Source: Greek Orthodox Christian Clergy and Laity
Last week, a movie opened in theatres that critics say will receive a “Best Picture” nomination at this year’s Academy Awards:
“Spotlight” tells the true story of a 2002 Boston Globe investigative team that blew the cover off of the massive child sex abuse scandal kept secret by the Catholic church.
The trailer can be seen here, and features the following text:
“To break the story, they broke the silence.”
In the trailer, a reporter states he has two stories he must decide between…one about degenerate priests, or the other about the church lawyers who tried to block all information from being investigated. These same two stories are happening right now within the Greek Orthodox Church.
Over the years, one scandal after another has rocked the Greek Orthodox Church.
Recently at our sister site, GoTruthReform.org, a lay member details more scandals in the GOA that we have not touched on, and shares comments by the faithful, who have clearly lost all trust in the GOA.
These scandals have been brought to the Greek Orthodox Church Hierarchy in America by concerned laity and clergy. The response from the Greek Orthodox Church leaders has been the same as the Catholic church: denial and cover-up.
It took the media and courageous people, like those Boston Globe reporters, to pursue and expose the truth. When the truth was exposed, the Catholic Church finally acknowledged the wrongs, and released the information that had been held secret for so long.
And as the world watched this all unfold over the last decade, the Greek Orthodox Church leaders have learned nothing.
The “no snitch” code is alive and well in the Greek Orthodox Church.
The “no snitch” code is the same unwritten rule that helps violent street gangs thrive, and enables organized crime to operate smoothly.
This code appears to be the ‘modus operandi’ in the Greek Orthodox Church….from the ruling hierarchs, to the priests, to the majority of the laity, who would prefer to go to church and just “light my candle”.
We recognize and are grateful to the few brave clergy and lay people who spoke up instead of adhering to the “no snitch” code.
But what became of them?
The few clergy who have chosen to follow their moral code instead of the “no-snitch” code have been chastised or re-assigned to less desirable locations, despite their years of service and accomplishments. Those who overlook questionable behavior in the ranks are rewarded with prize parishes…even those fresh out of seminary.
We know of countless numbers of Greek Orthodox lay individuals who have left the Greek Orthodox Church because they see no hope of change. These people were at one time devout, frequent worshippers and heavily involved volunteers in the ministries of the church. They have left. They are gone. Most of these individuals would only come back if they knew church leaders were committed to addressing the major ills, and hold those who are responsible accountable.
As believers in Christian principles, what have we become?
The Greek Orthodox Church has adopted the same “no snitch” culture being used by street gangs and organized crime, to protect their own!
We have seen the “no-snitch” code of conduct at every turn with the Fr. Dokos scandal, and most recently in the Fr. Passias scandal.
Chancellor Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, appears to be a big fan and enforcer of the “no snitch” code, as seen with his lax investigation of sexual impropriety at St. Spyridon in 2012, as well as complaints about Passias’ financial dealings at this parish, and at previous parishes he served. On top of that, when an audit revealed problems, what did Chancellor Bishop Andonios do? Deny and cover up! Chancellor Bishop Andonios must, of course, protect his own!
What became of the ‘whistleblower’ who pleaded with church officials to intervene? He resigned – a good faithful servant who did what the Lord asks, yet the leaders turned their backs on him.
Like Bishop Andonios, The Metropolis of Chicago church leaders denied any wrongdoing with regard to Fr. Dokos, when incontrovertible evidence was brought to them. Was it because they were complicit?
What happened to the whistleblowers in the Dokos scandal?
After the Annunciation board members went to the authorities, they were criticized by Bishop Demetrios, who stated “the parish has gone rogue” according to the Chicago Tribune. Bishop Demetrios was further warned by the prosecutors in the Dokos case from further intimidating witnesses, the very Parish Board which had blown the whistle.
In addition, we heard countless members of the clergy criticize Fr. Artemas for having “turned on one of his own” in supporting the pursuit of an investigation.
We have heard from the very mouths of clergy members beholden to the Metropolis, that Fr. Artemas should have overlooked the situation given this was a fellow brother ordained in the faith.
There are undoubtedly many priests in the GOA who do not support this notion, but few if any, have spoken out against it. These priests fear retaliation in a “no snitch” culture so as to maintain their livelihood.
