Make Way for the Syosset Sex Czar! — Part 1

DID SYOSSET MISS THE MEMO?

Is this the face of the Syosset Sex Czar?

Loius XV (Click to enlarge)

You know a bureaucracy is in decline when it becomes tone deaf. The deafness descends when the leadership becomes divorced from the original mission of the institution and cultivates an exaggerated sense of self-importance.

Take the Ancien Regime for example. Louis XV famously declared “apre moi l’deluge” (after me the flood), a tacit declaration of the chaos to come but hobbled nonetheless by a corruption so advanced he could do nothing stop it. Reform came after a fashion but soon after so did the Terror. In the meantime Louis doubled down on what he knew best, outlandish parties, a bevy of mistresses, and other expressions of wanton excess.

I want to believe that our Church’s central administraton is not as short-sighted or small-minded as the French aristocracy, but I can’t.

Nope, like Louis they too doubled down. Welcome the latest itteration of wretched overreach: The Syosset Sex Czar.

Here’s the plan: Syosset wants to allocate over $100,000 per year to appoint a man who ostensibly will investigate and perhaps adjudicate all claims of clergy sexual misconduct. According to the job description, the Sex Czar arrogates unto himself all charges of sexual malfeasance, will develop programs about sexual abuse, and reports to “central administration” (Syosset) and the bishops.

It doesn’t stop there. Syosset also wants to hire investigators on a case by case basis. No mention is made of the cost outlays for this position. (My guess? Most employees in Syosset make over $100,000 per year and their appointees will as well. So figure at least $200,000 for salaries and expenses minimum.)

MISPLACED PRIORITIES

Syosset did not hear the delegates at the last AAC who unequivocally voiced their displeasure at Syosset’s overreach in years past. They don’t understand that the elimination of the despised “head tax” (and its feathering of the Syosset nest) was a repudiation of Syosset’s over-centralized leadership and their ham-fisted domination of Church affairs. The don’t know that their ambitions for even greater centralization are incompatible with an autocephalous Church.

Or is Syosset really at war with the Bishops by usurping an authority that rightfully belongs to the Bishops alone?

Unfortunately, some regimes are beyond the capacity for introspection and self-renewal. It’s all about the paycheck. Bureaucrats usually double-down on what they know best — how to keep the offices open and facts and future be damned. In the case of the OCA, the central administration has decided to create two new offices at a time in which many businesses and philanthropic organizations are tightening their belts and letting people go.

The official titles for self-perpetuating officialdom are never called “Sex Czar” or “Inquisitor-General” of course. Instead, they are called a “facilitator” and “investigator” — titles vague enough to elicit wonder and awe in the unitiated — Mom, apple pie, and all that. It’s all part of the allure. But there are no reasons offered if a facilitator and investigator are even necessary, or even if there were why Syosset should be put in charge of it all.

Nothing is more inflammatory or potentially damaging than a charge of sexual misconduct by a priest. Sexual malfeasance does indeed occur and must be handled with extreme care for the victim and the accused.

Futhermore, there is nothing in the Metropolitan Council Minutes approving the establishment of the two positions, and even if there were, The MC does not have the authority to create Syosset positions apart from the approval of the AAC.

The reality is that as Christian denominations go, the overwhelming majority of the men in the OCA priesthood are pretty decent fellows. I try to keep my ear close to the ground and I’ve heard precious little about predation, adultery, homosexuality, and other vices. To my knowledge there are only five active investigations going on right now, and one of them involved actions which allegedly took place over thirty years ago. The other four do not deal with minors at all.

Make no mistake: one act of predation against a child is one too many and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Consensual sex between a priest and another adult is certainly to be avoided but it is not a criminal act and should be dealt with by ecclesiastical remedies imposed by the priest’s bishop It does not necessitate an all-expenses paid visit from functionaries based in Syosset. If the bishop evinces a continuing pattern of ignorance or apathy, then maybe they need a new bishop. Even the dullest bishop tends to wake up if necessary. But is Syosset really the cure?

IS SYOSSET EVEN AWARE OF WHAT A SEX CZAR ENTAILS?

Clearly the powers that be have not given much thought to this project but that need not stop us. Let’s think about what a Sex Czar entails:

  • First, in a church like the OCA which has a shrinking financial base, where would the money for this office come from?
  • Second, how much money would be allocated (above and beyond the salaries in question) for travel and accommodations? To be sure, it’s only a day’s drive from Syosset to Connecticut, but what about Alaska or Hawaii? Should we really assume that the Sex Czar or his private investigator would hop on the next plane to Anchorage and then take the necessary kayak trip up the Kuskokwim River to some remote parish? Or would they coordinate the investigation via the internet while they shuffle papers on their desks?
  • Third, why do the people in Syosset even assume that a bishop would even allow one of these men to come to his diocese? If the bishop is looking into an allegation of abuse of sexual malfeasance, why would he welcome interference from Syosset given Syosset’s inability to maintain confidences and its record of interference in episcopal affairs?

    These are not trivial considerations. Bishops are rightly protective of their diocesan privileges and responsibilities and the Sex Czar would necessarily blur diocesan distinctions and episcopal responsibilities. Are the bishops even on board with this? I doubt it.

  • Fourth, who will decide the credentials of these officials? Let’s be honest, the previous Metropolitan Council did not cover itself with glory. They can’t even police their own. When credible allegations of moral turpitude and conflict of interest were brought forth against a sitting lay member they chose to do nothing. When this same individual was publishing stories on his website gleaned from confidential Metropolitan Council proceedings, no action was taken. When he published stolen emails from a priest in order to do maximum damager to the Metropolitan, the Council did nothing. And when he published a speech given by the Metropolitan to the Holy Synod, nothing was done.

    As for the Metropolitan Council itself, when it was found out that certain of its members were involved in an active conspiracy against the Metropolitan, no action was taken. Even a lengthy ethics complaint from a respected archpriest against the perpetrator was ignored. In the end, it took a bishop to unilaterally put a stop to the conflicts of interests perpratored by the Council member in question.

    Moreover, the activities of some in the administration bears further scrutiny. As mentioned earlier, the veracity of the SMPAC report was suspect from the start because it highlighted only those cases which made the Metropolitan look as inept as possible. Credible allegations against other individuals who were not under the omorphor of the Metropolitan were studiously ignored. Given these facts, why should we believe that the same people perpetrating the fraud are at all qualified to examine the fitness of others?

  • Fifth, who would this man report to? Let’s be frank, the present administrative hierarchy of the OCA is a muddled mess. Besides the Holy Synod, there’s a Lesser Synod, a Metropolitan Council, and the central administration in Syosset. If anybody could draw me a coherent flow chart, I’d be most grateful.
  • Sixth, what if credible allegations of sexual misconduct are brought against priests in the central administration? Men whose offices are right down the hallway from the Sex Czar, men who control the purse strings? Would “prosecutorial discretion” kick in at that point?
  • Finally, there is always the problem of personal vendettas. Do we really trust Syosset to handle these claims responsibly? Remember, this is the same crew who doctored a report (the Sexual Misconduct or SMPAC report) just a few short years ago to smear our sitting First Hierarch. They don’t exactly inspire confidence. Will Syosset use accusations to drag the Church into internal warfare like the Stokovites did?

To be brutally honest, this looks like another example of bureaucratic featherbedding. It is also a way to to turn back the reproach and funding restrictions that blindsided Syosset functionaries at the last AAC in Seattle. Think of it in military terms: Syosset is regrouping their forces and they think that appeals to protecting children will convince the gullible to go along with it.

Make no mistake: The decisions in Seattle were a stinging repudiation of the status quo. The delegates wanted a different future for the OCA with distinct diocesan boundaries and all that that entails. This was fueled not only by Syosset’s complicity in the attack against our First Hierarch, but also by the exposure of off-budget line items that served other closeted elites. One such item involved a hidden salary totaling over $140,000. It was a humiliating revelation but everyone saw that Syosset sure knows how to take of its own.

What makes us think that we can trust Syosset with our dollars when they choose not one but two new bureaucrats for offices they created and for which they write the job descriptions? Do they think we are stupid? Apparently so.

Syosset should not forget that in a free society, people vote with their feet — and their wallets.

Next Up — The Effect of the Sex Czar on the Priesthood

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Comments

  1. C Matley says

    While the financial issue should be enough to give anyone pause, no one will dare speak out against the “scourge” of sexual misconduct for mere money. It will be argued that their $100,000 spent here will pale in comparison to a million dollar lawsuit lost.

    You state that the bishops may not be on board. While we may not have the brightest bunch of bishops, they’re smart enough to avoid appearing unsupportive and uncooperative in these delicate matters. They also see a convenient out in this position. Yet another task they don’t have to do in their diocese. They can simply hand the perpetrator over to the Sex Czar and let the machinery take care of it.

    There are a few people, true believers in this matter, that have set the agenda. “Clean up” the OCA, and the current malaise will go away. (“God’s blessing has left the OCA because of rampant sexual misconduct among the clergy.”) Why else would they investigate closed cases and re-open all of those old wounds? The Sex Czar is the “final solution” to put the OCA back into the good graces of the hearts and minds of American Orthodox believers. Get the OCA’s house in order by getting rid of dirty clerics.

    I think the greatest loss in this particular blunder will be the the diminishing sense of pastoral sensitivity and compassion among the bishops. These are men who are already seen as being almost completely disconnected from common sense. Apparently in the OCA, the church is no longer the hospital for recovering sinners, it’s the sanitized hall of the righteous remnant.

    • George Michalopulos says

      CM, you bring up an interesting point: that the bishops may simply “hand over” the offending priest to the Sex Czar. Perhaps some bishop may be on board with this, especially if he’s of the Col Klink type of administrator. However, as we shall explore in Part 2, this option is not without legal consequences for the bishop. And anyway, it’s not canonical. It creates an intermediary between a bishop and his priest.

      anyway, even if it does pass, it’ll be one of the first things jettisoned by the other jurisdictions as the price for admission to a united American Church. ROCOR for one (God bless ’em) would never do something this stupid.

      • George,

        “It isn’t canonical” that is a laugh. When did the OCA bishops consider their actions to be canonical, except as they define the canons?

        Helga has it right. CALL THE COPS. But, if a bishop is too weak or too compromised to deal with these issues, then they should resign.

        The OCA is dying and they think that a sex czar and sex cop will save them? When they start investigating bishops on the OCA synod, then I will believe it and I am not talking about Seraphim.

      • Thomas Mathes says

        The job description for the Coordinator does not include any language that suggests the authority to adjudicate cases nor to impose canonical penalties. This authority remains in the hands of the bishops. Likewise, this office does not interfere with the relationship between a bishop and his priests since the coordinator may provide a report to the bishops but has no authority to remove a priest from public ministry. That’s all up to the bishops. For the same reason, a bishop cannot hand off a priest to the coordinator for trial or punishment. That is not in the coordinator’s job description. Stay with the facts.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Thomas, that’s a very optimistic scenario you paint. I fully believe that the Sex Czar will become what the Inquisition became in the RCC. There’s no way to avoid mission creep. I wish I was wrong.

        • M. Stankovich says

          I agree with Mr. Mathes interpretation, but there is further clarification necessary. In any situation where there is accusation or suspicion of criminal conduct (e.g. child molestation), an “investigator,” dean, or bishop has no role in determining the veracity of the accusation. In other words, the only legitimate role is to gather details of the accusation or suspicion and present it to the civil authorities. The authorities will make the decision as to further action. In states where clergy are mandatory reporters, it is a crime not to respond in such a manner – and in my mind, it is the only appropriate moral response. For those who have never had the misfortune of witnessing a skilled litigator dismantle an otherwise confident, even “haughty” individual, who was woefully unqualified for the task of “investigator” and is now claiming “ignorance of the law” as a defense (which is no defense), be grateful. It would make you cringe. Literally.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Not to mention the manipulative skill of many sexual abusers.

            In cases where such things are revealed in confession if I were a member of the clergy I would assign as a penance that the person go with me to the police to report the crime right then.

            Then and only then could any real healing begin: one has taken responsibility for both the crime and the sin behind it.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            MS, you may be surprised to leaern that I agree with you. That’s why this office should devolve to the diocese.

            To all: I have recently found out that the RCC has these officers as well. However they only operate within the diocese and report to the diocesan ordinary. There is no outside interference.

            Bottom line: the more things we turn over to Syosset, the less necessary the diocesan bishop becomes. Hence our autocephaly ultimately becomes a dead letter.

    • M. Stankovich says

      C Matley,

      I believe that you need to consider what is most certainly not a fine point or subtlety between the hospital for “recovering sinners” and a haven and “hide out” for criminals. Perpetrators and their abetters would attempt to convince us that “compassion” is the appropriate course of action for sinners, “even unto seventy times seven.” But factually, in these cases “pastoral sensitivity,” lies solely and exclusively with the victims, and obedience to the civil obligation is the only moral choice.

      I am going to wager that there is plenty of room in the “sanitized hall of the righteous remnant” for dirty clerics and recovering sinners – and God count us among them! – but let justice be served first for the rest.

      • C Matley says

        You’re assuming that the sole focus of this effort is on criminal activity. It is not. In fact, the criminal element (child sexual abuse or assault on an adult) in cases that the OCA is speaking of is likely less than 1% of the total number of cases that they consider under this broad heading of sexual misconduct. No one is suggesting harboring or coddling criminals. Criminal matters should be handled by the police. Helga has already established a very simple, canonical, and common sense protocol.

        • M. Stankovich says

          I assumed no such thing. It is presumptuous of you to be “likely” as to any statistic to which you are not directly privy. And Helga’s common sense protocol is naive. A small example.

