Letter to the Editor: Bishops Are Puzzling

Author: Archbishop Dmitri Royster
Date Published: 06/15/2002

I am puzzled by some statements made recently by participants in the conference of Roman Catholic bishops concerning the problem of what to do with priests who are guilty of sexual abuses, homosexual and other behavior. Some have seemed hesitant to adopt the “zero tolerance” policy advocated by others, calling for mercy on those guilty of only one offense. It would seem natural and prudent that they consult the Church’s canons — these still held in common with the Orthodox Church, the Apostolic Canons — which are clear enough: Those guilty of such sins and crimes can repent, even be restored to communion with the Church. But continue as priests? Never. They are to be deposed, for their own sake, and for the sake of those who trust the clergy as having a responsibility for guiding others to salvation.

Offering forgiveness and mercy is not inconsistent with proper discipline and maintaining order within the Body of Christ. The age-old canons of the Church are based on Scripture, and they exist, in part, to prevent the kind of confusion that seems to be revolving around this particular issue at this time.

Archbishop Dmitri
Archbishop of Dallas and the South
Orthodox Church in America