Antiochian Western Diocese episcopal appointment causes concern
On Wednesday, October 26, a press conference was held outside the St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles, reports pokrov.org . The topic was unpleasant, but one which has many in the diocese deeply concerned—clergy and laity alike.
In a letter dated October 6, His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America announced the appointment of Bishop Demetri as vicar bishop of the Diocese of the West, saying “I would like and expect you to welcome His Grace Bishop DEMETRI to your parishes and to treat him as though I myself was visiting you.”
The concern arises from Bishop Demetri Matta Khoury’s February 25, 2004 conviction for attempted fourth degree criminal sexual misconduct. He was arrested July 9, 2003 after appearing plain-clothed and visibly intoxicated in a Michigan casino where he grabbed a woman’s breast. He stated that he didn’t remember the night, but plead guilty after viewing the casino’s security footage.
He was sentenced to twenty-eight days in jail with two years of probation, and required to register as a sex offender, although his conviction and classification were both later revoked after he appealed in 2014.
Bishop Demetri was granted retirement following his conviction, but while still a registered sex offender was appointed as auxiliary bishop for the Antiochian Archdiocese of Mexico, though the Synod again retired him in 2009 due to public outcry.
Given this history, many are concerned about personal safety, and struggling to understand this move on the part of Met. Joseph, what message the diocese is sending about sexual abuse, and how to best proceed in this difficult situation.