          I have filed reports of child molestation, domestic violence, and related sexual offenses (e.g adult sexual assault, possession of child pornography) in the both the civil and military systems and have been informed by child protective/fleet & family services or District Attorneys that investigations were “indeterminate”: insufficient evidence, witnesses could not be located, witnesses now “questioned” the accuracy of their recollection, victims admitted having “provoked” perpetrators and no longer wished to press charges, etc. All agencies believed the allegations to be true, but could not proceed. “Monitor and file again.” All in a day’s work.

          The alleged perpetrators deny criminal behaviour, are not exonerated, nor in my estimation are they “safe” to be around children, spouses, etc. but they remain nothing more than “suspect.” So, now what? They should return to their marital home? Stand in the altar of their parish (perhaps the same parish as their accuser)? A nearby parish; the Dean’s parish; or the Bishop’s cathedral? Mind you: these are not vague, questionable charges, and this is an individual in “the hospital for recovering sinners” but refuses to admit culpability, let alone repent. So, now what?

          My thought is that before you assign labels like “blunder” and conclude there are “established a very simple, canonical, and common sense protocol,” you would re-consider the enormity of the undertaking, the lives involved, and the integrity of the OCA that is at stake, and perhaps – retrospectively – it may well be worth every penny expended.

          • C Matley says

            Well then, since you’re an expert, you should apply for the job. You seem to be an expert in everything.

            • M. Stankovich says

              Aw, shucks, I’m blushing…

              God has not blessed me as an “original thinker,” one who creates concepts and who leads by wisdom and insight that derives from myself. I am blessed, and I must admit quite content, to have sat at the feet of such people, and I offer no apology for this distinction. Therefore, I struggle to keep my mind more open than my mouth, and try to limit speaking to what I know. As near as I can tell, an “expert” is someone who watched and listened, and probably never confused confrontation with insult.

          • InTheKnow says

            Hmm. The integrity of the OCA? Worth every penny? These guys lied about about the SMPAC report to try and get +Jonah. Why would anyone trust them around anyone else?

  2. Does the OCA really have so much sexual misconduct going on that we need a specific and permanent position in Syosset to deal with it?

    Here’s my comprehensive handbook on dealing with sexual misconduct, and I’ll even give it away for free:

    – If it involves church property/personnel and a minor child, call the police.

    – If it involves church property/personnel and non-consensual sexual acts, call the police.

    – If it involves church property/personnel and is immoral but not illegal (homosexual behavior or fornication), call the bishop.

    Duuuuuuuh.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Quick answer to your first question, Helga: No. It’s just featherbedding. They got embarrassed with paying the ex-Chancellor $134,000 for the year after he got fired (for doing what? “consulting”), so now they’re going to put pen to paper and actually come up with a makework job.

      It’s almost as hilarious as what happened last week on MSNBC when some LSD-addled “economist” put out the story that Obama has actually spent less per year than his predecessors.

    • M. Stankovich says

      It should be that easy. Take for example the of the statute of limitations. In CA, the statute of limitations is the one in place at the time the crime was committed, with two exceptions: aggrevated rape (involving a weapon, multiple victims, or serious injury to the victim) has no limit (“regular” sexual assualt has an SOL of 6 years); and if DNA evidence proves the identity of a rapist, there is no SOL. There is currently a ten year SOL for child molestation BUT it was amended to allow a one year SOL from the time a victim tells the police, extending beyond ten years. Go figure. The point is, the RC’s had a great number of historical cases dropped because of the SOL. It appears that luck will run out. For everyone.

      Secondly, NY, for example, is on the verge of defining clergy as “mandated reports” of child sexual abuse and suspected child sexual abuse (as are medical personnel, social workers, teachers, etc.). This means, for example, speaking with one’s bishop or “spiritual father” in confession or “in confidence” of child sexual abuse obligates that priest or bishop to immediately report the abuse or be subject to criminal charges. Two interesting cases are being conducted now: one in Philadelphia, where a priest in an administrative role is accused of covering up and conspiring to cover up child molestation – he claims he was following directives from the Cardinal, now deceased; and a bishop (I believe in Kansas) has been indicted for the same. The point here is that not only are there potential perpetrators, but there are those who abetted their criminal behaviour at stake as well.

      It seems to me to be beg the question, “Why would you need such laws and positions to obligate clergy to act in such morally responsible ways in the first place?” Ask the victims. A handful of abetters in jail with the perpetrates just might get the message across.

      • Roddy Diaz says

        This means that we can’t trust the bishops.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Respectfully Roddy, I must disagree. I for one believe that we should stick to canonical norms. So yes, I do trust our bishops. Notice that I said that if there is a bishop who is incapable for whatever reason of disciplining priests in his diocese, then the people need to get another bishop. To create a new agency because people in Syosset don’t trust the present crew of bishops is only going to make a problem worse.

          There are good people on the MC, but the intent behind its creation was suspect. We are told that Schmemann couldn’t trust the episcopate. so what’d he do? Essentially create a parallel episcopate.

          Regardless, if these positions come to fruition, it won’t end well. The organizational chart will be totally caterwampus.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        MS, this is all well and good, but just how big of a problem are we talking about in the OCA? I honestly don’t know of any single priests serving in secular parishes (there could be, but I don’t know of any). And anyway, the question remains: is this a problem or is this an attempt to create a solution in order to grow the bureaucracy? I’m leaning toward the latter.

    • Ditto, Helga.
      Criminal investigations are best handled by police, in fact there’s a moral obligation for the church to inform police of such accustaions and in many Western jurisdictions a legal obligation as well – I assume this applies in the US? Let the church address such matters through its already constituted spiritual courts.
      If this position is intended to advise the bishops, perhaps it is justifiable (but like you, I wonder, how much of this is going on that such a position is justified??), otherwise leave it to the authorities.
      George’s basic thrust is correct, I believe, this bespeaks an administration out of touch with its base.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        Excellent point Basil. From what I understand, the GOA has in place a policy in which the civil authorities handle all criminal claims and then if the accused if found guilty, he is turned over to an ecclesiastical court. That makes sense in that the attorneys general/district attorneys have way better resources than any of the Orthodox jurisdictions do.

        The more I think about it, the more it looks like a make-work position for some favored individual. I’m thinking one of the cabal that tried to get Jonah removed as Metropolitan.

        • StephenD says

          Couldn’t it also be someone that the Metropolitan wants to give a job to? Fr.David Brum?

          • another one says

            Or could it be someone that the Syosset staff, the Metropolitan Council or perhaps the Synod wants to give a job to? Do you really think the Metropolitan is driving this? Think again.

  3. Roddy Diaz says

    Nikos, what makes you think that the bishops would not be the subject of an investigation?

    • Seraphimist says

      Roddy, there is no way that bishops will ultimately escape the watchful eye of Syosset. If only priests are brought to book for indiscretions and no bishops are even when there are credible complaints, then the people will think that the game is rigged.

  4. Carl Kraeff says

    George-Regretfully, I think that your reaction is so over-the-top that you will end up hurting your cause. BTW, I thought that one of the goals of resetting was not to rehash old battles.

    • Old battles? The OCA made this a battle. They brought it forward. They have now opened up their Pandora’s Box.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Carl, I can see how somebody could consider this an “old point,” but the reality is that position is brand-spanking new. Personally, it looks like a powergrab to me.

    • George,

      I agree with Mr Kraeff. The Synod blessed this, so why not trust our bishops? It is not a power grab by anyone. This appears to be the culmination of the Synod educating itself on the legal realities. It is taking the most economical approach to a problem–by which I mean not having each diocese support it’s own misconduct officer.

      And I think misconduct is a problem. Whether true or not, allegations must be dealt with properly. It is too much to expect the bishops to be completely conversant with the various legal requirements. Try asking any of the episcopal candidates for the DOS to give you the misconduct reporting requirements for Texas, let alone all the other states. Misconduct never sleeps, and someone has to deal with it. Preferably someone who knows what he is doing.

      The suggestion that the bishops would never let such a person into the diocese is a little naive. If abusers were easy to spot, the world would be a better place for it. But this is not the case.

      I disagree with your assessment of the Metroplitan Council–particulaly the legal committee. Each member has a great reputation. Legal advice is not a problem for the MC.

      Finally, I strongly agree with Mr Kraeff that this essay does not help the reputation of this blog. There maybe reasonable grounds on which to critique the misconduct hire– like who will pay for it?–but attacking the purpose of the hire is unhelpful.

      As a final note, I remember the resolutions passed at Seattle resembled more of a whimper than a roar. The opportunity for meaningful change was scheduled into oblivion, just like at previous sobors.

      Regards,

      SAM

      • SAM, thank you for your reasoned argument. I will refrain from dealing with your argument re legal matters for Part 2. For now I will just address the others.

        1. “The most economical part.” It makes sense on a certain level to consolidate “services” in Syosset rather than parcel them out to the dioceses. But have we considered the possibility that this consolidation will wind up costing more than diocesan officers? The fellow in Syosset will have to have at least 50-60 state or provincial attorneys on retainer (remember, Canada, as well as the US). They’re not free. Wouldn’t it make more sense for each diocese to retain more of its moneys and appoint a trained pastor who is local to the diocese? This man could be an attorney and/or a psychologist. Instead of a six-figure salary, he could be given a stipend if the diocese is in financial distress. Most importantly, if he was a diocesan priest, he would be under the direction of the bishop.

        Please forgive me but this is sticking in my craw. When I joined the OCA, I did so because I thought it was an autocephalous Church. And because it was, no matter how bad things got in Syosset, the people in the pews in the dioceses were immune from the turmoil. That’s because we had bishops who enforced their boundaries. This is no small thing.

        2. You think that misconduct “is a problem.” On what do you base this on? Look, you may very well be right but frankly, there are no metrics at present to make this claim. If you know of any, please let us know. I may very well be ignorant and if I’m wrong, I’ll correct the record. And please don’t tell me “the SMPAC report”. The bits of it that were leaked to OCAN (an egregious, unethical act in and of itself) highlighted only certain individuals and studiously ignored others.

        3. “Misconduct never sleeps”? That’s a bold statement. If true, then not only is the bureaucratic machinery broken but the entire Church is mired in hopeless sin.

        4. I agree with you that abusers may “not be easy to spot.” But if a local person –a choir director, a Sunday School teacher, a cuckolded husband, or the local bishop–has difficulty spotting them, then what makes you think that a bureaucrat sitting in an office 1,500 miles away can do any better?

        5. I see that we agree that I at least had one basis for criticism, i.e. how will this be paid for? That’s a start and in fact, that’s where I started. But it’s not because I’m particularly parsimonious. It’s because I work in the private sector and I can tell you that every penny and every expenditure is being accounted for. I’m sorry but from where I sit, a Sex Czar overseeing a Church that spans an entire continent and eight time zones, peeking under the bed of every priest when there has been no hue and cry from the people about predatory priests seems very excessive.

        6. As for what happened in Seattle, only time will tell if the New York plan goes into ultimate effect and the head tax is reduced. If it’s not, then two things will happen: first giving will decrease significantly, and second, when the next AAC rolls around, the people will be even madder than they were in 2008 in Pittsburgh.

        7. For the sake of argument, I’ll take your word that the bishops “blessed this”. My question then becomes: what will happen when credible allegations against one of the their own are inspected? I suspect then that the Canons will be dusted off and we will be told what the real chain of command within the Church is. The question then becomes, why are the Canons being enforced in that case but in the case of the Sex Czar inserting himself into the chain of command that that’s OK? Make no mistake, the “advisory” capacity of the Sex Czar will in time become punitive and authoritarian. That’s what all bureaucracies do.

        • George,

          Thanks for your reply. I think it is better than the essay! Here are some thoughts about your points. As a general point, a lot of what drives these decisions and policies are the dictates of the insurance companies. These companies will only offer their product if the organization in question sets up certain policies and procedures. These policies are designed to minimize the insurance company’s (and its clients) exposure to liability. This is just good legal practice. So to get insurance, the OCA needs to comply. We have done the same at my home parish too.

          1. Fair points. I don’t know the costs of all of this. My thought is that it may save costs over all. As to serving at the direction of the bishop, if I were a bishop, I would want any misconduct investigation to be as independent as possible. Perhaps like the JAG defense counsel on a military base. Having a national office goes some way to achieving that.

          2. I think misconduct is a problem because a briefly look at the world shows that it is. In every other religious institution has allegations of misconduct. I don’t think the Orthodox are any more immune to this than others. We are talking allegations here, past and present, not proven cases. A quick call to the OCA chancery to ask about the volume of cases could answer this easily. I am sad to say you will probably find abusy misconduct office.

          3. Why say that? I don’t think an administrative apparatus is broken because it is not perfect. One has to manage ones expectations. And be prepared. Thankfully, there is always hope.

          4. I don’t think this. The misconduct policy doesn’t set up this situation. Furthermore, sometimes diocesan bishops are very far away from parts of their diocese. Does the DOS bishop in Dallas have a firm grasp on what is happening in the Ashland, VA? The bishop of the DOW in San Fran have a firm grasp of what is happening in Billings, MT? Distance is a problem for everyone.

          5. On what basis do you believe that the misconduct officer will be snooping under the bed of every priest? Isn’t this what is called a “straw man”?

          6. Your are right, time will tell.

          7. There is an on-point precedent for this: Archbishop Seraphim. What you describe did not happen here..

          Have a great day, George!

          SAM

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            SAM, lots to chew on here. I’d like to address point #3 only for now. I’m really concerned about the flow chart. I don’t see how we could get around this. More importantly however, you don’t address my concerns about previous corruption and malfeasance by certain actors in the MC. I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be obtuse but what guarantees do we have that the MC as an institution can act in good faith when the previous ones did not?

            I see your point about this being possibly driven by an insurance company; as such I have two questions: what is the P&P for the other jurisdictions? Are they similarly forced by their insurance companies to have a central person investigating these allegations and second, why are we such hostages to insurance companies? I really hate to insert this here, but the OCA (and other jurisdcitions) still have their priest’s insurance covered by companies that offer abortion services.

            Insurance companies need the business too. Why can’t we tell them to take out the abortion rider?

