Patriarchate Defrocks Father Passias

Author: Theodore Kalmoukos
Date Published: 12/05/2015
Publication: The National Herald
George Passias and Ethel Bouzalas.
George Passias and Ethel Bouzalas.

The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate voted unanimously to defrock Protopresbyter George Passias at its regular monthly meeting in Constantinople on November 28. Passias was returned to the status of layman due to the sex scandal involving his close associate and goddaughter Ethel Bouzalas.

In essence, the Sacred Synod validated the unanimous decision made by the Holy and Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in early October.

The National Herald broke the Passias news on October 2. The story was then picked up by the mainstream media, particularly featured by the New York Post.

The Sacred Synod also affirmed the Eparchial Synod’s decision that the president and the parish council of the church where Passias served as protopresbyter, St. Spyridon in New York City, be removed immediately, and that a meticulous audit be performed on the parish’s finances.

Archdiocesan Chancellor Bishop Andonios of Phasiane had not complied with the Eparchial Synod’s decision until November 28, at which point upon his directive, Parish Council President Steve Papadatos relinquished his keys to St. Spyridon’s interim priest.

Passias had staffed the Parish Council with his own people, having brought them along from his previous parishes, particularly from Brooklyn. Among them were Papadatos who became president a few years ago, and Bouzalas, who undertook many roles within the parish.

The community had warned the Archdiocese early on about Passias’ administration overall, and particularly about his seemingly peculiar relationship with Bouzalas.

The Holy Synod members were aware of the issue, as it was widely reported in the United States, in Greece, and throughout the world.

Passias had already been well known because he had served as Chancellor during Archbishop Spyridon’s tenure. He was also the beloved spiritual son of Ephraim, the priest-monk who left Mount Athos to come to the United States in the early 1990s and established monasteries here, essentially creating a fundamentalist movement within the Greek Orthodox Church. Passias often organized “pilgrimages” with buses going to Ephraim’s monasteries, filled with hundreds of parishioners. He publicly appeared wearing his anteri (inner cassock), with long hair and a long beard, and also a kosposhoini, presenting himself as spiritual and traditional.

The Holy Synod along with Passias defrocked four more priests of the Archdiocese the following according to an official announcement issued by the Chief Secretariat of the Holy Synod on Sunday November 29, 2015. They are the following: John Roll from the Metropolis of San Francisco, Michal Sterns from the Metropolis of Chicago, and George Savvas and Demetrios Iliou, both from the Metropolis of Atlanta.

THE BACKGROUND

In breaking the story, TNH had obtained irrefutable evidence that Passias has carried on sexual relations with Bouzalas. Specifically, that they would often frequent the Courtesy Motel in Fort Lee, NJ as “husband and wife.” Other evidence, including photographs and video footage, shows the couple going to the Countryside Hotel in Cold Spring, NY, and dining at Cliff’s Steak House in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.

Passias met Bouzalas in Brooklyn while pastoring at the Holy Cross Church. She was converted to Orthodoxy, and according to the Post article “Passias baptized her while she wore a bikini,” giving her the name Euthalia.

Bouzalas is married to a Greek-American Real Estate businessman and they have three children. Passias also is married with grown up children.

From now on Passias may not be addressed as Father, or Reverend. He may not wear his clerical outfit meaning the cassock or the clergy’s emblems nor can Liturgize or perform any other Sacred Service or sacrament.

Patriarch Bartholomew brought into the Holy Synod Passias’ lofty file containing all the documents, many articles from TNH and other publications, and also the Eparchial Synod’s minutes.