Critical Moment For The Church
Our church is in the midst of a crisis. The revelations and accusations against clergymen, like the latest ones against Father Demetrios Rekatsinas (see story on front page), follow each other in rapid succession. Our people are scandalized, they are anxious about the future. They want to hear what the person in charge of the church here in America, Archbishop Demetrios, has to say.
Yet he continues to remain silent. Intentionally. It is a strategic decision. He remains silent in the mistaken belief that the scandals will somehow go away by themselves. That in a short period of time from now, it will all be forgotten. Thus, why dignify the story with a “response” they argue.
We heard the same thing with the crisis at the Saint George community of Lynn, Massachussetts – Silence. We made a written request for an interview. We stressed how important it was that our community hear the opinion of the Archbishop. His answer: Silence.
We believe that an important part of the duties of an Archbishop include the responsibly of communicating with the community, holding press conferences and answering questions that arise, periodically.
Still he is the only Archbishop that does not do that. The only one.
This failure to communicate is not only an abrogation of his responsibilities and an afront to the community, but also widens the leadership vacuum that already exists at the top of the church leadership.
Our church has paid $18 million so far to settle suits for sexual misbehavior by its clergy. Aside from the fact that the Archdiocese has strengthened its insurance policy – a positive development- they have not taken any precautionary steps to make sure that new recruits to the priesthood do not present similar problems in the future.
It is not really as complicated as it seems: the world of the clergy is a small world. And they like to talk. In that world, there are no secrets, especially those of any consequence. News travels fast and usually reaches Archdiocese authorities quickly.
When that happens, instead of being proactive and investigating a case and dealing with the clergy involved, the Archdiocese, at best, ignores the warnings and, at worst, covers it up, hoping that neither TNH nor anybody else will hear about it.
Astoundingly, along with a cover-up, Church authorities heap praise on the parties involved, even after they submit their resignation, as in the case of Father Demetrios Recachinas.
We believe that this tactic helps no one. Not the priest, who needs urgent therapy, and not the community, which finds itself in a most uncomfortable situation and who eventually becomes so frustrated as to take its case to the media in order to draw attention to the problem.
Our community depend to a large extent on our church. It is vital that we maintain a strong church.
However serious accusations of a moral nature create confusion, raise questions, bring about apathy and disappointment – leading many people to simply avoid going to churches.
We need to make certain that we, as Christians, make a distriction between a priest and our entire church. We do not go to church because of a priest, even though a good or a not-so-good priest does make a difference. We go to church because of Christ, seeking our salvation.
However the problem is more serious than it seems. Take, for example, the responses Bishop Andonios gave to our questions:
TNH: Why did father Recachinas resign?
Andonios: For personal reasons…The only thing I can tell you is that he resigned for personal reasons.
TNH: Was he involved in something unethical?
Andonis: Not necessarily.
Amazing, is it not?