            • George:

              I am not sure I can address your MC concerns. I suspect only confidence building measures taken over time can rid people of their concerns. We have no more guarantee that MC members will act in good faith than we have that our bishops will do so. At the same time, we shouldn’t hold ourselves hostages to mistrust. Good will is better than well-crafted org charts.

              To be perfectly frank, you, George can play a hand in this. People read your blog. Essays like this one, however accurate, are not helpful. It fosters distrust. A more balanced critique of this issue would give more credibility to hard hitting opinion on other issues. It really is a credibility issue. I say this as a friend.

              Regarding insurance and other jurisdictions, I don’t know. It probably depends on how their insurance is set up. Here, I don’t think the insurance companies forced a particular set up. It just may have made more sense for parishes to insured through the OCA . Fr Tassos notes that many OCA church’s list the OCA (NY corporation) as the insured party. Fr Tassos’ comment also illustrates the benefit of contacting people involved with church administration to get additional facts for opinion pieces.

              I would not say we are hostages to the insurance companies. Churches have insurance for the same reason that lawyers, doctors, and other professionals have insurance. When the inevitable bad stuff happens, the insurance company will arrange for legal representation and pay out damages. Otherwise the beautiful cathedrals we build, the institutions we have built up over the years, could be sold off to pay those damages.

              As to the abortion issue. That is a different issue for another time.

              Cheers my friend,

              SAM

            • Michael Bauman says

              George, all health insurance forms have to be approved by the states in which they are sold. That includes the mandates of the state and federal government. The only types of plans that might be able to avoid such mandates are fully self-insured plans which means that the OCA would become, essentially, the insurance company and would pay out all covered claims . Even there, to meet ERISA laws, the plans have to cover some things whether or not the body being insured wants them. Multi-state plans are even more complicated. While there are plans out there that do not cover elective abortions, they may not be available in all states.

              No one, not even the largest corporations can simply write a plan they want. There are always mandates, rules and other requirements that have to be met to be a legal plan.

              That being said, if the OCA had the determination, skill and wiilingness to pay the costs, it could be done I suspect but its not as easy as you may think.

      • SAM, I don’t believe that the bishops really blessed this. If they did because of economics, then let’s just do what the Antiochians did and demote all the bishops to auxilliary status and leave all the power in Syosset where it really belongs.

  5. another one says

    George,

    With all respect, I think you may have overlooked something in the MC minutes when you made this statement.

    Futhermore, there is nothing in the Metropolitan Council Minutes approving the establishment of the two positions, and even if there were, The MC does not have the authority to create Syosset positions apart from the approval of the AAC.

    I don’t know about the ability to create new positions, but it did appear that budget monies were approved to allow the CA to move forward in this direction.

    From the draft minutes of the Spring 2012 Metropolitan Council meeting:

    F. Sexual Misconduct Policy Advisory Committee (SMPAC)
    Based on the previous day’s discussions, the following motion concerning SMPAC and related issues was presented.
    F.2. MOTION GARRETSON/MAHAFFEY – That the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations review in a systematic and timely manner previously “closed” clergy sexual misconduct files to determine any necessary action. To fund the appropriate staff and resources to ensure the professional, prompt, and timely execution of the Policies and Procedures regarding sexual misconduct (existing PSP). The Metropolitan Council requests that the Holy Synod issue their complete response to the SMPAC memorandum of February 2011 with all deliberate speed.
    It is further resolved: That the Metropolitan Council increase the existing budget line item for the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations not to exceed $125,000. CARRIED with 1 vote against (Maureen Jury).

    Do we understand the magnitude of this problem, given that just this motion spends approximately 5% ($125,000) of the total Syosset budget? I am unsure whether the travel and so on would be included in this number or would be buried in travel overall. (How much was spent on the Representational church investigation? Travel and so on? Could this line item already have been spent?)

    The much larger question is this. Do we have an out of control problem with sexual misconduct within our Church? Is is large enough to ignore Helga’s very common sense approach, and spend 5 -10% of our budget pursuing this? Are so many of our clergy broken by these passions?

    How does the OCA look when compared to all other organizations? What are the percentages of misconduct in the RC church? The schools? Other institutions, jurisdictions, and the population at large? The cry “protect the children!” is certainly one heard by almost everyone. But how many children are involved in these cases? Do we understand the size and scope of this issue before we throw money at it?

    Or do we have a problem with the focus of our representative/governing body? Is the OCA (or the SMPAC) overreacting to this problem at the expense of our indigent dioceses and parishes, dwindling attendance, and the primary mission of spreading the Gospel?

    • George Michalopulos says

      Another One, thank you for calling me out on the minutes of the MC. My criticism was very hasty and over-generalized. I think you saw my essential point, which is that there is no way that $125,000 is going to cover the cost of this project, no way, no how. “F.2” is particularly opaque. It seems to authorizing the funding of “the proper staff,” to execute and coordinate the PSP but then we are told that in no way can funding for this “staff” (plural) can “exceed $125,00.”

      Does this sound realisitic? Two people, each getting $65,000? Three people getting $42,000? Does this include travel expenses? How about private investigator fees? How about when the Sex Czar has to consult a lawyer in Idaho to find out what the statute of limitations are? Or to find out what consitutes a minor in California? Or whether there are still laws on the books in Georgia which allow an outraged husband to sue his wife’s lover for “loss of affection”? And we’re only talking about priests here. How about parish council members? Or Sunday School teachers? Youth counsellors? All “employees” of a parish can expose the parish to civil litigation. Do we think that this can be administered from Syosset?

      Does everybody see what I mean when I say that this wasn’t “thought through”?

  6. Fr. Michael Tassos says

    George,

    I like your website and generally agree with most of the discussions, however on this particular point I have to take exception. When I was in Syosset, it seemed like every other week there was some kind of allegation of sexual misconduct against a clergyman. The fact of the matter is that the most of the churches in the OCA are under the corporation of the OCA in New York and that means that the OCA can be liable for virtually every sexual misconduct lawsuit. Another factor that compounds this is the fact that the most of the insurance policies list the OCA as an insured.

    Frankly all of the Orthodox jurisdictions in America need to come to grips with the fact that they need outside assistance with sexual misconduct investigations. I remember being in one meeting of the metropolitan council when the subject of investigations was raised, and one bishop in a moment of exasperation said, “What do you want us to do, go out with a flashlight and pry into their bedrooms?” Frankly, no, that isn’t the answer, but neither is sending someone with a masters of divinity degree out to do an investigation. I don’t know if the current plan is any good, only time will tell. But the prior system of put your head in the sand and wait for the problem to go away was not a workable solution either.

    When I was in Syosset, I too tried to reduce the overall budget but there were certain large unavoidable messes that required a substantial amount of money to clean up. I would say that some of the current sexual misconduct that has occurred is also something that is going to require additional financial resources to clean up.

    You bring up an important point though about separate and distinct dioceses. This could be one way out. If each diocese were to incorporate separately and have the parishes in the diocese under the diocese of the corporation, you could reduce some of the current expenses. Unfortunately, whether anyone likes it or not, the tail that will continue to wag the dog is in Syosset, NY.

    By the way, would you mind clarifying the $140,000 “off the books” salaries you mentioned. There was no such off the books accounting that I was aware of while I was treasurer so I would really appreciate a clarification, i.e. who, what and when if you wouldn’t mind.

    • Geo Michalopulos says

      Fr Michael, thank you very much for your most considerate words. You of course are right to correct me as I have never been to Syosset and should not presume to know what you know. Having said that, the picture you paint of almost constant allegations leaves me flabbergasted.

      I don’t know where to begin so please forgive the following rambling:

      If even 1/4 of the allegations y’all received had some basis in fact, then we’re talking about systemic failure. By this I mean that the not only are the seminaries so inept in their spiritual formation but the priests who recommend men to the seminaries are inept as well.

      As for your other arguments, I hope to address them more fully in later parts.

      By the “off the books” remark, I should have clarified. This probably didn’t happen while you were treasurer but in Seattle a certain priest brought to everybody’s attention that the former Chancellor was going to continue to be paid for an indefinate period in 2012. No mention was made of this at all however for the proposed 2012 budget. (The fact that he continued to receive a salary 10 months after he was fired is a scandal in and of itself [for this I do not blame you btw]). I meant no offense but was merely pointing out what the appearance was.

      • StephenD says

        George…you may be right but people who perpetrate against children and women are very good at “masking” their tendancy to do so. We do offender evaluations where I work although in a differnt building because we also treat victims and the perpetrators are often mistaken for foster fathers or lawyers by those who do not know differently. I would certainly not be surprised if a priest missed that. orientation.Now seminary might be a different matter which is why I am leery of “receiving” or “ordaining” convert clergy without at least a year in an Orthodox seminary setting. Lots of pathology can be identified when on is living in a community setting.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          StephenD, that’s a very good point. However the problem first surfaced over 40 years ago when the Metropolia received its autocephaly. At that point in time, the overwhelming majority of priests were not converts but “cradles.” And among this demographic was a certain cohort that was sexually immature. That cohort btw from which we choose bishops. It was for this reason that Schmemann created the MC.

          In the GOA, the most egregious case of pederasty involved a Greek-American who was married. Presently, there is a scandal involving another Greek-American priest who was caught seeking anonymous sex in truckstops. I believe he was married as well. Anyway, the only reason I bring this up is because some people who are ethnic seem to want to ascribe this pathology to the reception of convert clergymen.

          • StephenD says

            George I agree with you ..the offenders are ethnic cradles and converts..Katsinas was very Greek and Gabriel Barrow who Met.Phillip sent from the Antiochian Archdiocese to the GOA was a convert..I do feel very strongly about the 1 year at Seminary rule and I applaud Met.Jonah for appearing to do that..I do hope that the Episcopal Assemblys will also address the issue of jurisdiction hopping..that would have stopped both Met.Phillip and Gabriel Barrow in their tracks…

      • Fr. Michael Tassos says

        George,

        Thank you very much for your response. When I was at the chancery in Syosset, Fr. Garklavs was the chancellor and Fr. Karlgut was in charge of investigating allegations of sexual misconduct. For the record, I was not involved with any investigations. However, as I mentioned earlier, because of the insurance issues, I was involved with notifying our insurance carrier of claims. Also, I wasn’t blind to the fact that Fr. Garklavs or Fr. Karlgut would leave for a few days here and there do an investigation – which was a lot more frequent than I would have thought. Some of the cases that are public where the allegations against Archbishop Seraphim, the Koumentakos matter, and the investigation in Alaska. There were others that did not see the light of day, so I won’t discuss them.

        In my opinion, there is a huge problem with sexual misconduct for a variety of reasons. One, most clergymen prior to at least the 1990’s were never evaluated psychologically, and even if they were, it’s no guarantee that something won’t happen in the future. Two, there is no system of monitoring clergy and being proactive about sexual misconduct. Even to this day, I am flabbergasted that some priests still meet privately and provide “counseling” to some of their parishioners despite all that has been said and written that this is a really bad idea. Three, there should be some level of forgiveness in the Church. The problem is that the application of forgiveness, especially when it involves clergymen, is performed quite liberally.

        I would like to share with you one example of positive leadership from His Beatitude, Metropolitan Jonah that might help to explain how matters of sexual misconduct can and, in my opinion, should be handled. There was an incident in I believe 2008 where a clergyman was accused of sexual misconduct. His Beatitude investigated the incident and the priest was removed very quickly. He then called a meeting of the clergy in his diocese and informed them that sexual misconduct would not be tolerated and that they would be immediately defrocked. How was that for leadership? Simple, direct, to the point. No Sex-Czar, and no attorneys. The biggest problem is when the leadership fails to take action, and tragically this is what took place in several dioceses in the past.

        • C Matley says

          Your comments are chilling for a variety of reasons, the least of which is that you knew anything regarding any of these matters. But I do appreciate your transparency in giving your views regarding the matters at hand, because it explains much about the current attitudes. One the one hand, we have the incredible statement of “there should be some level of forgiveness in the church.” Since you’re not privy to the individual cases (or so you say – I have my doubts), how do you know that the forgiveness was liberal? How do you know the situations so intimately that you’re able to make that judgment beyond the bishop who is responsible for the final outcome? Your perception may, in fact, not be even close to reality. You speak of monitoring clergy that has at its basis a mistrust that will only continue to drive priests away from the OCA. On the other hand, your example of Met. Jonah is equally chilling, since this is not a one-size-fits-all matter. But you seem to think that it is, and apparently, that’s a convenient prescription that will “cut costs” and “send a message.”

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Fr, like C Matley, I too appreciate your transparency. I think that you appear to be an honest and forthright man. I especially think it’s courageous of you to come to the defense of His Beatitude. Truth be told, what the central administration has done and said to this fine man is most disheartening.

          I would reassess my opposition to this concept if it were you who were called to be the man who could set up a pilot program for the dioceses to implement.

          To all, please forgive me for sounding like a broken record on this, but if the problem is severe, it can only be handled on a diocesan level (at the highest). Make no mistake, any further augmentation of power in Syosset will spell the doom of diocesan government.

        • Monk James says

          There are two monsters lurking just below the tranquil surface of Fr Michael Tassos’s post here, and they will break out and attack us before long, I fear.

          The first is that FrMT’s observations suggest that our OCA clergy are NOT being formed in spiritual life and ascetic practice. Whatever else they learn at seminary (an experience which might be a bit overrated if what he suggests is true) our priests are more likely than not to fail in their sacred commitments in married life and monastic practice, especially when it comes to sexual sins.

          Or why would we need two full-time positions to deal with allegations of impropriety among approximately 600 priests and deacons and a handful of lay employees?

          Personally, I believe that the vast majority of our clergy are good men and not at all likely to fit this pattern.

          The question remains, though: Why are some notoriously imprudent bishops and priests and deacons still in office?

