OH–Ousted abusive bishop back on the job

Author: Melanie Jula Sakoda
Date Published: 06/29/2015

For immediate release: Monday, June 29, 2015

For more information: Melanie Jula Sakoda (melanie.sakoda@gmail.com, 925-708-6175 cell), Cappy Larson (cappy@rlarson.com, 415-637-2006)

Bishop retired for sexual misconduct is quietly reinstated

He now works as a “parish priest” in a Pennsylvania church

Victims say it’s an “dangerous, deceptive and callous” move

SNAP wants Orthodox Church officials to take immediate action

A support group for survivors of sexual abuse recently received a phone tip that an Orthodox bishop retired for sexual misconduct was now working as a “parish priest” in a Pennsylvania church.

Bishop Matthias Moriak was retired by the synod of bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) on April 15, 2013, after he was found to have engaged in sexual misconduct.

http://www.midwestdiocese.org/files/ARCHPASTORAL%20LETTERS/2013.04.14-Pastoral-Letter-to-Diocese-of-Midwest.pdf

http://www.midwestdiocese.org/files/ARCHPASTORAL%20LETTERS/2012.11.03-Letter-of-Holy-Synod-to-Diocese-of-the-Midwest.pdf

However, on June 26, 2015, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) received a phone tip that the bishop was working at a parish in Hermitage, Pennsylvania. While there was no indication that Moriak was working at the parish on the OCA’s website, the contact page for Holy Cross Orthodox Church directed emails to “Bishop Matthias – Parish Priest.”

http://oca.org/parishes/oca-ro-herhcc

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4Wal4h0D81EU25vVUdhaEVUd2s/view?usp=sharing

The parish belongs to the Romanian Episcopate of the OCA. That diocese is led by Archbishop Nathaniel Popp (nathaniel@roea.org, 517-522-4800). Popp is the longest serving hierarch on the OCA’s synod.

Melanie Jula Sakoda of SNAP was appalled to learn the tip was verified. “It’s outrageous and reckless for Archbishop Nathaniel to allow a cleric who the Church determined to have engaged in sexual misconduct to be reinstated as a parish priest.”

“Even when a clergyman engages in sexual misconduct with an adult, the resulting damage can be serious,” added Cappy Larson, also of SNAP. “In the 16 years I have been working with Orthodox victims, two who were abused as adults were in such pain that they chose to end their own lives.”

“The OCA synod needs to put a stop to this,” concluded Sakoda.

The OCA had earlier considered returning Moriak to active ministry, and SNAP had objected at the time. The group had assumed that the synod had reconsidered the wisdom of this move when they retired the bishop.

http://www.midwestdiocese.org/files/ARCHPASTORAL%20LETTERS/2012.11.03-Letter-of-Holy-Synod-to-Diocese-of-the-Midwest.pdf

http://www.snapnetwork.org/il_offending_bishop_may_be_returned_to_ministry

http://www.midwestdiocese.org/files/ARCHPASTORAL%20LETTERS/2013.04.14-Pastoral-Letter-to-Diocese-of-Midwest.pdf