Group questions commitment of Greek Orthodox bishop to child abuse prevention
A Denver Greek Orthodox bishop recently informed his entire diocese that April is Child Abuse Awareness Month in the United States. However, a national clergy abuse support group questions his commitment to addressing this serious problem.
In a March 6, 2008, letter Metropolitan Isaiah (Chronopoulos) encouraged parishes in the Metropolis of Denver “to become more aware of child abuse, to become more proactive in its prevention, and to support programs that help children suffering from abuse.”
However, leaders of Pokrov (a support group for Orthodox Christian abuse survivors) point out that the official letter is like a bad April Fool’s joke. A Dallas lawsuit for child sexual abuse against a now defrocked priest who served under the metropolitan, Nicholas Katinas, also names the “Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Denver, by and through Bishop Isaiah in his official capacity” as a defendant. The action makes the very serious allegation that Metropolitan Isaiah was aware of earlier accusations against Katinas from the priest’s Illinois parish, which were reported to the Metropolis of Chicago in the late seventies. At the time, Metropolitan Isaiah was the chancellor of that diocese. During the same month that the metropolitan sent out his message about child abuse awareness, a fifth victim was added to the Texas suit.
In addition, although the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) had already announced to Katinas’ Dallas parish that the priest had engaged in serious moral transgressions, Metropolitan Isaiah later visited and spoke out in support of Katinas. The bishop also allowed the diocesan attorneys to petition the court (unsuccessfully) to have the victims’ names made public.
“Pokrov questions whether Metropolitan Isaiah truly understands the issue of child abuse, given his known actions in the Katinas case. Moreover, if the allegations of the Dallas lawsuit are true, the bishop has allowed a man he knew was an abuser to remain in active ministry for decades,” said Melanie Jula Sakoda, a spokesperson for Pokrov.
“Disturbingly, the metropolitan also allowed another accused priest to remain in a Metropolis of Denver parish for nearly four years after receiving written allegations of sexual misconduct,” Sakoda continued. Fr. Gabriel Barrow, who served a parish in Toledo, Ohio, as well as one in Houston, Texas, was ultimately removed from the priesthood in May of 2005.
Sakoda also added that anyone who has information on how Metropolitan Isaiah has handled other cases of sexual misconduct should come forward. Reports can be made to Pokrov at 415-820-9645 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pokrov is a website which went online in June of 1999. It was founded by three Orthodox women who wanted to see the problem of sexual abuse in the Orthodox churches addressed. Pokrov is the Russian word for protection. There are a dozen or more Orthodox jurisdictions in the U.S. in addition to the GOA.
Metropolitan Isaiah oversees the Denver diocese of the GOA, which includes some 50 churches in an area from Montana to Texas. His title, Metropolitan, is one given to some bishops.