          This is a problem for the bishops, each one within his own eparchy regarding his own priests and deacons, but for the Holy Synod as a whole when holding one of their fellow bishops to account, which keeps not happening.

          The procedures are simple, and do NOT need any sort of church-wide bureaucracy.

          First, any clergy accused of sexual abuse of a minor, or with an adult, must be reported FIRST to the police. They will deal with it — they have people trained to investigate such matters, funded by our taxes — and will involve civil prosecutors if necessary. Having our own investigators is a waste of resources.

          Second, any clergy accused of legal/consensual sexual misbehavior must account for themselves to the local bishop, who will invoke such professional assistance as is needed on a case-by-case basis.

          Even so, I expect that the number of incidents will be small, and that most of the accusations will be proved false.

          • Geo Michalopuls says

            You bring up a good point, Monk James. I am friends with a former FBI agent who because he was a Catholic, was tasked by a diocese in the Southwest with investigating allegations of molestation. What upset him almost as much as those that were true, were the false allegations of which he knew three. These men were nearly destroyed psychologically.

            We can’t forget that the “repressed memory” phenomenon that led to the McMartin railroad job of the 90s is an adjunct to false allegations. As to why some people make false allegatiions, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe the deep pockets of the RCC had something to do with it? I know none of the Orthodox jurisdictions have deep pockets but they do have some pockets. Maybe some person just wants to settle a score with a priest.

    • C Matley says

      Fr. Michael Tassos writes:

      When I was in Syosset, it seemed like every other week there was some kind of allegation of sexual misconduct against a clergyman.

      Fr. Michael, please tell us how it was that you were privy to such matters? You’ve already offered up that you were aware of allegations “every other week.” I thought this was a matter between the bishop, cleric, and if the bishop chose to involve them, the Office under the Chancellor? How was the treasurer aware of such things?

      • C Matley says

        Color me stupid. Aren’t these matters strictly confidential? How could they speak about them to other parties so openly? Wouldn’t that be some kind of canonical violation? Aren’t there legal consequences to breaking confidentiality? I guess I’m naive.

        • Geo Michalopulos says

          Very good point. If indeed these matters were discussed openly by people in Syosset, then by what right do we trust them to empower a Sex Czar? I’m sorry, but I just can’t shake the feeling that this is a make-work job for some crony who needs one and wants to get back into Syosset itself. If that is the case, then the next thing that will happen is that only those priests who are traditionalist/conservative will Get the Call from Syosset.

          Why? to discredit traditionalism for one thing, to show that the more conservative one is the more implicitly homosexual/licentious he is. In addition, the Sex Czar will serve as a bulwark against the reforms of Jonah and created a firewall in Syosset, which will make the implementation of the draw-down to the $50 head tax even more unlikely.

          Prediction: if the Sex Czar and his trusty side-kick are empanneled, there is no way that the $150,000 will begin to cover their expenses. Next year, they’ll go to the MC demanding more money because “the problem is so bad and we’re overworked trying to protect the Church,” and so on.

      • Geo Michalopulos says

        If one of these men are named: Nescott, Wheeler, etc., then we’ll know that this is what’s really happening and that this is nothing but a railroad job.

        Another wrinkle that doesn’t pass the smell test is that one of the qualifications interestingly left out of the job description is PhD. This means that anybody with an MS, and MDiv, or even MBA can apply for the position .

        • StephenD says

          Which is very scary…I have a Ph.D and I would never apply…I was asked to be one of the “investigators” and I said no thankyou…Why would they be looking for “investigators” when they don’t even have a Head of the Office?

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            One of the things that they haven’t throught through is that serious investigators hate their job. In the various RC dioceses, the burnout rate is high and so is turnover. There’s a dark underbelly to all churches and it’s not a pretty sight. It causes psychic crises in some of these guys..

            Having said that, the RCs are serious and will do what it takes, including hiring qualified investigators (on a diocesan basis) and paying them well.

            Let’s think about this further –the RCC is massively wealthy but it would never have a centralized guy in NYC or DC coordinating these investigations. The expense would be too great.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          I would think that limited the opening to a Ph.D. will (a) unnecessarily limit the pool of candidates and (b) make this position more costly. With all deference to StephenD and all readers who have terminal degrees, I fail to see that a Ph.D per se has anything to do with sexual misconduct investigations. Is there perhaps some university somewhere that confers and Ph.D. in Clergy Sexual Misconduct Investigations?

          • StephenD says

            Not that I know of…I did take some classes at John Jay College a few years ago….I agree about the Ph.D issue…I also graduated from a Psychoanalytic Institute,,,I do think the person should be licensed but maybe he or she should just coordinate the office…Im not even sure this position is needed…The Seraphim Matter was handled very well but of coarse that is Canada..I was involved in a case that Met.Jonah was involved in and I was impressed by how he took a “no tolerence” stance. However there have also been mistakes…but thats life…we all make mistakes

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            Then they’re not serious Carl. It’s just a sinecure created to reward some crony. I actually think they got their candidate in mind and he doesn’t have a PhD. They put a lot of thought into listing the qualifications for the person they have in mind.

      • Lola J. Lee Beno says

        Ever hear of water cooler conversation?

        • C Matley says

          Ever hear of confidentiality and the seal of confession? Are the priests in Syosset and the the bishops not bound to any type of confidentiality? Does anything go now when it comes to disseminating the information concerning these matters?

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            C Matley, you continue to bring up good points. The one that keeps sticking in my craw is that there has been no acknowledgment and/or repentance for the way Syosset and the previous MC treated His Beatitude. And how they scandalized the Church with this behavior. Once we see something along these lines, maybe –just maybe–we can consider going forward.

            • Monk James says

              Yes. And that was pretty much the same group who persecuted Fr Robert Kondratick. These are not nice people. Even if they can legitimately claim to have been deceived (which they were), they all too hungrily seized on the false accusations against FrRK because they needed a scapegoat on whom to focus their rage over all the mismanagement of the bishops without challenging the bishops themselves, who then thought that the heat was off. It’s not. They will yet answer to The Church and to our Lord Jesus Christ, Who is reliably quoted as not being patient with unworthy religious leaders.

              It’s up to Met. Jonah now to shepherd our OCA — bishops and all — toward reinstating FrRK as a priest of the OCA, with major apologies. After all, once the SIC report was demonstrated to be false, so was the ‘Spiritual Court’ which illegally and immorally tried FrRK in absentia without ever letting him see the ‘evidence’ brought against him. That court’s very constitution, not to mention its verdict and the bishops’ deposition of FrRK from the priesthood, were and remain invalid and of no effect.

              Our OCA will not begin to heal unless and until this gaping wound is cleansed and closed.

              When MetJ does this, he will very likely be opposed by some — even some of our bishops — who feel that it’s more important for them to be vindicated in their misjudgements than for the truth to prevail. MetJ shouldn’t fear this backlash, but anticipate it and deal with it, and — shepherd that he is — not allow FrRK to continue in the role of ‘sacrificial lamb’.

              Sacrificing FrRK will not propitiate the Lord, Whose anger is not yet full upon us. Let us repent while there is yet time, and return to our high and holy calling as members of the Body of Christ.

      • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

        No, Stephen D. Father Michael Tassos says there were allegations every day. Allegations are entirely separate from processes. If someone says at lunch, “I hear that Professor X is as gay as they come and may even have an arrest record in Manhattan and his wife’s a Lesbian, and that the Bishops are all talking about it and so is Stan The Dredge of Russian Filth,” there is no prohibition on his discussing such things and allegations as often and wherever he feels like it. While gossip can be evil, we have no policy, nor should we, of only allowing gossip in a special commission. Allegations. Get it?

        As for academic or professional qualifications, An MD is no less qualifying one than PhD. Some states license clinical psychologists with only an MA. Further, PhDs are like lice or “a dime a dozen.” i remember going to Wayne State in the 50s. All full-time faculty and instructors had to have a doctorate. I never sat in a classroom where the man or woman at the blackboard did not hold an earned doctorate.

        It seems to me that the OCA administration is proceeding ass-backwards in these matters. First, there is no place in the approved budget to develop and man such and office or office management. Someone should have advertised in, say “”The Orthodox Church” for interested professionals to submit, in writing, proposals to meet the “X” Problem. A competent administrative staff at Syosset, for example, would review and consolidate the results of the ad and the Chancellor (or other office manager) should present the results to the Holy Synod and/or Metropolitan Council to be considered in its deliberations. IF as a result of this rational process costing mostly man hours and little cash, it becomes apparent that such a Sexual Affairs Tsar should be a part of the Central Administration, then the matter should be “costed out” by the Treasurer’s office for presentation to the PreConciliar Committee for inclusion in the agenda and budget of the next AAC. Just a five-minute thought from an armchair.
        But, then, the Hierarchs and the MC, etc., based on water-cooler talk and discussion with “those in the know” and “on the inside”, decided to buy background investigations of clergy and prospective clergy. No one did any research in the matter and the onjy professionals consulted were the OCA’s “house” psychologists and psychiatrists. No one seems to have thought to ask, oh, the Department of Defense or the Civil Service Commission or any state Employment/Personnel office to provide references which would show, after almost a century of experience, just how productive or useful or viable feasible background investigations COULD be in preventing the hiring/appointment/utilization of persons who are or will become sexual offenders.
        There is one particular axiom that no one seems to have addressed: Any background investigation is invalid the day it is completed, for a man certified and ordained in May may, in June, travel out of state and get arrested, tried, and convicted for any number of offenses, and if he himself does not ‘tell it to the Church”, he can return to his parish and serve freely. Of course, if there is a provision (as there is in the government) to update these investigations every two or five years, his arrest would probably come out.

        Somehow, this reminds me of what we called, as children, in the thirties and forties: “Busy Work.” This describes activities for school children to keep them busy when the teacher has to step out for one reason or another. It usually went like this: “Children! Take out your pencils and notebooks and write about something, anything, until I come back!”

        Well, the people we hired in the Central Administration as well as the Holy Synod and the Metropolitan Soviet may be engaging in doing “something, anything,” about this or that problem.

        The big, big question, which was rarely, if ever, put to the Church in days past, is now, “Who’s in charge?”
        Anyone?

        • StephenD says

          George…I thought the reset meant we weren’t going to have comments like “Stan the man….Russian filth” anymore?

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            StephenD. I understand that you see the point of my comment and the only thing with which you disagree is my fictional account of an imagined allegation made by an imaginary person. I did not comment on anyone, but I reported how others do. I think your facetious question to George was a personal jab at me for how I analyzed your comment.

          • Geo Michalopuls says

            You know Stephen, this is going to sound self-serving, but the demonic vapors associated with that website are overpowering. I try not to comment about his/her idiocy but s/he has unleashed forces that cannot be controlled, save for fasting and extreme repentance. Basically what I’m trying to say is that when you see a man running naked down the street, whooping and hollering and making a general spectacle of himself, we as Christians should avert our eyes and pray for that poor soul. At the same time, to comment that the poor fellow is barking mad is within the bounds of reasoned discourse.

            S/he has brought it on himself. I’d rather people didn’t notice or comment in general but the level of vile, gratuitous hatred that he spews is self-defeating. He has nobody but himself to blame.

            • StephenD says

              I understand what you are saying but do we need to sink to that level? Should we not be better than that? Its your web site though and you set and enforse the rules…Like I said I do understand what you are saying..

        • M. Stankovich says

          Vladyka Tikhon,

          You accentuate the difficulty of anyone in a position of authority, necessity, and “customer satisfaction” making an essential decision, all the while knowing the decision will be second-guessed at every turn. And likewise knowing that a significant aspect of the second-guessing is based upon conjecture and not on fact – fact to which the “guessers” are not entitled.

          Simply for the sake of argument, are you aware, Vladyka, that on Friday, the case against Monsignor William Lynn of the RC Diocese of Philadelphia, accused of abetting child sexual molestation by covering up accusations against those priest convicted as the worst offenders, has gone to the jury? It is being called a “landmark” case for churches of all denominations. You have written here of a case in your cathedral where, despite accusation, you, to this day, do not believe sexual molestation occurred. I would point out that under CA law, what you believed was irrelevant. You then sent an “investigator” who was untrained, absolutely unqualified (albeit from your description, “compassionate”), and apparently more intent on “resolving” the matter than investigating. I am not being sarcastic or attempting to be offensive – I suspect many would and did pursue the same course – but with today’s climate and better lawyers, you could have cost the OCA significantly more than what is proposed for these positions. In other words, you and the OCA got lucky.

          If Monsignor William Lynn is convicted, all Orthodox jurisdictions should hang on to their hats. And their wallets.

          • Geo Michalopulos says

            MS, you continue to bring a degree of clarity to this issue. I feel however you are not seeing valid arguments to their logical conclusion.

            Allow me to clarify my own instincts about this: I continue to hold the belief that there is very little if any child molestation going on in the various Orthodox jurisdictions. (Notice I did not say “any”.) I am equally convinced that there is more of a problem with homosexuality per se than pederasty.

            Here is the conundrum: how do you stop child predators? Answer: Identify them before they get to seminary. Unfortunately, because we live in a PC universe, we are not allowed to use that one determinant which is found in all pederasts. (Some would go on to say that only those who possess that determinant are groomed for promotion in the first place.)

            • M. Stankovich says

              Mr. Michalopulos,

              I mean no offense by saying that, when dealing with matters such as we discuss, I am no more likely to trust your instincts than I would my own. And I say this after having conducted upwards of four hundred clinical assessments of convicted felony child sexual perpetrators. Likewise. I cannot imagine any reason as to why we would have less of a prevalence of child molestation than other religious bodies in the US, or more problems, proportionally, with homosexuality.

              I have to believe that the same holds true for domestic violence & child abuse; Fr. Tassos has mentioned the abuse of “counseling relationships” for which other, qualified healthcare professionals would be sanctioned, fined, and perhaps be relieved of their licensing; and the financial and domestic matters of untoward influence. Why would we be less impacted than anyone else?

