Source: The National Herald
NEW YORK – The Holy Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese of America on October 13 made a unanimous decision to defrock George Passias due to the sexual scandal he is embroiled in with Ethel Bouzalas.
Archdiocese Issues Statement on Recent Scandal – Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
October 6, 2015
NEW YORK – In recent days, with heavy heart we have been confronted with a most regrettable matter involving a member of our Clergy, Rev. Fr. George Passias, and an adult female parishioner. We acknowledge the expected reaction of the faithful to feel deeply hurt and utterly disappointed, and the serious danger of scandalization. At the same time we know that the only one who walked on the face of this earth and was sinless was our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We assure the faithful that we are painfully aware of what has occurred and has so grievously impacted the life of our Archdiocese and community. As a result, the Archdiocese has already initiated the ecclesiastically appropriate procedures, starting with the suspension of the involved clergyman from any and all priestly activities.
As with any difficulty, these moments allow us the opportunity to truly demonstrate our Faith in the response we offer. We ought to feel sorry for those who allowed themselves to fall into such a grievous state and pray for them and their families who have been deeply hurt by their actions. We also pray for the faithful, especially the young people of our community, whose faith has been shaken by what they have seen and read in the media. On the other hand we know that our Church in America has been abundantly blessed with devoted and pious clergy who truly labor in a Christ-like manner to proclaim the message of the gospel and to minister to the people of God.
We pray that the almighty God, a God of mercy, justice and truth, will send down His Holy Spirit and grant sincere repentance to those directly involved and healing to those who have been impacted by their actions.
Passias and His Posse of Enablers – The National Herald
October 15, 2015
During my recent meetings in Athens, almost all of the conversations began with questions directed at me about Fr. George Passias.
They wanted me to give them the “Inside Story,” to tell them more than what they already learned from our pages and from other outlets. But they already knew just about everything in Greece that we know here. Such is the global reach of mass media.
Through the wonders of the Internet, the impression that The National Herald circulates, through its webpages, in Greece as well as in the United States, is quite vivid.
Greeks throughout the world, but also non-Greeks in the United States, are well-aware of who George Passias is. A priest whose actions have been anything but an honorable emblem of our Greek-American community.
Some in Athens speak – quite hypocritically, of course – about our clergy so disparagingly, as if such problems are exclusive to our community, and as if Greek-Americans as a whole must be held responsible for the actions of one individual.
Granted, this is not the first time Passias has behaved this way. He had a long track record in the parishes he served prior to St. Spyridon.
Moreover, this is, surely and sadly, not the first scandal involving a Greek-Orthodox priest or bishop that we’ve seen over the past few decades. And judging from open wounds left untreated and uncontrolled in other parts of the country – in Chicago, for example – it certainly won’t be the last.
What is clear is that the church as a body lacks the necessary preventive mechanisms: the ability to detect and deny troubling people entry into its clergy, and a qualified and trustworthy body to adjudicate such matters and administer discipline accordingly.
Defrocking Passias was the least the church authorities should have done. Therefore, they are not absolved from the responsibility they bear for having transferred him from one community to the next over the years, where in time he would repeat the same offenses over and over.
Passias has caused considerable damage; the consequences of his actions will haunt our community – clergy and laity alike – for years. Accordingly, his defrocking was necessary and appropriate hardly renders this matter closed.
We need to identify those responsible for the cover-up of this man’s unholy course, to make sure they are held accountable for their actions– in a way that makes an example of them, so as to underscore that the days of tolerating transgressors and their accomplices are over.[subscribe2]