Greek Orthodox Church defrocks ex-Sylvania pastor

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Date Published: 05/13/2005

A former pastor of St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Sylvania who was ousted from the denomination in 1977 and later switched affiliations to the Greek Orthodox Church, has been defrocked by that denomination also, officials said.

Gabriel Barrow, 59, of Houston, who was pastor of St. Elias from 1972 until 1977, was accused of sexually abusing three boys in Toledo in the 1970s.

Metropolitan Philip, leader of the 450,000-member U.S. Antiochian Orthodox Church, barred Mr. Barrow from the denomination on Oct. 10, 1977, citing ”reasons beyond my control,” but offering no further explanation.

After leaving Toledo, Mr. Barrow returned to his hometown of Houston and worked as a teacher in the Houston Independent School District.

During the mid-1990s, he was accepted into the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and served as a pastor in Webster, Texas.

A former Detroit resident who said he was 16 when Mr. Barrow molested him in Toledo in 1975 reported his allegations to the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese headquarters in 1998 and was told that Mr. Barrow had been removed from the ministry.

When the victim discovered that Mr. Barrow was a Greek Orthodox priest, he reported his allegations to Greek archdiocesan officials.

The Greek church held a tribunal in New York in June, 2004, in which the victim, now 46, said he and three others testified about the alleged abuse.

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Constantinople, head of the world’s 250 million Orthodox Christians, defrocked Mr. Barrow several months ago, according to Nikki Stephanopoulos, director of communications for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. She said there had been no formal announcement or further explanation.

The former Detroit resident who made the allegations said yesterday that he still doesn’t feel a sense of closure with Mr. Barrow being defrocked.

”I would feel that justice is done when he is behind bars, when the statute of limitations and the laws are changed to allow survivors to come forward in their own time, and when the archbishops of both archdioceses stand in the pulpit and apologize to the people,” said the victim, who asked not to be identified.

Mr. Barrow, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, had been planning to retire in May, 2004, from the Houston Independent School District, officials said last year. They did not return phone calls yesterday.