              Your comment as to preventing predators before they reach the ranks of the clergy is well taken. But I can tell that the greater the antisocial personality the less likely they will be detected. They are intelligent, charming, practiced, and defeat standardized psychological testing. Part of the standard testing in treatment programs for paedophilia is Penile Plethysmography (PPG), using a mercury-filled string to measure arousal to projected pictures of children. Difficult to fake but highly invasive, no? Factually, there are several alternate reasons for such a reaction, and arousal to children is only one, but who wouldn’t think twice about the possible consequence?

              So, Mr. Michalopulos, my point has only been to emphasize that there are no viable arguments made yet that suggest to me that we are less likely, been protected from, or somehow been more “fortunate” than comparable church bodies in the US when it comes to the issues of sexual misconduct. Personally, I would be very interested in seeing data that supports the widespread claim that having married clergy has served as a protective factor. In any case, I find the OCA’s leadership and openness in these matters, as a first step, encouraging.

              • C Matley says

                Well there we have it! Mr. Stankovich! Please order 1,000 Penile Plethysmography devices to be fitted on the penises of each cleric of the OCA. Have them constantly monitored during the liturgical services with a direct connection via wireless internet to Syosset (this will solve Fr Tassos’s aforementioned “monitoring problem,”) and if any of them sees a woman in a beautiful head scarf provocatively doing a mentonia, and there is any measurement in penile arousal, immediately have him hauled in for questioning to Syosset! It could actually be very dramatic! Have alarms go off inside his vestments, lights flash, the royal doors slam shut and lock to keep everyone safe! A text message would also be sent to the Pokrov gals to update their database. The back of his vestments would flash, “Predator alert! Predator alert! Someone call the Syosset Sex Czar!”

                • M. Stankovich says

                  C Matley,

                  Apparently you are a tad too concrete for levity as to what that “one determinant” might be. I’m giddy with anticipation. But as they say, C Matley, if the plethysmograph fits…

                  • C Matley says

                    I suspect that it’s probably not funny to you because you and your ilk find it not far from plausibility….

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      C Mately,

                      I was making a joke about the improbability of screening psychopaths. I’m laughing now thinking how Fr. John Meyendorff caused me to laugh out loud as he began confession, diverting from the customary, “So, how are things?” asked, ” So, any dirty thoughts?” would have to ask, “So, how was your PPG?” Take a breath, dude.

                      As to the question of my “ilk,” I have had my ass kicked soundly, twice, by sex offenders resulting in traumatic brain injury and four surgeries, including the replacement of my left knee with titanium & the finest of plastics last year. One guy bit me so many times & spit in my mouth & eyes that I was tested for HIV and HCV for a year because he had a constitutional right not to be tested. Yup, I’m a professional, alright, and apparently a dumb one at that. My ilk watches, listens, studies the operative dynamics, and takes an occasional whooping, and becomes the accidental experts. Like it or not, you need my ilk, if only for insight.

                      I’m not exactly sure of the cause for your obvious “annoyance,” C Matley, but it is not my intention to offend. All apologies. I strongly disagree with influencing opinion with speculation and conjecture when viable data does exist. And where viable data does not exist, be clear your opinion is speculative. All told, this is not an inordinately high threshold for truth.

                    • C Matley says

                      Wrong ilk. I bear no annoyance toward those who seek to keep society safe from rapists and child molesters. In this you provide a useful and important service. My issue is with the working assumption that every cleric is a potential sexual deviant waiting for his time. To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      C Matley,

                      As Baba Yaga was want to say, “You silly goose.” I would ask you to explain how you have reached this conclusion in regard to me personally, but now I’m bored.

                      Perhaps I’ve not been clear that I am only interested in the truth and I would point to these words of St. Chrysostom on suspicion of others:

                      So great, yes and far greater zeal must we use, to uproot and prevent floating reports which are not good, but to see beforehand from afar whence they come, and to remove beforehand the causes from which they are produced, not to wait till they are established and are the common topics in every one’s mouth. For then it is not easy in the future to destroy them, but very difficult, perhaps impossible, and not without mischief, because this is done after many have been injured.

                      I would be grateful to God to find that the OCA has a prevalence rate of sexual misconduct that is significantly lower than any other religious body in the US – and from a source a touch more credible than Vladyka Tikhon. Until it is reported otherwise, I will assume that the effort underway is legitimate and necessary.

                      But most importantly, C Matley, you have seriously misread my basic interest here. I have no desire in investigating, identifying, evaluating, reporting, or consulting with anyone as to the sexual conduct of Orthodox clergy. None. Did I mention I do this professionally? I’ve seen enough sex offenders to regale you with non-stop stories for years. But we cannot tolerate victims, isolated and ashamed, alone and afraid to speak in the Master House because no one will believe them. And statistically, there are always more victims than perpetrators.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      “Silly goose” is a typically English epithet for centuries. As far as I know, “Baba Yaga” never ever uttered the words ‘silly goose,’ nor any other such popular English expression, epithet, or idiom at all, nor was she wont to say that.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      Someone wrote this:
                      “I have no desire in investigating, identifying, evaluating, reporting, or consulting with anyone as to the sexual conduct of Orthodox clergy. None. Did I mention I do this professionally?”

                      Anyone who does professionally what they have no desire in (sic) doing, should seek professional help.

                    • Jane Rachel says

                      MS: Correction. It’s “wont to say.” Not “want to say.” “As Baba Yaga was wont to say..” Or not. Depending on what she wanted to say.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      Jane Rachael emerges to straighten my dumbass out… Never would I claim a dyed-in-the-wool dyslexic can spell, but when I checked it now, auto-correct speller changes “wont” to “want,” suggesting a 50% chance I was originally correct… Nevertheless, SOMEONE is suggesting “I jig and amble, and [I] lisp, [I] nickname God’s creatures and make [my] wantonness [my] ignorance.” Hmm. “Go to,” SOMEONE says, “I’ll no more on ‘t. It hath made me mad” (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1), and this doesn’t mean “angry.” I stand corrected, JR, and by golly, it has put a proper crease in my shirt. Grazie.

                    • Carl Kraeff says

                      C Matley–Resorting to ad hominem usually indicates defeat. Why don’t you just fess up that you are wrong and Stankovich is right, regardless of your respective “ilks”?

                    • C Matley says

                      Your absolutely right, Carl. He’s everything he says he is. He has all the right answers. He’s the Legacy. I bow to his superior intellect and to your sharp deduction.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      After a frank consultation with my mother, I now must clarify that the expression “silly goose” was my grandmother’s translation of the Russian word глупец, generally translated into English as as “fool,” “imbecile,” or the like. My grandmother, being of a certain piety and tradition, found it inappropriate to use such words around young boys, and according to my mother, purposely substituted the phrase “silly goose” as she recalled it from an English translation of the Grimm Brothers. Who would have thought! And all this time, I have attributed this phrase to Babba Yaga. Well, to be honest, this is the first time, but I have lived the error in my heart… Therefore, it seems reasonable to concede to Vladyka Tikhon, self-appointed defender of the Slavic hag, that she never uttered such an expression. Not in English, anyway.

                      I note to C. Matley that, quite apart from my mistaken phrase, it was inappropriate to speak such a thing to you in the first place. Dude, you gots bees in your bizness over me? Seriously, nobody cares what I think! Chin up, mate. It’s just talk. Discussions. Possibilities. Otherwise unsolicited, unheard “stabs at solutions.” Our friend Herman is sick at heart, you snark at an instigator, others tear their robes & grind their teeth. Trust the words of the Master: “You will see greater things than this” (Jn. 1:50), and as we so recently sang, “I am with you and no one can be against you.” Have at it, pal.

                    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                      I’m sorry that I was not more specific in pointing out that Baba Yaga was too illiterate to know English. An axiom of clear speaking and writing is “What CAN be misunderstood WILL be misunderstood.” Why, this could lead to such an outlandish conclusion as that I would defend an evil creature from Slavic folklore. What an idea!!!

                  • Jane Rachel says

                    Michael Stankovich, Jane Rachel did not “emerge to straighten” your “dumbass” out. I “emerged” because I like the word and meaning of “wont” and wanted it to have its due place in your sentence about Baba Yaga. Also, I liked the Hamlet quote.

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                SOMEONE wrote: “I cannot imagine any reason as to why we would have less of a prevalence of child molestation than other religious bodies in the US,…”
                I believe that the writer is teliing the truth, I too can’t imagine any REASON for that known fact.

                Even someone as motivated dedicated to the task of disproving that fact as a Pokrov member may have been, has also not been able to come up with a reason for that fact. From the first, even foundational case, which was about child molestation involving a layman and which resulted in much investigation and no prosecutions whatsoever, until today, cases of the great evil of child molestation have been few and far between in our Orthodox Church, compared to the number of such cases in “our fallen-sister Church,” the Roman Catholic Church, sometimes also called the other, diseased, lung.

              • M. Stankovich says

                I am happy to bring to your attention a new feature on OCA.org: the Chancellor’s Diary that begins here, and will continue on a daily basis.

            • Monk James says

              Reply

              arrow

              Geo Michalopulos says (June 2, 2012 at 5:04 pm):

              ‘MS, you continue to bring a degree of clarity to this issue. I feel however you are not seeing valid arguments to their logical conclusion.

              Allow me to clarify my own instincts about this: I continue to hold the belief that there is very little if any child molestation going on in the various Orthodox jurisdictions. (Notice I did not say “any”.) I am equally convinced that there is more of a problem with homosexuality per se than pederasty.

              Here is the conundrum: how do you stop child predators? Answer: Identify them before they get to seminary. Unfortunately, because we live in a PC universe, we are not allowed to use that one determinant which is found in all pederasts. (Some would go on to say that only those who possess that determinant are groomed for promotion in the first place.)’

              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

              There’s a determinant by which pederasts can be identified? Even before they harm children?

              Please let the other shoe drop. What is that determinant?!

              • George Michalopulos says

                Homosexuality. It’s an intrinsic disorder.

                • David B. says

                  I’m sorry? That’s begging the question. Paederasty is by definition homosexual behavior. But you’re conflating it with “child predation/molestation” which is not specific as to sex of victim, and only specific to male abusers because you’re talking about priests. I’m not saying there isn’t a preponderance under the circumstances (perhaps partly because of opportunity?), but you’re presenting it as an absolute.

                  • M. Stankovich says

                    David B.,

                    I appreciate that someone, other than me, calls BS on Mr. Michalopulos – as if I didn’t know what was coming. It gets lonely. Nevertheless, your response is unsettling.

                    Paederasty is an archaic description of a sexual behaviour perpetrated against a male child. It is not, by definition, a homosexual behaviour per se; this would be a variable specific to the perpetrator. Because this behaviour is perpetrated against a child, it is always molestation.

                    The danger in mixing these terms (paederasty, paedophilia, hebephilia, homosexuality) is that they take on a “casual” relationships” – as Mr. Michalopulos has manufactured above – that are not sustainable with the available research. It would appear, for example, that for some individuals, their sexual attraction is limited to pre-pubescent children; some to boys, some to girls, some to both. They do not consider themselves heterosexual, nor homosexual (regardless of the gender of the children they prefer), nor do they desire (nor could they likely sustain) an intimate adult relationship.

                    My thought: we can sustain the discussion without the word “paederasty.”

                    • David B. says

                      Michael,

                      I didn’t introduce the word though I spelt it differently, and I’m happy to do without it. I have for years watched this difficult and subtle subject, instead of being teased apart, rather being forced onto the Procrustean bed of terminology (usually pedophilia) which seldom fits that bed, and I think this is to the detriment of all parties concerned. Pedophilia is not hebephilia is not ephebephilia and none of them are behaviors.

                      Since I’m in a complaining mood, I’ll also point out another thing I’ve found extraordinarily troubling:

                      1) Child is abused. Child is considered horrendously damaged, abuser is horribly vilified as irredeemably evil, people (let us say Fr. John Whiteford) call for his death, statistics are cited purporting to show that some enormous fraction of children in this country are abused by their sibs or fathers, and that such children have a strong tendency to repeat this cycle.

                      2) Men as a class are looked on with suspicion.

                      2a) Healing power of the Church and of all hands asking each other’s forgiveness *regardless of reciprocation and regardless of perceived fault* seems pushed in a corner. Abuser is in a particularly difficult position since if he opens his (her) mouth the sky will fall in. Abused can’t help but take in that the whole society is wound up so tight they squeak on the subject. Relatives of said abused may be so wound up that they deny reality when the child presents it.

                      3) Child from 1) grows up and in fact abuses a child. He is horribly vilified as irredeemably evil and there are calls for his death. Recursively. I think there is something dreadfully wrong with this picture. If this is the best we can do, why don’t we just shoot the kid and get it over with, with due judicial process, and save him and his prospective victim(s) a lifetime of misery and break the cycle? Obviously we can’t do that, but we *must* do *something* and I think a fair beginning would be to tone down the hysteria and recognize that if things are really as bad as we say, we as a society, global or otherwise, are as much at fault as particular individuals; and every single one of us needs to get a lot more humble about it.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      David B,

                      I appreciate your response, and it gives me pause to consider “appearances.”

                      I am a clinician – a mental health treatment provider – within the context of a penal institution in a penal system. I work with “patients.” These patients are randomly assigned, and the responsibility for establishing “rapport” is mine. I deal with individuals who have committed despicable acts, and frankly, some are despicable human beings. I make my best effort, in my own foolish manner, to be compassionate, merciful, and kind. If there is an “impression” I would hope to give, it would be as an honest, attentive, consistent, dependable person whose behaviour is congruent with his word. I have felt great sorrow and compassion in my heart for those patients who are remorseful.

