Protecting Fr. Katinas: A Risky Business

Author: Staff
Date Published: 03/31/2007
Publication: Orthodox Reform

In the aftermath of the Holy Eparchial Synod in New York on March 14-15 where the Fr. Nick Katinas scandal was debated, another scathing article from The National Herald charges Archbishop Demetrios with endangering the Greek Orthodox Church with his handling of the Fr. Katinas situation:

…with his entire approach to the highly sensitive matter concerning alleged pedophilia involving Rev. Nicholas Katinas, the former longtime pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Dallas, Archbishop Demetrios of America’s last mask of false piety has fallen. His Eminence has appeared to be completely insensitive toward the victims and their families, even putting the entire Church and our Greek American community at risk, with potentially serious consequences . . . the Archbishop’s refusal to do what obviously needs to be done – i.e., send Father Katinas to Spiritual Court, as he should have done by now, and proceed to defrock him – leads the Church in America down a dark and dangerous path.

The article implores the Hierarchs to prevent the “imminent chaos facing our Church” which poses a dire liability and financial threat to the Greek Orthodox community:

The imminent chaos facing our Church and community is preventable. If the Patriarchate is the last to realize that the Archbishop’s stance on the Father Katinas’ alleged sexual misconduct makes him not only a liability for, but also dangerous to, the Church in America, and consequently for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, then it will be too late.

The article restates the charges, and quotes the Archdiocese as ignoring the church canons in order to grant Fr. Katinas his wish to be buried as a priest:

In other words, there is a visible circle of people, which operates as a protective shield for Father Katinas, despite the Archdiocese’s public admission that the former Dallas pastor “engaged in serious moral transgressions” when Assistant Archdiocese Chancellor Rev. Michael Kontogiorgis informed a hushed Dallas congregation of more than 400 on February 21 that their longtime former parish priest of 28 years had allegedly committed sexual abuse with minors, and that Father Katinas’ suspension is permanent.

In addition to this very vocal and chilling disclosure, the Archdiocese’s official announcement two days later was even more revealing and chilling: “After a thorough investigation of allegations of serious misconduct involving minors, Father Katinas was suspended, in accordance with the Archdiocese’s Statement of Policy Regarding Sexual Misconduct by Clergy.”

Despite all these revealing and embarrassing admissions, the Archdiocese leadership, the Archbishop, refuses to what he should have already done, instead invoking the unconvincing excuse that “Father Katinas has admitted his actions; he is 72 years of age; he has repented; and he wants to be buried as a priest when he dies, not as a layman.”

The article goes on to ask why the Patriarch of Constantinople is allowing Archbishop Demetrios to protect “perpetrators of pedophilia”:

The Archbishop’s irresponsible approach to clergy pedophilia raises another very serious issue. It also places the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Patriarch Bartholomew, in a very difficult position. We must not forget that the Patriarch is the Archbishop’s ecclesiastical superior. Ultimately, the Church in America is in the Patriarch of Constantinople’s ecclesiastical jurisdiction. Demetrios and the other Metropolitans commemorate Bartholomew during arch-hierarchical Divine Liturgies, and the Archbishop is the Patriarch’s exarch to the Church in America.

It seems that Archbishop Demetrios is forgetting that he is not heading an autocephalous or even autonomous Church, and that he is a bishop entrusted with the pastoral responsibility of an Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne. That means he completely depends on the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and that each and every action he takes or decision he makes reflects directly on the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Many among the clergy and the laity of the Archdiocese are asking a very simple question: What is the Ecumenical Patriarchate saying about all these things? Does it accept Archbishop Demetrios’ seeming stance to protect alleged perpetrators of pedophilia simply because the accused cleric is a recently retired older man who prefers to be buried as priest when he dies, and not as a layman who was defrocked?

The Ecumenical Patriarchate is contending with too many problems in the fanatic third world land of Turkey, in which it dwells, and does not need any more problems. It does not need to be apologetic for the ‘unexplained’ protection that its exarch in America provides to a priest, about whom the Archdiocese has officially admitted has committed despicable acts against innocent young kids. What is going to happen if the American and international press begin bombarding the Patriarch with disturbing questions about Demetrios’ “protecting pedophiles?”

Does His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew realize the magnitude of the problem, and what is really at stake here? Given the recent history of the Roman Catholic Church in Boston, and in many other cities in the United States, can the Patriarch not see how sex abuse scandals brought the Catholic Church in America to its knees, or is he so completely under the influence of Father Karloutsos?

Finally, questions are posed regarding why the bishops refuse to defrock Fr. Katinas given these multiple charges of sex abuse:

The least the faithful of the Greek Orthodox Church in America expect the Patriarch to do is direct his ecclesiastical inferior, Archbishop Demetrios, to do what the canons require, what the Archbishop should have done months ago: to start the process to defrock Father Katinas. If Bartholomew does nothing, then everyone will have every right to interpret the situation the way he or she likes.

On the other hand, those who happen to know Patriarch Bartholomew from past experience, they very well know that he places the Church above everything and everybody else (to include Demetrios), and that is why they believe he will intervene.

It would almost be laughable if the Patriarchate says that this is an internal issue, “and we do not micromanage or get involved with the Archdiocese’s internal affairs,” especially when the story of clergy sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church first broke in the Boston Globe, and the then powerful and very popular Cardinal Bernard Law were hiding behind news releases and “no comment” statements. But when things got ugly, the Vatican called Cardinal Law to Rome to save him, and he ended up leaving in complete disgrace.

Read the full article from The National Herald.