Source: The National Herald
By Theodore Kalmoukas
BOSTON. – Patriarch Bartholomew has moved to change the administration of the scandal-scarred Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou in Astoria, permanently ousting Metropolitan Paisios of Tyana, charged with sex abuses, and also Bishop Vikentios, who has no involvement in sex allegations. There has been a snag though because of technicalities in the structure and state laws governing such institutions, as well as the charter given by the Patriarchate. A meeting was scheduled for Jan. 21 at which the changes were to be made. The National Herald learned that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew directed a meeting be held in New York on Jan. 21 under the chairmanship of Metropolitan Theoliptos of Ikonion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the only one who can convene the meeting as Chairman of the Legal Corporation of the Stavropegial Patriarchal Monastery of Saint Irene, and to reclassify its members.
TNH has learned that Metropolitan Paisios, who was the Abbot, through the recommendation by the Patriarchate, sent a proxy to acting Abbot Bishop Elias of Philomelion authorizing him to represent him at the meeting. Legal problems arose, however, as to the validity of Paisios’ proxy since he has resigned from his positions of Abbot, and the Monastic Brotherhood of the Monastery. The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate accepted his resignations and issued an official communique.
The Chairman of the Corporation is Metropolitan Theoliptos of Ikonion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and the members are Metropolitan Paisios and Bishop Vikentios, who is still the secretary of the Corporation. It was not clear if Metropolitan Theoliptos will come to the United States or will send a representative. TNH has learned that Metropolitan Nikitas of Dardanelia may stand in his place. Metropolitan Nikitas was the head of the three-persons Patriarchal Exarchy team, which came to New York to investigate charges of sexual abuse against Paisios raised by a number of individuals of both sexes.
TNH has learned that the Patriarch has instructed that Paisios be replaced by Bishop Elias of Philomelion and that the Corporation, through the two hierarchs, Theoliptos or his representative and Elias, will remove Bishop Vikentios and then extend the composition of the Legal Entity (Corporation) of the Monastery. The nominees of the Patriarchate are: Commander of the Order of St. Andrew Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate Dr. Anthony Limberakis, a Greek-American lawyer from Texas and a Greek-American from New York.
The intentions of Bishop Vikentios of Apameia, who continues to reside at the church of St. Nektarios in Brooklyn, are unknown. Asked by TNH if he was planning to attend the meeting, he said: “I know nothing about any such meeting.”
The properties of the Monastery, namely the church of Saint Irene at 36 -07 23rd Street in Astoria, and an office opposite the church, the Monastery building at 42-11 Ditmars Boulevard in Astoria, are registered on the legal Corporation which consists of the Stavropegic and Patriarchal Monastery of Saint Irene under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate under New York law. The same applies for the other nine Dependencies across America, each of which is a separate legal entity registered in the state where the physical location of the churches dwells. The Dependency of the Ascension in Florida, for instance, is registered as a legal entity there. Metropolitan Paisios and Bishop Vikentios are both officers of the Legal Corporations of the Dependencies. The administrative restructuring under way in the Monastery will also change the Constitution granted by the Patriarchate. There will no longer be the Abbot’s Committee as is the case with Monasteries, but a sort of Board of Directors and its members will be appointed and dismissed by the Patriarch. A similar structure has been established at the Monastery of St. Anastasia, which is located just outside Thessaloniki and belongs to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
A LOT OF CASH
The new administrative rules will prohibit the blessing of the sacraments in the church of St. Irene in Astoria, and the membership dues that financially sustain the Monastery. Sources told TNH that if the blessing of sacraments and the membership dues will not be permitted at the Dependencies, they will not be able to survive economically.
Metropolitan Paisios, in a letter, claimed that the $280,000 in cash which former nun Christonymphi, took to the 114th Police Station in Astoria on Nov. 6, 2010 was left to him by his mother, although he earlier said it was to be used to rebuild the third floor of the Monastery. Paisios’ lawyers reportedly are trying to get the money back. Bishop Vikentios, in an interview with TNH on Dec. 18 and 19, 2010, said that “This money is not his own; it belongs to the Monastery which can clam it from the Police based upon the Charter given to the Monastery by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
Initially, the Patriarchate allowed Paisios to resign and offered him “ecclesiastical leniency,” and then he was suspended, but TNH has learned Metropolitan Nikitas of Dardanellia sent a letter to a meeting of the Patriarchal Synod of January 11, recommending punishment for Metropolitan Paisios, stating that people were asking: “What kind of a punishment was that to Paisios?” Nikitas suggested that the Patriarchate should take “a more serious decision about Paisios,” who sent a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew wishing him Happy Holidays and requesting permission to receive Holy Communion on Christmas and also to be granted an audience. The Patriarchate told Paisios that he is prohibited from receiving Holy Communion and would not be received for now. The Synod referred the issue of the Chrysovalantou Monastery to the Canonical Committee “for study and recommendation.” The issue will be discussed again in the Feb. 10 session of the Synod.
The suggestion was made by Metropolitan Panteleimon of Tyrolois and Selention Professor Emeritus of the Canon Law of the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki. The Canonical Committee consists of Metropolitan Panteleimon and Serention Chairman, Metropolitan Iakovos of Prigipos, Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia, Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima and Archimandrite Elpidophoros as Secretary.
Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, who served as Acting Abbot for a brief period of time, sent two letters to the Ecumenical Patriarchate about Bishop Vikentios. In the last letter dated Jan. 7, 2011. Evangelos wrote that Vikentios stirs up people, that he delivers sermons against the Patriarchate, won’t obey the order of the Synod to leave the United States, froze the accounts of the Monastery and behaved in an irreverent manner when he arrived at St. Nectarios Church in Brooklyn on Dec. 6, 2010. Bishop Vikentios also had sent a letter to Patriarch Bartholomew and the Synod, complaining that when he arrived at St. Nectarios Church, Evangelos had brought a locksmith to change the locks to his room and that the police nearly arrested Evangelos for trespassing. Vikentios requested permission to sue Paisios, but the Synod decided to send him a letter telling him that would not be allowed. Some members of the Synod said that Vikentios should leave the U.S. but Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit intervened and said, “Where is he going to go?” and the issue remained unresolved. Complaints were expressed about Bishop Elias of Philomelion that he has not written any report as yet about the situation at the Monastery.