                      So, what’s the point of all this? You are not the first to suggest a “lack of forgiveness” in this dynamic of managing misconduct, and I believe it is significant. My first thought was, “What does this absent ‘forgiveness’ look like?” I then thought of our Canonical Tradition; how the Fathers have already determined the ἐπιτιμία – the terms of repentance – in great detail and precision: years and years of graduated “reconciliation and uniting” oneself back into the fullness of the Church. And on the one hand, “traditionalists” scoff at the “coddling” of those who brazenly make a spectacle of their sin and wave the Rudder like Federal Sentencing Guidelines, while Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) cautioned confessors to recall, “We are far removed from the time of Grace.”

                      It seems to me that what is missing here is an appreciation for the message and intent of the Fathers: in these situations, reconciliation is not ours to give. While this seems to contradict the command to forgive, “not seven times: but, until seventy times seven (Mat. 18:22), consider the young rich man (Mk. 10:22) “very sorrowful” in leaving; the Master could have “negotiated” a way for him to stay, but did not. And why? “And looking upon him, Jesus loved him.” (10:21) This is the Wisdom and guidance of the Canonical Tradition for order, reconciliation, and ultimately salvation.

                      We are called to be compassionate, merciful, and kind, but we cannot give what is not ours to give.

                    • David B. says

                      Michael,

                      I appreciate your response, and it gives me pause to consider “appearances.”

                      Thank you.

                      I am a clinician – a mental health treatment provider – within the context of a penal institution in a penal system. [snip] I have felt great sorrow and compassion in my heart for those patients who are remorseful.

                      That must be an astoundingly difficult job.

                      So, what’s the point of all this? You are not the first to suggest a “lack of forgiveness” in this dynamic of managing misconduct, and I believe it is significant.

                      I think you’ve taken my point, or this part of it, a bit inside out. An anecdote. I’m about 60. I (and my sibs in general, but I blazed the trail) had a difficult relationship with my father which has had ramifications reaching into the present. For a long time I was extremely angry with him, though I didn’t always know it. Eventually in various ways that got pretty much sorted out. A number of years ago my pastor came to me and said “Have you asked your Father for forgiveness yet?” When I got done choking I said no, and he said, “Well, do it.” “Uh, ok, but I’m not ready.” “No, do it the next time you see him. You won’t have him for long.” Only thing he’s ever flat-out told me to do. Well I spent the next couple weeks sweating blood and thinking that it for sure would kill me, and the next time I saw him I didn’t do it. And I sweated some more blood and finally I thought “Y’know, what’s going to happen when you do this is that you’re going to be really really embarrassed, and you think that’s going to kill you? Get real.” So next time I saw him I did, just asked forgiveness for whatever ways I’d hurt him from the time I was five until then. And I was really really embarrassed, and so was he; but he managed to sort of pat my arm and convey friendliness. And over the next couple months various things loosened up inside me and I felt a real peace with him that I hadn’t known wasn’t there. And a few months later he was beginning to suffer from Lewy-body dementia. Now he did a lot worse things to me than I ever did to him, but that didn’t mean I didn’t hurt him, and until I acknowledged that to myself and asked for forgiveness – whether or not he gave it wasn’t the point – there was going to be a knot of ugliness tied up in me. One among many, and all needing to be untied the same way. We all hurt each other, none of us are completely innocent, we all need at some point to look the people who’ve hurt and abused and offended us in the eye and ask their forgiveness for whatever ways, known or unknown, that we’ve hurt them. Whether they give it is on them, but asking is on us.

                      My first thought was, “What does this absent ‘forgiveness’ look like?”

                      Perhaps failing to see that these people, though they may need restraint, or punishment, or even to be killed, are yet the image and likeness of our God, and to wish harm upon them. You’re at the bleeding edge of this and I pray you are given the strength to go on, not perfectly but well enough, and that you’re not broken by it.

                      But outside in the world I think that lack of forgiveness inheres in the violence of our reactions and our language and our denial; and they’re symptoms of our drawing up fear and anger into ourselves and cherishing them. If this is something that’s happening to one child in four in this country then it seems to me that either the number is way out of whack, or we’d better decide that the War on Drugs proved what we already learned in Prohibition and start clearing out the jails, or not every kid is desperately harmed by this, and that a general calming down might reduce the harm and help defuse the cycle.

                      If I went to my mom and said “This is going on and it’s weird and I don’t like it” and mom calls me a dirty liar and sends me to my room and has a burr under her saddle for a month…seems to me my trust has been abused in very profound ways beyond whatever else was going on.

                      But if she says “You’re right, that’s not cool, I’m glad you told me. I’ll have a word with Uncle Charlie and if you start getting funny feelings around him again come tell me and I’ll straighten it right out.” And then maybe Uncle Charlie has to be sorted into a things got out of hand vs opportunist vs predator bin and treated accordingly. But from the kid’s point of view things are calm and matter of fact and downplayed. Seems to me as a complete non-expert that there’d likely be a lot less trauma and repression and weirdness coming out twenty years later. But it can’t happen while we’re all so societally wound up about it.

                      I then thought of our Canonical Tradition; how the Fathers have already determined the ἐπιτιμία – the terms of repentance – in great detail and precision: years and years of graduated “reconciliation and uniting” oneself back into the fullness of the Church. And on the one hand, “traditionalists” scoff at the “coddling” of those who brazenly make a spectacle of their sin and wave the Rudder like Federal Sentencing Guidelines, while Met. Anthony (Khrapovitsky) cautioned confessors to recall, “We are far removed from the time of Grace.”

                      In my limited experience of a discussion on ?O-Forum? list maybe a year ago, the traditionalists were saying that sometimes it’s good for someone to be told that they shouldn’t take communion for a week or two, and this was being greeted with horror. But perhaps that’s neither here nor there.

                      It seems to me that what is missing here is an appreciation for the message and intent of the Fathers: in these situations, reconciliation is not ours to give.

                      How could it be? But in my uninformed opinion, in situations like these every single person involved or even nearby has let all the others down in large or small way. Indeed, in this fallen world my sins and yours and the Pope of Rome’s have all in some way contributed to all the fallen and broken and evil things that happen. So cast the net as wide as you like, it’s within each of us to ask all the rest to “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” and by so doing recognize that in fact we have those debts. But to get back to particulars, every adult owes that child protection from danger, and witting or not, able or not, has failed him. We’ve failed to afford the abuser a way of avoiding the net. We’ve failed in some way to comfort the family and help them to the best of what the Church can give. We’ve failed to help the priest and the bishop to do their best, and they’ve failed indeed to do their best for all concerned. The abuser has actively taken advantage of the child’s trust, and the child, a passionate being like all of us, has in some way however tiny contributed to the situation.

                      We are called to be compassionate, merciful, and kind, but we cannot give what is not ours to give.

                      We can only forgive on our own behalf, and forgiveness doesn’t mean overlooking a situation that needs correcting, even by drastic means; but equally we can ask forgiveness on our own behalf, even if we don’t know just what we need forgiveness for. Because surely there is something.

                    • M. Stankovich says

                      David B,

                      Let me clarify a distinction between forgiveness and reconciliation.

                      I believe that what the truly remorseful wishes, above all else, emotionally and psychologically, is to hear “I forgive you. You are forgiven.” And relying on the words of the Lord, “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven,” (Mat. 18:18) at least the Russians incorporated this directly into the Rite of Confession: “I, an unworthy priest, through the power given to me by him, do forgive and absolve you from all your sins.” Except at the the chapel at SVS, back in the day, where it was never heard.

                      Frs. Schmemann & Meyendorff both taught this “forgiveness clause” as a later addition to the Rite of Confession. Understanding that the impact of sinfulness is cosmic in nature and isolating in character, forgiveness is insufficient, in and of itself. The oldest form of the Rite asks, “Grant him/her an image of repentance,” and ultimately, “Reconcile him (her) and unite him (her) to Your Holy Church.”

                      This understanding, it seems to me, gives perspective to the Canonical Tradition, and my statement, “reconciliation is not ours to give.” I believe by delineating the “conditions of repentance” (ἐπιτιμία), the Fathers are emphatic: “You are forgiven,” but your actions were such that your reconciliation – “work[ing] out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12) – must be earned. Some will rail at the “punitive vilification” of the sinner. Others will weep at the opportunity.

                    • Michael,

                      I believe I understand your distinction (now) and it seems entirely sensible and proper to me (for what little that’s worth). Thank you very much.

                  • Geo Michalopulos says

                    Daniel B: Pederasty is the sexual molestation of young boys by older males. Pedophilia is not sex-specific. All pederasts are pedophiles, not all pedophiles are pederasts.

                    • David B. says

                      George,

                      I’m not an expert in this (or practically any) field and I just promised to drop this word; but before I do — unless my reading is completely out of whack, it seems to me that in fact very few pederasts (actors) are pedophiles (bearers of a specific paraphilia which seems to exclude likelihood of attraction to people of the ages my reading tends to describe in terms of the said action). And maybe it looks as though I’m being needlessly picky, but I believe this is truly a very complex subject, however simple it may seem from the standpoint of “a child was abused.”

                      However beyond hoping that people will respect that complexity I really don’t know enough to make much worthwhile contribution, I think.

                • Monk James says

                  In response to my questions:

                  ‘There’s a determinant by which pederasts can be identified? Even before they harm children?
                  Please let the other shoe drop. What is that determinant?!’

                  George Michalopulos says:(June 6, 2012 at 8:09 pm)
                  `Homosexuality. It’s an intrinsic disorder.’

                  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

                  To which I say:

                  I suspect that homosexuality is not in itself ‘an intrinsic disorder’, but rather an aspect or sign or expression of some sort of personality disorder which we’ve yet to identify.

                  We know that same-sex attraction is disordered and unproductive in biological/anthropological terms, and sinful in theological terms, yet we — in all scientific disciplines — haven’t the slightest idea of where same-sex attraction originates. For that matter, apart from theology, we have no idea of where other-sex attraction originates.

                  Science is baffled by all this, yet at the same time unhelpfully and unrealistically rejects biblical revelation and theology/morality built on that.

                  Aware of all that, I must disagree with George Michalopulos here. Homosexual inclinations are NOT an indicator of pederasty, a ‘time-defined’ aspect of homosexuality, which might best be identified as a sexual fetish or paraphilia.

                  The long history of pederasty in many cultures is available — just google it — and you can see that’s undeniably a concept fully within male sexuality at the same time as it’s not the same thing as we consider homosexuality to be in our own time.

                  In spite of all that history, and in spite if the fact that SOME homosexual men are attracted to teenaged boys,, our contemporary clinical literature is very clear about this: Most homosexuals, male and female, are attracted to people near their own age, as are most heterosexuals.

                  Homosexuality per se is not an indicator or ‘determinant’ of pederasty or ephebophilia or gerontophilia or anything else other than that those feelings are directed toward people of the same sex rather than of the other sex.

                  These are subsets of homosexual behavior and not available as characteristics of homosexuals altogether.

                  Yet, if there are identifiable ‘determinants’ which we could use to identify women and men who would take sexual advantage of children, it would be a good thing for us to use them and prevent such abuse and the tragedies which usually ensue it.

                  Are there really such ‘determinants’? We need to know.

          • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

            M. Stankovich. I am mystified by your opening gambit: “You accentuate the difficulty of anyone in a position of authority, necessity, and “customer satisfaction” making an essential decision, all the while knowing the decision will be second-guessed at every turn. And likewise knowing that a significant aspect of the second-guessing is based upon conjecture and not on fact – fact to which the “guessers” are not entitled.’
            Whose comments had you read when you wrote that?
            I missed such matters in my comment, and i don’t see where I accentuated any such difficulty of making any essential decision.
            To go even further from addressing anything I actually wrote in my comment re; StephenD’s words and the subject of this thread, you drag in events absolutely tangential AT BEST to the current discussion in order to blame me and my conduct in those events. I was called up by a mother and her friend who reported to me everything that they believed had happened in San Francisco: They believed children had been molested by a lay individual at the Cathedral and that that perpetrator was behind bars. I reported everything to His Beatitude and to my own Chancellor, Father Nicholas Soraich. The Rector of the Cathedral gave me his own report. I did not interview any children. I sent the Chancellor to the Cathedral, and i considered him to be more competent and qualified to do that than I was. I also visited the Cathedral and conferred with three sets of parents, one of whom is a pediatrician and who (in my opinion) as a professional and in the best interests of his own offspring, withdrew completely from any demands upon the Cathedral, its community or me, including participation in litigation of any kind. Other parents chose to strike out at the Church for having failed them. They also decided and made a cause out of that decision, that the Orthodox Church was equally with the Roman Catholilc Church, infected with a long-lasting epidemic of child abuse by clergy and that the dangers and the methods of meeting those dangers were identical. It was my conviction, and still is, that abuse of children by Orthodox clergy is a complete rarity and anomaly compared to the frequency and seriousness of that abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.
            It was the testimony of the same parents, describing how they, ostensibly and presumably, handed the care of their children over to unknown and even (to them) suspicious persons, not clergy at all, while they socialized and had coffee, snacks and conversation in the same building. They later sued the Church and received monetary compensation for the parish’s negligence. No one, Mr. Stankovich, thought to accuse the parents of negligence, or to investigate their home lives, even though the frequency of child molestation would indicate that one of the most frequent abusers, if not the only one, is a relative or someone in the home.
            This, Mr. Stankovich, was in the day when child molestation and its associations, such as “repressed/suppressed memories” and the pronouncements of “experts” in the field of sexual molestation were considered to be something like oracles and few, if any, people dared to challenge the results of the “child-molestation expert” industry. Even so, there was no finding at all by any court of criminal sexual activity or criminal abuse of children, nor does such a finding exist.
            Even so, even after a couple parents decided the risks of harming their own offspring, by widely advertising their “ruined” state, were worth taking, if only someone, in this case the Cathedral would be blamed and punished, while their own virtue as responsible parents would be vindicated, the result was that the Cathedral was found negligent and and fined for that. (This was covered by insurance.”)
            I believe that today, M. Stankovich, they might not even have got that monetary recompense.out of a judge that they got then.
            i recommending staying on the subject: the ongoing machinations in the attempted creation of a Sex Tsar for the OCA.

