Canada- Bishops refuse to defrock convicted molester colleague
For immediate release: Tuesday, March 25, 2014
Victims’ group blasts Orthodox Church officials
Synod of bishops “retires” convicted archbishop
He was accused of molesting two 11 year old boys
“Retiring is what happens to an older person,” victims say
SNAP: “Censuring, punishing, denouncing is what should happen to a criminal”
Members of an abuse survivors’ group are angry that Orthodox Church officials are refusing to defrock Canada’s highest ranking archbishop who was found guilty of molesting a child in January.
Last week, leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, wrote to the Synod of Bishops begging them to defrock the convicted cleric. Instead, at a meeting late last week, Orthodox Church in America (OCA) officials opted to ‘retire’ the child molesting archbishop.
SNAP leaders believe the OCA’s sexual misconduct policy calls for the church hierarchy to permanently oust Archbishop Seraphim Storheim from ministry. The guidelines, approved by the OCA’s synod at their Fall 2013 meeting, state that “Any clergy … found to have committed child sexual abuse … shall be deposed by the Holy Synod of Bishops, and shall be permanently prohibited from exercising any functions or responsibilities of parish ministry. …”
“Once again, the OCA treads lightly with a child molesting cleric,” said Cappy Larson of SNAP. “Once again, they refuse to follow their own policy.”
“Retiring is what happens when someone becomes too old to do their job,” continued Melanie Sakoda, also of SNAP. “Censuring, punishing, and denouncing is what should happen to a criminal. I guess the Synod of Bishops makes an exception when the criminal convicted of sexually assaulting a child is a high ranking church official.”
Both women are also concerned that the OCA does not have the resources or the will to insure that the restrictions imposed by the church on Storheim’s ministry are actually enforced.
Larson wondered, “Given the many vocal people who believe that the archbishop is innocent, despite his conviction, who is actually going make sure that he doesn’t go to any churches other than the Chapel of Saint Silouan (Spencerville, ON) and Holy Trinity Church (Edmonton, AB)?”
“More importantly,” Sakoda interjected, “who is monitoring his contact with kids who might be at either of these two places? It wouldn’t be the first time that the OCA has turned the other way when youngsters are exposed to predators masquerading as men of God.”
“Defrocking Archbishop Seraphim would have sent a clear message that child sexual abuse is not tolerated in the OCA,” concluded Larson. “Instead, the bishops refusal to do anything but the bare minimum. This helps a criminal and hurts his victims. What’s to stop the archbishop from using his religious title and position to get access to and hurt another children?”
From 1990 until his suspension in November of 2010, Storheim headed the OCA’s Archdiocese of Canada and was based in Ottawa, Ontario. Prior to that he worked in Edmonton and other cities in Alberta, Winnipeg in Manitoba, London, also in Ontario, Charlotte, North Carolina in the United States, and in Finland.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 25 years and have more than 15,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)