Pokrov Editorial: The Koumentakos Lawsuit
On September 17, 2009, Orthodox Christians for Accountability announced that Archpriest Raymond Velencia had been elected to serve as the clergy representative to the metropolitan council for the newly reconstituted Diocese of Washington. There does not seem to be a functioning website for this diocese, so it is not clear who comprised the diocesan council that made this decision, with the exception of Metropolitan Jonah Paffhausen, the archbishop of Washington.
For those who may not remember, Velencia was sued by Kristine Patico Koumentakos on May 1, 2008. (Read that story here.) Among the allegations in Koumentakos’ complaint was the claim that Velencia published confidential information he obtained from Koumentakos in confession and/or confidential counseling. A copy of the original complaint is linked above.
While the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) won a dismissal from this lawsuit earlier this year, Koumentakos can still exercise her right to appeal. Moreover, litigation against Velencia continues. Considering the seriousness of the allegations, it seems incomprehensible to us that Velencia was given this honor.
Of course, this is not the first time that Velencia has been awarded during this litigation. Shortly after the action was filed, Velencia received a clergy award from Metropolitan Herman Swaiko. (Read that story here.)
Pokrov is forced to conclude that nothing has changed in the OCA with the election of Paffhausen as metropolitan. The message that Velencia’s selection sends is clear. Those who have been hurt are not to be believed, and the Church will go to any length to escape accountability, even to the extent of distorting the truth.
As you peruse the additional documents from this case that we have linked below, we think that you will find a vision of the Church that will make your jaw drop. No one is accountable for a badly behaving priest, bishops have no power over their clergy and the national church has no power over what any of its hierarchs might do. Read these documents, and then ask yourself what happened to Christ’s Church.