Founder of Holy Transfiguration Monastery named controversial by watchdog group

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Date Published: 04/17/2000

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, April 14, 2000 (POTT) — In light of many allegations of spiritual and sexual abuse perpetrated at Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Brookline, MA, the monastery has been added as a controversial group by Protection of the Theotokos web site for victims of abuse in the Orthodox church (www.pokrov.org).

According to some former monastics at Holy Transfiguration, the monastery’s founder and elder, a Fr. Panteleimon (AKA John Metropoulos), taught a secret “spiritual sexuality” which was allegedly handed down from his elder on Mt. Athos (often called “The Holy Mountain”). Many former monstics claim they were coerced into sexual acts because of a “cult mentality” used by Fr. Panteleimon. At least one former monk claims that Fr. Panteleimon used quotes from the ancient church teachings, and scriptures to explain his sexual acts which started with fondling and resulted in further sexual contact.

Holy Transfiguration Monastery began in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1960. After some time in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts the monastery moved to a three-story mansion. The property is a wooded area which is nearly 20 acres and is the home of about 35 monastics. The monastery is known for its translations and publication of church texts and its icon reproductions. The monastery’s published history states that “(Panteleimon) became a monk on Mt. Athos in Greece in the Russian monastery of St. Panteleimon’s. He also learned much about monasticism under the Athonite hesychast (solitary) fathers of New Skete of the Holy Mountain, Athos.”

Sexual abuse by clergy is in the news all over the world, and the oldest sect of Christianity, the Orthodox Christian faith, is no exception. Sexual exploitation of seminarians and parishioners by clergy — and even clergy against other clergy is an unfortunate fact. The teachings of Jesus Christ and the Orthodox faith traditions are adamant that sexual abuse is not to occur, especially at the hands of spiritual leaders. Personality cults arise around a certain clergy member or spiritual elder. Cult abuse may be found in monastery or church setting when the followers are under submission to a “spiritual father.”

Protection of the Theotokos web site began in June of 1999 in order to address the global problem of sexual and cult abuse in the Eastern Orthodox church. The site (www.pokrov.org) is available for victims of abuse in the Orthodox faiths (Greek, Russian, Serbian, Antiochian, Coptic, Byzantine and others). Protection of the Theotokos, (Theotokos is the Greek word for Mary, the Mother of God) is combating this distortion of Christian leadership by offering articles on prevention and recovery, news articles, prayers for victims, resources and listings of Orthodox perpetrators and controversial groups.

Founded in June of 1999, Protection of the Theotokos is the only resource currently available specifically for victims of clergy abuse in the Orthodox faith. The web site can be reached at www.pokrov.org.