            • Geo Michalopulos says

              Thank you Your Grace for your historical insights. Context is very important as well as the actual facts of the matter. As well, unfortunately, the motives of some of the accusers. It’s depressing, but hidden agendas abound. I believe this is the case with the Sex Czar as well. (Although I prefer to spell tsar phonetically, I will continue to use “czar” because of the way this has been used in American political life since the time of Nixon.)

            • M. Stankovich says

              Then I must be simply stupit. This what you said:

              A parishioner there called me up once to report that children had been molested at Holy Trinity Cathedral and that the perp was in jail. I heard her out, and I opined that if that had indeed happened, we should at least be grateful to God that the perp was already in jail and we need not go through all kinds of investigations and court appearances, perhaps involving public testimony my children, to establish his identity. An almost deafening scream of “NEVER!” was the next thing I heard. One of the mothers whose child had allegedly been molested explained that this was nothing to be thankful for because she couldn’t “get at him” in jail. I met with a group of the parents in San Francisco. I learned that the occasion of the alleged discovery of acts of abuse was one of the parents learning that a convert in the parish for whom she had developed a great antipathy, had been put in jail as a sexual criminal, a molester of children. From that point on, the alarmed group of parents who disliked Sam Allen, began to interrogate their children and send them to “professionals” from whom they “learned’ that their children had been molested. I assigned my chancellor, Father Nicholas Soraich, to investigate and report to me. He went to San Francisco, investigated and reported to me. He was greeted by and accepted with great enthusiasm by the parents. He even went throughout the Cathedral plant blessing everything with Holy Water… I believe that Sam Allen, interviewed by an investigator in prison, did admit that he had intended to commit abuse at HTC, but never got around to it since he was arrested for offences elsewhere.

              So, a mother had developed a “great antipathy” for a “sexual criminal, a child molester” hanging out in your cathedral, around her children? And so unreasonably aggrieved was she at Sam Allen – who, truth be told, had every intent to abuse and ruin the inner safety and sanctity of the lives of children in your cathedral, but ran out of luck – she stirred up the hive and happened to conveniently find a therapist who falsely convinced innocents they had been molested. Meanwhile, rather than “troubling” authorities, your chancellor, who had absolutely no training in investigating suspected child molestation – but hey, what a nice guy! – sealed the deal with Holy Water, apparently unaware of what the real Russians prescribe should be done when a dog accidentally wanders into the church.

              If I were the OCA Treasurer, I would tax you for writing such shameful and callus statements, and transfer it directly to the salaries of those who would attempt to compensate for the embarrassment you so casually describe. I was shocked reading it the first time, and I am no less shocked reading it now. At the time I thought, can I be the only one offended? And today I don’t care.

              • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

                Such spiteful malice. Monsieur or Mme.Stankovich, If you wanted to reply to my post of long ago, which you now dredge up, you should have done so then. The problem that the Larsons and MMe. Sakoda had with Sam Allen prior to their learning of his arrest had NOTHING to do with sexual abuse suspicions. Their problem was, number one, that he was not married; number two, that hehad come to Holy Trinity Cathedral from the Christ the Savior Brotherhood of deposed Abbot Herman, and was therefore a former cultist who PER SE (according to them) could never be trusted, and, number three, like every guy who read or served in the altar at HTC was wont and was blessed to wear a cassock by the Dean(s) which caused “who does he think he is” type resentment.. In fact, all those parents KNEW that Mr. Allen was teaching Sunday School and playing with their children while they had their coffee and refreshments after Liturgy. Some of them (not all) upon learning of the circumstances of his arrest DECIDED that their children may very well have been molested and they acted accordingly, grilling their children and having their children grilled by professionals who supported themselves by grilling children. I repeat, one set of parents was a pediatrician and his wife, who throughout distanced themselves from the entire process.
                M. Stankovich places great reliability on credentialism when it comes to such investigators/investigation. Perhaps he earns his living as a social science professional. In my experience social workers and clinical psychologists in general place enormous emphasis and investment in their social science credentials and degrees.
                I’m not sure why Monsieur Stankovich has such hostility toward the diocesan chancellor of the day: the parents expressed their great satisfaction with my appointing him and for ALL his actions when he went to address their concerns at HTC. I did not recommend or necessarily even approve his asperging of the Cathedral plant and grounds with Holy Water, but they were most pleased by this evidence of someone doing something about evil, as one of them put it.
                What in the world could M. Stankovich mean by “what the real (SIC) Russians prescribe should be done when a dog (italicized mysteriously) accidentally wanders into the church?.” Enlighten us, Monsieur Stankovich, just what does the Great Trebnik or Priest’s Prayer Book direct be done “when a dog accidentally wanders into the church?”
                What deal was sealed with holy water?
                Today, you don’t care? Why bother writing then?
                M. Stankovich, I’m not sure what you mean by ‘absolutely no training in investigating child molestation.” Father Nicholas was at that time in charge of child support investigations for the District Attorney in Las Vegas of Clark County: prior to that he was the full-time administrator of a shelter for teenage substance abuse victims owned by the Presbyterian Church. I had no special training in sexual molestation investigations, but I had ten years service as an officer in the USAF whose first and basic occupational specialty was security and law enforcement and who had served even for a time as acting Deputy Base Commander for Security and Law Enforcement (the army calls that ‘provost marshal’) at Columbus AFB (SAC), Mississippi and then served as THE Security Clearance granting official for ALL military and civiilian employees of the Dept of the Air Force who were employed at HQs USAF (including the office of the Secretary of the Air Force as well as any Air Force personnel employed at the White House permanently or occasionally (even the Band and social aides), as well as all AF General Officers worldwide. My office maintained the National Agency Checks, Background Investigations, and Full Field Investigations in my office’s vaults. I know SOMETHING about the background investigation process of which I wrote and a good familiarity and competence in the general field of investigation, the mechanics of which do not greatly differ between given crimes and criminal pathologies.
                I resent, still, the proclivity of parents of allegedly abused children to relentlessly and eternally lay before the public the harm they feel was done by someone else to their children. One mother gave an interview to a popular bay area newspaper in which she lamented how psychologically and permanently harmed her (now pre-teen) son had been. I bet he had a very interesting progress through the public schools after than, knowing how deliberately and unconsciously cruel some school kids can be. I respect the pediatrician parent who removed his offspring from that arena.
                I don’t feel I”m a callous person. I just have never been convinced that molestation of children took place at HTC by Sam Allen at the claimed times. The Dean at that time was rather a lazy man and a passive one: the whole affair was too much for him.His replacement, Archpriest Victor Sokolov formerly a dissident journalist in Moscow, and a great family man with remarkable gifts, who replaced him acted impeccably and forcefully to crush all disorder and hysteria at HTC. He was a real Russian. I’m not sure, though, if he would come up to M. Stankovich’s unsaid standard for real Russianness, though. Some parents dedicated themselves and some of their offspring to crusading against “Clergy Sexual Abuse.” Clergy sexual abuse is a great evil which should never take place, and it rarely does, in the Orthodox Church, especially involving children!

                • George Michalopulos says

                  If I may pick up on a point raised by His Grace, if we were really concerned about children, we’d remove them from the public schools. Molestation as well as bullying and physical assault are way out of proportion to what is found in religious denominations.

                  Just sayin’. (And I’m a product of the public schools. Forty years ago they weren’t that great, now they’re far worse on average. That is unless you’re one of the lucky people who picked up and moved to Exurbia.)

  7. Diogenes says

    You people are nuts! The OCA is looking for someone to coordinate all allegations of improper sexual conduct. What’s the issue? This is taking a proactive approach to avoid law suits. I’m sure this person will look into any and all allegations. Every Orthodox jurisdiction should have such an office operating independently yet with complete discretion.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      There! I support Diogenes in this,especially this superb summary of the whole point of the given process:
      “This is taking a proactive approach to avoid law suits.”
      At last, right? A Church which has its priorities right? No nonsense about moralilty, sin, good and evil, the Gospel, etc., but the “real nitty-gritty”; namely; the avoidance of law suits!!!
      That IS today’s OCA!
      The “operating…with complete discretion” is an especially piquant titbit.

    • C Matley says

      Avoid law suits? How will this stop a law suit? I’d love to hear how this avoids law suits… Please, enlighten us.

      • Diogenes says

        Any investigation at the early stages of any accusation can uncover the truth at early stages. These accusations can therefore be addressed in the proper manner; whatever that may be.

      • George Michalopulos says

        C Matley, you are on to something. There’s no way that this will “avoid lawsuits.” In fact, it will increase them. And lest anybody think that lawsuits don’t happen in Church, they don’t know history very well. What has only been a trickle up til now could easily turn into a flood.

        • M. Stankovich says

          If they are justifiable lawsuits by demonstrated, actual harm against the innocent and vulnerable, your outrage is certainly misdirected. Blame the abetters and the arrogant who presumed themselves above the law or ignorant enough to imagine we were “exempt” from this sort of behaviour. Are you suggesting that victims of misconduct should feel remorse for seeking justice?

          You might be surprised to know that recent study after study shows that hospitals are considerably less likely to be sued for malpractice if they admit the error frankly and immediately. Considerably. Quite a bold move, no? The truth. Who would have thought?

          • another one says

            Mr Stankovich,

            Once again, I believe you have missed the point.

            Certainly, if there has been credible accusations, and harm, then lawsuits may follow. You make a good point regarding admission and apology with respect to malpractice cases. So admission and repentance are vital to the mix as well.

            However, the point was made by HG, with tongue firmly in cheek, that if lawsuit avoidance is our only objective, then the Church is hollow indeed. And George and C Matley’s point is that even with that objective in view, anyone can sue for any reason they like. If the OCA is spending a large chunk of a small (relatively speaking) budget on sexual misconduct, then we de facto are indicating that we have a problem of a scope justifying that expenditure. And our very fixation on the topic may draw lawsuits, justified and not.

            And accusations will still occur. Looking a the RC Annual audit for 2011, it indicates that less than one third of the accusations against clergy were credible, justifying investigations going forward. While your point about real victims of misconduct is well taken, the OCA has yet to get a handle on the size and scope of the issue.

            I have done and supervised (nonchurch related) youth work where part of the training was that adults were never to be alone with the teens ever – another adult should be present, for the protection of the adult as well as the youth. And I have stood, ears burning, as a girl told her stepfather, “If you don’t let me stay late at this party, I’ll go to my councilor at school and tell him you’ve been molesting me.” I was not intended to hear that comment, I think, but it made my blood run cold. Now, where does that man go to get his reputation back if she carried through?

            People have agendas, and passions, and sin on all sides of this question. The Church needs to acknowledge these and get to the bottom of each case, with as little fanfare as can be managed. But maybe we could start out, at least, with accusers and accused, rather than perpetrators and victims?

            If the Church’s focus was on preventing child molestation, perhaps being quite stringent about second marriages with blended families might be a more fruitful path, as unrelated males/siblings in the household may prove statistically to be a much larger source of these cases than say, Sunday school.

            Or we can worry about lawsuits.

            • M. Stankovich says

              another one,

              Good Lord, man, have you detected a pattern in my missing the point? Get in line, pal, you are hardly the first!

              You might look at what I wrote on OCAN regarding a well-known phenomenon referred to as the Werther Effect. This is a situation where the mere discussion of an issue – Werther specifically refers to suicide – results in a short-term increase of new occurrences. And this increase does not correlate with the purpose of the discussion: it is as likely to occur if you are trying to prevent it as simply acknowledging its existence. Translation: when announcing an effort to resolve present and historical cases of sexual misconduct, it would seem reasonable to predict an initial increase in accusations and requests for re-examination. Pursuant to this reasoning, I would suspect that referring to “accusers and accused, rather than perpetrators and victims” is of little consequence, the point being that according to the research, fanfare or “fixation” is irrelevant.

              I am not current with the prevalence studies of false accusations of sexual misconduct beyond the well-known and published “less than 10%” and the research from children known to have experienced sexual abuse as more likely to minimize and deny abuse, rather than exaggerate. Nevertheless, your point, “where does that man go to get his reputation back,” is well taken. The statistical error in such “high stakes” emotional situations, however, is “selection bias,” assuming an unintended over-representation where there is none. Again, it is possible that the OCA is or could be inundated with false accusation cases beyond what is seen in other comparable religious bodies in the US. Again, I see no reason why this would be the case.

              Not surprisingly, the answer to the Werther phenomenon is nearly identical to the hospital malpractice studies: all “systems” endure tremors, and the OCA is no exception, but you will end these “outbursts” of accusation and litigation (including the 10% of false accusation) by a stable, inter-connected, affectionate, respectful administration that admits wrongdoing frankly and immediately.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Mr. Stankovich says:

                Not surprisingly, the answer to the Werther phenomenon is nearly identical to the hospital malpractice studies: all “systems” endure tremors, and the OCA is no exception, but you will end these “outbursts” of accusation and litigation (including the 10% of false accusation) by a stable, inter-connected, affectionate, respectful administration that admits wrong doing frankly and immediately.

                Best thing I’ve seen you write. Unfortunately, such response is best handled as close to the scene as possible (enough distance to allow for some objectivity) by someone who is trained to deal with confidence-man manipulation. The further away and more centralized the response, the less stable, inter-connected, affectionate and respectful it will be.

                Correct me if I’m wrong, but in my limited experience, sexual offenders are somewhat less likely to admit wrong doing and genuinely seek forgiveness than many others.

              • another one says

                Mr Stankovich,

                Thank you for your thoughtful response. As an aside, does the fact that I must get in line tell you anything?

                I had not seen your material on the Werther effect, thank you for the link. I would pray that we would not see an increase in actual occurrences, but rather the reporting of occurrences, including spurious reporting. The idea that more activity of this sort would occur when addressed – as HG would say, what an [horrible] idea!

