group called “Concerned Orthodox Laity of America (C.O.L.A.)” posted various posts by two courageous women on the September 28th 2015, 6:44 PM in response to an article by Yianni Pappas entitled “He’s Back”:

When Fr Passias was Chancellor of the GOA under Archbishop Spyridon, he had one of Ephraim’s clergy leaders sent to my cousin’s Parish in the suburbs of Chicago. That resulted in a civil war inside the Parish. A pattern that is now commonplace within our Church every time they transfer an Ephraimite problem instead of showing these religious freaks the door. Thanks to that one transfer, the Ephraimite cancer has spread like wildfire throughout the Metropolis of Chicago.

Since so many Laity were sounding the warning signs about Passias why did it finally take a [an alleged] confession to bring about the suspension? I have a couple of things for all of us to think about. First, why does our Hierarchy treat the laity like inconsequential beings? Secondly, why is it that we have a large undereducated class of [Ephraimite] laity that supports these carriers that pervert our Faith in the name of the Ephraimite movement?

How many canons does a Priest have to violate in our Church before the Hierarchy takes notice and do their jobs? People are leaving as there is a breakdown in respect for the institution. I understand why people leave. I do not blame anyone for getting off the “Titanic” before it sinks. All the wonderful people that have abandoned the rest of us are not the guilty parties here. Those that stay and fight for the truly sick (i.e. the Ephraimites for example) are the ones killing our Church. Passias had a group of young people follow him as he tried to intimidate those that brought up matters to the Hierarchs. Shame on anyone reading this that has perpetuated an Ephraimite Clergyman or a dysfunctional Hierarch!
Stella Theodore
September 29 at 4:32pm

Fr. Passias gave me the willies 30 years ago. That he was allowed to continue as a priest all of this time is a disgrace and proves that our hierarchy has no desire to fix anything.

Cleonike Macris Ziogas
October 4th, 12:16 PM

Let me state that I wholeheartedly believe that clearly our Metropolitans in the GOA consistently ignore problems and this causes many good people to leave. It is a simple, easy to understand, chain-reaction. It’s easy to understand that sometimes people do stupid things. But people will not understand why their leaders consistently “do not care” and “do nothing”. Do our executive leaders think that if they address a particular issue, they are giving it credibility? Do they think by not acknowledging clear problems that they will “go away?” Does their claim that that these issues should be addressed internally (allowing them to be covered up) have any merit? Maybe in some circumstances, but not all. I strongly believe that the ability of our GOA Metropolitans to discern wrongful action has been severely handicapped by their ego and arrogance. To me it follows that this speaks to the Hierarchs’ contempt of the Laity itself.

“So Fr. Passias was defrocked, but why aren’t other clergymen involved in inappropriate conduct defrocked as well? “You should ask the Synod,” [Bishop] Andonios said. “I am not a member of the Synod. Only they know the answer.””

TNH article Archdiocesan Chancellor tells TNH Passias’ Mistress 4 Months Pregnant
Friday, October 16, 2015

We can hope and pray that our Hierarchs become more candid and own up to their successes and failures. Perhaps this latest issue with George Passias’s defrocking is a tipping point. But then again we said that about the monk Scott Nevins’ suicide also. Talk about the 300 pound gorilla, or the 1000 pound elephant in the room. It’s there. Wake up. Talk, discuss, and post/write your concerns.

FINALLY! The next step is for the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese of America to apologize to all those people who for years brought these matters up to the proper and the responsible individuals in the Church and were treated HORRIBLY. Perhaps the word responsible needs to be defined? Its meaning seems to have been forgotten. It means “having an OBLIGATION to do something, or having control over or care for someone or something, as part of one’s job or role”. Clearly the Hierarchy of our Church have lost control. They no longer lead, only react to issues. The reaction is way too late and the damage done is excessive and irreversible. People that bring matters to their attention are treated as being against the Church (“Para tis Ekklesia”). Fr. George Passias was “Spiritual Father” to thousands. WHY? To me this fact alone is more disturbing than anything else. He was placed in a position to form and distort the minds of our Laity. Reading the posts by his supporters where they have lost touch with reality and make him the victim and the Church and the women the cause of his downfall is ridiculous. The absurdity in their posts and arguments is inane and nonsensical. He has admitted these allegations, so why do they continue to spread falsehoods to protect him?
Basil312, October 14th 2015, 12:08 PM
in response to TNH article “Holy Eparchial Synod Defrocks Passias in Unanimous Vote” (10/13/15)

I have used the comments of many concerned people in my response to your article. I have clearly shown the multifaceted nature and multifarious effects of the Passias incident. Passias was himself damaged by the ridiculous Ephraimite teachings which really compromise the healthy nature of sex in marriage. And he’s a Priest! Imagine how people NOT trained in theology will be hurt! How many other people has he infected? How many others are spreading this Ephraimite Fundamentalist nonsense? It goes to the core of who we are. We are not fundamentalists! Even the fundamentalists like Fr. Passias could not adopt the fundamentalist teachings of Elder Ephraim and remain healthy. Is anyone really surprised our Church is suffering? Unless action is taken to dismiss this Ephraimite scourge, things in our Church will only get worse.

I believe that our Metropolitans need to be more transparent and open about these (and other) issues. Our Metropolitans need to communicate with us as a sign of respect and love for their Laity and for the good of the Church. If the Hierarchs fail to act candidly and forthrightly, the Laity must be persistent in bringing these issues up. If we don’t speak up, if our Metropolitans continue to stonewall us and treat us like complete idiots, even more people will be hurt, and more families will leave. We urge all to stay vocal. Stay active. Voice your concerns. Pray for our church. We have a long way to go before we can consider ourselves “healthy”.