UPDATED: Pokrov.org Editorial
In a first for an Orthodox publication, the January, 2016, edition of the Orthodox Observer updated information it had previously published about a laicized priest. This month’s issue noted that Father Constantine Mersinas was defrocked for a “violation of the Archdiocese Sexual Misconduct Policy.” The Observer had previously reported only that Mersinas was “[r]eturned to the status of [l]ayman.” The Observer is the official newspaper of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA).
Pokrov.org suspects that the GOA was pressured into revealing the true nature of the Mersinas defrocking. We commend the person or persons who forced the publication of this important information!
While the reason for the discipline of a priest is obvious in cases which capture media attention, it can remain hidden in those cases which are not in the public eye. The GOA’s sexual misconduct policy, which has been in effect since 2002, promised that “[e]xcept in unusual circumstances … the disciplining of a Clergyman for Sexual Misconduct should be disclosed to the parish of the Clergyman and to the Church community in general.” (Emphasis supplied.)
However, the Archdiocese only recently — almost 14 years later — began to do so. The first time was in November, 2015, when the Observer reported that Father Adam Metropoulos was defrocked for sexual misconduct. The following month, the Observer noted that Father George Passias was removed from the ranks of clergy for the same reason.
Pokrov.org is hopeful that the GOA Faithful will now be routinely informed when a priest is disciplined for sexual misconduct. Moreover, with the precedent of the Mersinas case, we also hope that the victims of priests quietly sanctioned in the past will also pressure the Archdiocese to update information on their perpetrators.