                One other nuance, if you will indulge me. The accuser and accused goes back to a time honored bedrock belief in the US – innocent until proven guilty. The studies I have examined with regard to the Church do not support a 10% false accusation figure. The percentage is orders of magnitude higher than that. Not all accusations are credible.

                My point is that a little respect and dignity all around for all persons can’t hurt, can it?

                All of this sidetracks the issue of determining the size and scope of the problem before deciding how much of the OCA limited resource should be thrown at it. If this problem justifies these hirings, then perhaps we need to look at stopping this problem long before it gets to an investigation.

                By then the damage is done.

              • M. Stankovich says

                another one,

                To clarify my point, “an initial increase in accusations and requests for re-examination” would be reasonably expected. I have no knowledge as to the impact on actual occurrences of misconduct.

                As a clinician, it is next to impossible for me to think like a “treasurer” – an equation of cost-per-case plus false accusations = two full-time positions – and I say that with no pejorative intent whatsoever. I am well aware that we are speaking of an actual budget and actual dollars, and some would suggest a remarkably foolish lack of foresight. I have been personally forced into being a “contractor” (meaning no benefits, etc.) for the same work I did as a state “employee.” I understand the reality of the fiscal dynamics

                I have been reading about the problems of determining, detecting, or descriminating for false accusations, as this seems to the real issue at hand. Not surprisingly, they are extraordinarily complex. While I defer a personal opinion, the research specific to children is quite conclusive. The most contemporaneous and authoritative studies rely on information gathered from children who have been verifiably victims of molestation (e.g. DNA evidence, video recordings), and demonstrate that these children are significantly more likely to deny and minimize, than to exagerate or misrepresent details. You can only conclude from the research that we should predict a significant under-reporting of actual cases of child molestation, not false accusations. In the most recent study I could find regarding children who “withdrew” their accusation of molestation (Alloy, L.C. , Lyon, T.D. , & Quas, J.A. (2007). Filial dependency and recantation of child sexual abuse allegations. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 46, 162-70.), they were more likely to be “unsupported by non-offending caregivers” than to have actually made false accusations.

                The issue of “coerced memories” by vindictive parents and “iatrogenic memories” induced by healthcare professionals has been raised here several times, specifically the über-drama of the McMartin Pre-School Abuse case. While there is no argument that the “abuses” were rendered by prosecutors and lives and reputations decimated, to believe that, nearly 30 years later, the forensic investigation of child molestation has not drastically evolved is ridiculous. And because cases like McMartin and anything similar were so dramatically offensive and unjust, they continue to exert a “confounding error,” leading some to be believe they are of more significance and than what is borne out in the recent research. We are morally compelled to consider each and every accusation of sexual misconduct that involves children legitimate and act accordingly. And gratefully, most states are acknowleging this by declaring clergy as mandated reporters by law.

                I do not wish to leave you with the impression, another one, that I do not appreciate the actuarial “stakes” of the connection between “reputation” and “accusation,” and, indeed, when the damage is done, it’s done. Nevertheless, you and Mr. Michalopulos have mentioned sad, but necessary precautions. Having been an intern in a large military medical center, I can tell you that in treating abused children and any child with a history of false accusation (nearly exclusively adolescent) we cycled through one-way mirrored observation, videoed sessions, and play-therapy rooms where 3 walls were glass. Likewise, Fr. Tossi noted the absurdity of priests conducting “counseling” without training or qualification, and a priest was recently sentenced to incarceration and probation for his “abusive” techniques. The point is, the prevention of false accusation sometimes means acknowledging, as you say, “agendas, and passions, and sin on all sides of this question,” and simply using precaution and common sense. Beyond that, St. Chrysostom has a wonderful statement in On the Priesthood regarding bishops, which I think makes sense here: they will always be accused from one party or another, from one character or another, rightly or wrongly. And what must they do? Bear up. Defend themselves in the manner of St. Paul and move on. I take this to mean that false accusations are predictable, inevitable, and in every case despicable. We bear them out, trusting that justice, which is not ours, will prevail.

    • You know Diogenes, like Progressives everywhere, you assert platitudes and think that by merely saying them their moral rightness turns into reality. It’s like when they say “I don’t believe children should go to bed hungry.” OK, I don’t either. How to solve the problem? Force everybody to get a job? Install videoscreens in everybody’s house like Big Brother to monitor parents? Kill the poor? Unleash Bolshevist terror and redistribute land?

      Likewise the Sex Czar. He is to “uncover the truth at early stages.” OK, how does he do that? When he gets a call from the Oaxaca, Mexico, is he going to immediately get on a plane? Does he have his passport handy? Can he speak Spanish? In the meantime, if it’s a false allegation, what is he going to do to that person who broke the Ninth Commandment and bore false witness against his neighbor? Excommunication? Is that his job? No, it’s not, it’s the local bishop’s job. Unfortunately, he inserted himself into a local problem, quite possibly sullied a man’s good name, but has no means of restitution and punishing a transgressor. And punishing the transgressor is necessary to deter further false allegations.

      Now, let’s look at this from the local angle:

      1. a jealous woman makes an accusation against her parish priest. (We’ll assume for the sake of argument that the priest is innocent.)

      2. this accusation goes to the bishop.

      3. the bishop investigates the matter. If need be, he summons a spiritual court in which both accuser and accused can see each other face to face.

      4. it becomes apparent that the woman’s story doesn’t hold up. The preponderance of evidence leans towards malice on her part.

      5. priest is acquitted. Woman who made the false accusation is excommunicated or placed under a penance. (OK, let’s say for the sake of argument she’s not Orthodox, then the priest can bring a civil action against her in a secular court.)

      The point is, the local authority (bishop) can rectify an injustice. A Sex Czar in Syosset cannot. Remember: he’s just an “investigator.”

      Now let’s assume that the priest is guilty:

      1. woman makes charge that the priest made a pass at her.

      2. bishop investigates.

      3. the priest’s story doesn’t hold up.

      4. bishop rules in favor of the woman.

      5. bishop places the priest under a suspension. Case closed. Other priests in the diocese get the message: don’t place yourself alone in the company of a woman.

  8. Herman, sick at heart says

    All this because the admin wants to appoint someone to investigate claims of abuse? In our current world situation this is probably a good idea it seems to me. Of course IO evaluate that just by looking at the current situation, and not with any lens of hatred or distrust. What a sick and horrible place this is. Backbiting, spite, anger, suspicion, accusations, bitterness, argumentation, name-calling.. it’s the satanic beatitudes. For Christ’s sake (whose name hasn’t appeared anywhere on this long, long page of comments) go to church and pray. Attend the services. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Tend to your families and be a light to the world that illumines. Do these things and we will all be saved. But this.. how many comments have I seen from potential converts that were struck by the amount of savage and horrible infighting both between factions in the OCA and jurisdictions in general. Do you have extra time on your hands? Read the Hours. Have a spare moment to collude with someone? Collude with Christ with the Jesus Prayer. May God help us all. Blessed Feast I suppose, if anyone notices such things anymore.

    • Bishop Tikhon (Fitzgerald) says

      “Herman, sick at heart” says:
      “All this because the admin wants to appoint someone to investigate claims of abuse?

      Not really, Herman, not really. Just think about it. Or would you behold the history of the Church and Her teaching and say, ‘All this because some relatives in days of yore decided to eat an apple?”

      It’s wonderful how you were able to insert so uplifting an example of moralizing based on such a demeaning reduction of the concerns of your brethren posting here. First, I recommend you follow your own advice and try not to use your fine sense of virtue to condemn others, rather than praying, fasting, and giving alms, ok? Next, use your native intelligence to try and discern what ‘all this” is really about.

      What or who, by the way, is “the admin?” I hope it’s not something like “The Met”, or “The Bish.” Just routine dehumanization.

    • Carl Kraeff says

      Good advice. I am going to take a sabbatical.

  9. cynthia curran says

    George, i think the churches need to help kids with tutoring a lot of kids are in the public schools. Not familar with Orthodox churches that do this but their are certainly plenty of Protestant and Roman Catholic churches that do. As for the bullying adminstrators are too lazy. I thought that the two boys in the late 1990’s that killed all those kids had more problems than bullying but schools need to have kids more in line and parents should demand it and parents should make their kids behave. Personality, a lot of schools now have to deal more with langauge barriers than 40 years ago since US immirgation has been high in the past 20 years similar to schools in the 1900’s and 1920’s.

  10. Daniel E. Fall says

    Large elements of this story are missing.

    What is the postiion of the leader of the OCA on the subject?

    What, if not the former ‘sex czar’ was Karlgut?

    Just questions that I didn’t see answered in the slam the concept editorial. By the way, I, like everyone else really would prefer a pristine world where none of this was needed. How about we go the RC way and just find a big rug in a large cathedral?

    Why wouldn’t this be contracted out? We certainly don’t want any conflict of interest problems.. Another unanswered question..

    • The leader of the OCA? And who might that be? Certainly not + Jonah. He is a figurehead, controlled by the synod and afraid of the MC. So who is our church leader? Oh yes, I forgot, we are a conciliar church. Really? It appears that diocesan bishops can act on their own, like Nathaniel and Matthias without checking with their diocesan councils. So it would appear that the Metropolitan is the only one who needs to be conciliar. 😉

      • Amos, the situation in the OCA has gotten to the point of being laughable. Apparently, Syosset can’t abide so much as a mention of the death of Metropolitan Constantine on the OCA website, or more than a hint at what happened in Mayfield.

        (The UOCUSA apparently only got a condolence letter from the OCA Diocese of New York, not Syosset. Did anybody from the OCA besides Bishop Melchisedek get to go to the funeral?)

        Apparently, they think we are too stupid to notice these things, or to see them stepping on Met. Jonah’s neck.

        • Good points. Not sure what was more important that +Jonah did not attend any of the services for +Constantine, but only sending +Melcheziik equates +Constantine with any diocesan bishop. A slap in the face to our Ukrainian brothers and sisters and nothing to enhance the OCA with the GOA or the EP. At the least you send the OCA bishop for External Affairs. But who is there who knows the protocol, and if Kishkovsky thought that +Mel was good enough, he should be fired. Another example of the blind leading the lame in the OCA. Pathetic.

          • Carl Kraeff says

            I think you should apologize.

          • Amos, do you know for a fact Met. Jonah wasn’t at Met. Constantine’s funeral? There were at least two people in white klobuks in attendance. One was thin and tall so that definitely wasn’t Met. Jonah, but the other had a stockier build. Unfortunately, even the high-definition video of the funeral was too blurry for me to tell for sure.

            I agree Met. Jonah should have gone if he were able, but he has to run his travel schedule by the other bishops months in advance now, and may not have been allowed to change plans.

            You are right about nobody knowing protocol anymore. Apparently nobody can figure out whether Met. Constantine was a “Beatitude” or “Eminence”. This is embarrassing.

            • Carl Kraeff says

              Fact: We are talking about an Archdiocese, not a local church
              Fact: The funeral was at Pittsburgh. The local OCA bishop actually offered a Panahida.
              Fact: Because the Archdiocese is under Constantinople, the local Exarch offered a Trisagion.

              Please tell us if you know of any etiquette or protocol that requires anybody else to attend. Throwing out platitudes and certainties like “Metropolitan Jonah should have gone” is based on what? Your personal feelings and sensibilities?

              Throwing out calumny like “he has to run his travel schedule by the other bishops months in advance now, and may not have been allowed to change plans” is based on what? Opinion, hearsay, documentation, information from primary sources? My point is that, without sourcing, this is an accusation, rumor-mongering, gossiping.

        • Carl Kraeff says

          Another disgraceful, hateful and spiteful post.

          • Michael Bauman says

            Carl, how would you suggest we express ourselves when we/you are disgusted with the actions of certain people? Refrain from anything even remotely ad hominum?

            For instance, would it have been any better if Helga had written something like: Amos, the leadership in Syossett continues to baffle me. They seem so wrong and obtuse in so many ways. I really don’t think they appreciate the intelligence and knowledge of the folks in the pews and don’t seem to care. I find such behavior to be dangerous and damaging to the Church, espeically the OCA. I hope and pray that they come to their God-given senses because I’m getting fed up–especially their unnecessary and uncanonical restrictions on Met. Jonah. (Helga, hope my translation is adequate)

            Or should she just be silent if she disagrees?

            • Michael, that’s a great translation. I will try to write more like that.

              I am really trying to not come across as bitter or antagonistic in my comments here, but sometimes my cynicism and frustration come out swinging. The Synod’s treatment of the Metropolitan is beyond all reason or justification.

              It’s also terrible that the OCA web team didn’t bother to say anything about Met. Constantine, or acknowledge Met. Jonah’s wonderful reconciliation with St. John’s Cathedral. Bishop Matthias being in the hospital, and the web team saying nothing about it, really tears it for me. By comparison, absolutely everyone in ROCOR knew Met. Hilarion went for a knee replacement in February.

              On the bright side, the Chancellor’s blog isn’t bad so far. And, I’ll give them half-credit for posting Met. Jonah’s letter, as I figure odds are at least 50/50 that he even gets to write his own archpastoral letters these days.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Helga, glad I did your thoughts justice. The point is you were fed up and although you expressed your frustration in colorful and somewhat personal terms, I did not feel as if you were really lauching an ad hominum attack of any kind–your were complaining about their actions.

        • Giving credit where credit is due, they did put a note on OCA.org about Metropolitan Constantine, although it was not on the front page, I found it buried in the “In memoriam” section.

          It’s also nice to see they noticed Metropolitan Jonah is still alive and doing stuff. If any more bishops wind up in the hospital, hopefully they will notice that, too.

          They still have a ways to go, but I did think it was only fair to note the improvement.

      • Carl Kraeff says

        Disgraceful, hateful and spiteful post.