Metropolitan Isaiah Challenges Katinas Settlement
In a letter dated December 3, 2008, Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver accuses the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of wrongly settling the Katinas sex-abuse case. In the letter that he ordered read from the pulpit or mailed to all parishioners in his Metropolis, Metropolitan Isaiah wrote,
“As you may have noticed, neither the parish of Holy Trinity in Dallas, nor you Metropolis were part of this decision. The reason for this is that there was no evidence of any cover-up by anyone in the parish or at the Metropolis. The initial accusation, therefore, against anyone the parish or of my office were false. I personally wanted a trial by jury; but our superiors in New York decided that the matter had been protracted to the point that it was not helping our people, and therefore chose to close it with an out of court decisions.”
“Not true” responded Pokrov.org, the sexual abuse watchdog group of the American Orthodox Church. In a letter written December 22, 2008 , Melanie Julie Sakoda, president of Prokrov, called on Archbishop Demetrios to discipline Met. Isaiah:
“Metropolitan Isaiah writes that allegations of a cover-up by his diocese and the Dallas church are false. In fact, he claims that there is no evidence whatsoever that these charges are true. However, Pokrov has in its files material submitted to the court before the case was sealed. Contrary to the metropolitan’s claim, there is indeed evidence supporting the allegations of a cover-up.”
Pokrov asks the Holy Eparchial Synod to call Metropolitan Isaiah to account for his recent comments. He should be disciplined, as well as ordered to apologize to the five men. It is disgraceful for the metropolitan to now charge that “there was no cover-up by anyone in the parish or at the Metropolis” when the claims against both the church and the diocese were dismissed in the confidential settlement agreement.
Metropolitan Isaiah, unwittingly perhaps, cast the entire Archdiocesan effort to close the Katinas case because “it was not helping our people” into serious doubt. Parishioners of the Greek Orthodox Church are witnesses to the unsavory spectacle of a sitting Metropolitan accusing his fellow hierarchs of settling charges that he alleges are false, while the hierarchs, by settling the case, essentially affirm as true.
Consequently, the case is not at all closed, despite the Court’s requirement that the record remains sealed.
Questions parishioners need to ask are:
Why were the court records sealed? What percentage of parish assessments was used to pay for the settlement? How will the settlement be recorded in financial statements? What reporting policies and procedures were not followed?
Further, if a cover-up occurred as Pokrov alleges, what assurances do parishioners have that no other cover-ups occurred? What disciplines have been imposed on the leaders involved in the cover-up? Are there other priests in active service whose crimes are being covered up?
The hierarchs have performed a terrible disservice to the Church. If criminality occurred, hiding it is the worst road to take, as the experiences of the Roman Catholic Church make abundantly clear. The failure to confront Mr. Katinas’ crimes with transparency only creates more suspicion in the end.
Further, if the leadership refuses to give a full accounting of the settlement (including whether or not private donations were requested and a line item in the budget where these donations were received and disbursed), we know that the cover-up continues. If the leadership argues that they cannot reveal the amount of the settlement, they can bundle it in with other payouts. Not reporting anything however, is not acceptable.
On the other hand, if no criminality occurred as Metropolitan Isaiah asserts, then parishioners need an explanation why a settlement was offered and no trial by jury was held. Here too the requirements of financial transparency must be met.
Sometimes though, you wonder if they just don’t get it. Archbishop Demetrios resisted the defrocking of (then) Fr. Katinas until his hand was forced. Metropolitan Alexios serves liturgy with a priest who pled no contest to the molestation of a young girl, and brings a retired (but not defrocked) Bishop who was caught with a young man in a park to his summer camp. Metropolitan Isaiah asserts the Katinas charges are not true. Some of our newly ordained bishops have obvious sexual-identity issues.
You wonder if their lack of any experience with raising children leaves them unequipped to make any coherent decision regarding them.