The above cases in point reflect situations we only know about through exposure in the media. Since these situations have been brought to light, we have been made aware of many more stories and information that have not been made public, given the fear of intimidation and consequences that will follow.
- Good, moral lay leaders face intimidation or resign.
- Good, moral clergy are intimidated and re-assigned to less desirable circumstances
- Those who speak the truth are punished, and those who keep quiet are rewarded.
- Hierarchal leaders ignore criminal activity, and passively allow false teachers to lead.
Are these truths reflective of a Christ-centered church, or are they more representative of the methods of a street gang or organized crime ring?
REFORM IS NEEDED NOW!!!
At this moment Chicago citizens, Christian and non-Christian alike, are demanding accountability from city officials who covered up and supported the “no-snitch” code to protect their own. As of Dec. 1st, 2015, the Chicago Chief of Police was fired because the citizens demanded accountability.
Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy Fired
As Orthodox Christians, why isn’t our laity demanding the same accountability from the church?
PUSH FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AND SIGN THE PETITION!
Q. Apparently the “Code of Silence” has worked again and Fr. Dokos and Bishop Demetrios will get away with their misdeeds. Without new publicity will this whole matter be quietly dropped?
A. The bishop has not been criminally charged. His involvement with Dokos and his attempts, along with those of Metropolitan Iakovos, to help Dokos escape the consequences of his alleged theft are morally indefensible and should have resulted in their removal from office.
I do not believe that the criminal case will be “dropped quietly”. Dokos will either plead guilty or go to trial .. unless he dies before the case is adjudicated. The Tribune (and TNH) have reported about the Dokos matter so many times that I’m confident that they will cover the disposition of the criminal case, whether it is a guilty plea; a trial to verdict.. or the repose of Dokos before trial, which would leave judgment TBD in the next world. The importance of the Kantzavelos/Dokos scandal to the Church is far greater than the final disposition of the Milwaukee criminal case against Jim Dokos. The failure of leadership shown by the Archbishop (and Patriarchate) has caused and continues to cause damage to the institution that may have already reached the tipping point. The failure of the “good priests” to speak out and break the “code of silence” that permits scandals to go unreported; covered-up; excused; and even when finally exposed, often unpunished, means that reform is never undertaken. Proper procedures and safeguards are never proposed and implemented.
Sadly, the clergy “code of silence” referred to below is passively accepted by the laity. With almost no exceptions the lay leadership of the GOA, from the Archdiocesan, Metropolis and Parish levels has abdicated any responsibility for addressing the institutional problems facing the Church. In addition to financial and sexual misconduct, what about the rise of fundamentalism and Ephramite clergy who are infecting and disrupting parishes around the country? Where is the outcry from the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council, or the Council as a whole? Where is the outcry from the Metropolis Councils? From the Parish Councils of 500+ Parishes? Where is the outpouring of support (financial and vocal) for the OCL, the only movement I’m aware of that has been advocating for transparency and accountability in Church governance in the US? I’ve been involved long enough to understand that the vast majority of those “Greek Orthodox Christians who have not already left the Church either don’t know or don’t want to know about the problems the Church is refusing to face. For them, the Church is a place to go to for weddings, baptisms, funerals, memorial services and “Church picnics”. Assuming the usual 80/20 Rule applies, that takes care of at least 80% of the “members” of the Church. What about the remaining 20%.. or even 15% or 10% The ones who know what’s going on and who say and do nothing?
Your observation about the need for “new publicity” begs the question: “How, and by whom will such publicity be generated?” There are more than a few websites in addition to ocl.org that are addressing these issues. So far, this publicity has not resulted in any action by Church leaders, clergy or laity. The Orthodox in the US are probably not even one (1%) percent of the total population. Why would the mainstream media: NY Times, WSJ, Chicago Tribune et al give the Orthodox Church the amount of publicity that might move the leadership of the Church to make the needed changes? If the “good priests” and the grass-roots laity don’t speak-up and act soon, there will be little of what our grandparents and parents built in America. “Greek” Orthodoxy in America will exist in a few fundamentalist parishes and the mysteriously funded, lavish Ephramite “monasteries”.