Mich. Orthodox bishop accused of sexual misconduct

Author: Mark Hicks
Date Published: 09/03/2015
(Photo: hollyascension.org)
(Photo: hollyascension.org)

An Orthodox bishop in Michigan with ties to Metro Detroit is under investigation amid allegations of sexual misconduct, church authorities said.

Irineu Duvlea, an auxiliary bishop with the Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America also listed as Bishop of Dearborn Heights, is “presumed innocent pending the outcome of the investigation,” according to a statement posted Tuesday on the website for the group.

However, as required under policies by the Orthodox Church in America’s Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations, Bishop Duvlea has been “placed on leave of absence and does not have a blessing to serve liturgically in our Episcopate or at any other location,” the statement read.

The statement, which did not detail the allegations, was attributed to Nathaniel Popp, archbishop of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate, who added: “The process is highly confidential, and no one should discuss the investigation with anyone.”

Popp did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night. Duvlea could not be reached.

In a statement Thursday, members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said they welcomed the church investigation “since disclosures encourage others who experienced, witnessed or suspected abuse to come forward.” But they wanted more information and expressed concern about authorities appearing to limit it.

“Did the misconduct involve a parishioner? If so, was the victim a child, an adult, a male, a female? How many victims have come forward?” Cappy Larson said. “More complete disclosure can help to jog memories and reassure other survivors, producing additional testimony and evidence.”

According to the Orthodox Church in America website, Duvlea, born in 1962, was ordained in 1984 and became archimandrite of the Brancoveanu Monastery in Romania.

In 2001, he and a group of monks from that country were granted a canonical release to launch a monastic community in Michigan, according to the website. Duvlea later was appointed abbot of what is known as the Holy Ascension Monastery, which started in Detroit and eventually moved to Clinton in Lenawee County, church officials said.

As an abbot, “he has labored tirelessly to offer hospitality and comfort not only to the Romanian community, but to the entire Orthodox population of Greater Detroit and the Midwest,” church officials said on the website.

Monastery staffers did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday night.