Melanie Jula Sakoda comments on Metropolitan Methodios Boston Globe remarks on the Koveos case

Author: Melanie Jula Sakoda
Date Published: 04/07/2002

Melanie Jula Sakoda comments on Metropolitan Methodios’ Boston Globe remarks on the Koveos case

Dear Editors,

I noticed that you republished the Boston Globe article, “All faiths question handling of abuse.” In that article, Michael Paulson wrote the following:

“And the Greek Orthodox Diocese of Boston has had just one recent known case of child sexual abuse, according to Metropolitan Methodios, the presiding hierarch. In that case, a third-generation Vermont priest, the Rev. Emmanuel Koveos, was convicted of fondling a 12-year-old girl; in 1999, Methodios prevailed upon the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople to expel Koveos from the priesthood.

‘We tend to deal with it directly, and not scandalize it,’ Methodios said. ‘We feel that a priest has to be suspended, whether he is guilty or not, until a full investigation takes place, and if there is anything to the allegations, he is dismissed and defrocked.'”

I notice that you added references to earlier articles published on Orthodox News about the Koveos case. However, those references need to be placed in context.

Emmanuel Koveos was convicted of child abuse in February of 1998. While Koveos was suspended from the priesthood immediately following his arrest in January of 1997, he was not deposed by the Ecumenical Patriarch until December of 1999. According to your publication, Metropolitan Methodios did not even press this issue with the Patriarch until sometime after August of 1999, when the victim’s mother threatened to sue if he was not defrocked.

Moreover, according to the Hellenic Chronicle, Koveos directly disobeyed Metropolitan Methodios by refusing to vacate the rectory of the church where the crimes were committed.

Sometime after finally leaving the Vermont parish in June of 1998, Koveos began serving as a cantor in another Orthodox parish which was renting facilities from Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church in Lowell, MA.

After this came to light in December of 1999, the Metropolitan then had to order Koveos “to cease any activity related to parish life.”

Moreover, there is evidence that Koveos had been a problem priest for years prior to his 1997 arrest, as early as 1972.

The case of Emmanuel Koveos was certainly not as cut and dried as presented in the Boston Globe article, or as described by Metropolitan Methodios.

While the Orthodox Church, being smaller, may not match the Catholics in sheer numbers, it is not any better at dealing with clergy sexual abuse. Two other cases involving the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese help to illustrate this. In addition to the problem of continuing to allow abusive priests access to children, the Orthodox Church faces the additional problem of deposed priests who continue to function as clergymen by either joining other Orthodox jurisdictions, or even forming their own.

Melanie Jula Sakoda
www.pokrov.org
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Editor’s Note: Ms. Sakoda is one of the principals of The Protection of the Theotokos website, www.pokrov.org