Lack of understanding

Author: Staff
Date Published: 03/10/2007
Publication: The National Herald

There are at least two instances in which Demetrios’ actions portray a state of mind we find worrisome:

First, his attempt to persuade this newspaper not to publish the story, so as not to scandalize the flock (we had known of the case for some months but were unable to verify the accusations against Father Katinas, so we refrained from publishing any stories about it earlier). But when the Archdiocese representative told the Dallas parish there is “no doubt” Father Nick engaged in immoral behavior, and when the local Dallas media broke the story, we were very well positioned to shed more light on what is involved with the case, which is our duty.

While it’s true that stories like these tarnish the Church’s image, a priest who is accused of committing such heinous crimes, and who might also have a history of doing so, should not be transferred from community to community, unsettling the lives of entire families and congregations, as was the case with some Catholic priests.

Second, what message does a mild punishment send to other priests who might be committing similar crimes? Don’t worry if you’re caught because you’ll be protected?

Third, it’s difficult to understand why His Eminence was dragging his feet with the Holy Eparchial Synod. As we reported last week, he was “visibly bothered” by questions posed by his fellow hierarchs and said, “Father Katinas has admitted his mistake. He is already retired, and is of advanced age.”

Does that absolve Father Nick of responsibility for any crimes he might have committed? What about the lives and rights of the alleged victims? How do they feel about seeing their oppressors being protected? How do they feel about being denied moral and monetary compensation in their efforts to put their lives back together?

The Archbishop should take a page out of the Jaharis book. Mr. Jaharis understands the need to be forthcoming, and to inform our community as far as legal restrictions permit.

Among other things, Mr. Jaharis tells us that most of these cases go back a long way — before Demetrios was enthroned, even to the time when Archbishop Iakovos was in charge. While this also raises important questions, it does not excuse Demetrios from his responsibility, since some cases broke under his watch.

“We might have insurance that covers recent cases, but not from the distant past,” Mr. Jaharis said. Given the general milieu, especially within the Catholic Church, and the history of our own Church on clergy sex abuse, it should not surprise anyone that insurance companies refuse to insure us.

Meanwhile, an attorney for one of the victims told Mr. Kalmoukos that she is suing the Archdiocese. Given its shaky finances, this case, and perhaps others like it which we don’t know about yet, might indeed “easily create a major problem.”