Priest in Florida shames the Church

The only way we can clean up a mess is first to admit it exists. In Tampa Bay, Florida a priest brought over from Greece was allegedly assaulted by man who claimed he was propositioned by the priest. The man went through an intense public humiliation, orchestrated in large measure by the defense attorney of the priest, while the priest claimed he was beaten up after asking for directions. The court just ruled in the man’s favor and the videos his defense attorney offers shows the priest was in an area of town where he had no business being.

Questions that need to be asked: Why was the priest brought over? What screening was performed before he was assigned to a parish? Were apologies offered to the man who was dragged through the courts and publicly humiliated by the priest’s defense attorney? How will the reputation of the Greek Orthodox Church in the Tampa Bay area (which has some outstanding priests) be restored? Who is ultimately responsible for this? Read the full story at Tampa Bay Fox News.

Comments

  1. I say, hit him again!

    God bless that Marine, and anyone who pummels a pervert – no matter what his uniform is. I hate to say it, but such a freak deserves a good, hearty beating. He’ll think twice before trying such a thing again, and HOPEFULLY, the bishops will think twice about bringing over their fellow ‘chosen’ to help them in US parishes.

    • Roger Bennett :

      John:
      I cannot invoke blessings “anyone who pummels a pervert.” When an adult sexually propositions another adult non-violently, an emphatic “no” should normally be an adequate response.
      Having watched the video, though, I would say that this priest apparently stalked and assaulted (i.e., startled and put in fear of battery) or battered (offensively touched) the Marine, not merely “propositioned” him. The Marine thereupon was entitled to use reasonable force in self-defense. To a nighttime assault in a private parking garage where the priest slipped in calculatedly, I’m not prepared to say that the force was unreasonable.

  2. George Michalopulos :

    John, I’m with you. Hit him again! I know this is Lent and we need to be understanding and forgiving and all, but I for one am tired that our Church has meaner standards for priests than what is found in most secular professions. This is one of the bitter fruits of loss of local autonomy in the GOA.

    Where to begin? Besides the obvious scandal to the Church, does anyone think that the various state boards or medicine, pharmacy, engineering, architecture, law, etc. allow anybody to waltz into their jurisdictions from another state or country? Why do bishops in the GOA feel that they must bring priests from overseas to America? Are the locals completely incompetent? Or are they trolling for homosexuals because most of the American-born are not perverts? Have they no shame? The very fact alone calls into question the sanity of some of our bishops (and I’m using the term “sanity” in the sense that the American Psychological Association used before they were browbeaten by the Brownshirts back in 1973.) Nuff said.

  3. So, does anyone know where this pervert priest is? Did they ship him out or is he stalking his next victim?

    What discipline is the Church prescribing? Any? Or is he being sent somewhere else to ‘start fresh’ and prey on others.

    “Those that sin should be rebuked publicly, that the others may see and fear.”
    1 Timothy 5:20

    When the bishops start using this PROPERLY, for gross indiscretion and sin (as in this case) the Church will begin anew, as in the days of the Apostles.

  4. Don’t forget it was one of three other such ‘special ordained young never married’ ‘graduate student’ priests brought from Greece who sexually molested an undergraduate at the Holy Cross Seminary — and the response of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s puppet Spyridon was to FIRE the seminary professors on the college student displine board who voted to expell the molestor from the seminary. Instead the seminary gave the molestor a diploma!

    Only after the public rallied to remove Archbishop Spyridon (who succeeded in imposing the E.P.’s handed-down charter attempting to remove defacto accountability and now lives in a very nice paid life ‘in retirement’ for only a very few years dubious ‘service’) were the careers of the wrongly harmed professors restored.

    Another of the three special priest graduate students from overseas who were sent here to correct ‘problems’ too went on to be a PR problem in parish after parish, Cleopas something, I don’t know where he is now.

    Meanwhile we saw another local ordained young never married priest Karambis removed only after pictures came forward with a gay ‘massuer’ — and they gave him the job of running the seminary for a time.

    We absolutely MUST have senior empty nester priests added to the lists of actually celibate monastics able to be bishops or we are going to be a white haired little bunch with a few ex-patriates struggling to remain an unimportant remnant in 20 years. Roman Catholic Tendencies are not going to work out! See what even their Pope has seen fit to overlook regarding the molestation of the deaf youth in their care.

    ‘Ordained young and never married’ is not the same as ‘celibate’ when the person never sacrificed marriage as they had no feelings for women to begin with. Back when people only lived to 25 years on average and most women who made it to 20 was rearing her dead sister’s kids too there were lots of widower priests still in their working years who could serve as bishops for 5 – 15 years before they died. Now- there are none and we need to change the rule to add senior married priests or we are dead now and just don’t know it.

  5. George Michalopulos :

    You know, if the Phanar wants to control the GOA, then maybe we should grant them their wish and give them the responsibility that goes along with the glory. Henceforth, all churches and parochial institutions should be signed over to them. They can pay the priests’ salaries and when one of them screws up and gets sued, then Rev Hope-bearer can come and testify in court in their defense. Or bow and scrape before the Archons begging for money to clean up the mess.

  6. Scott Pennington :

    I was taken aback somewhat when I heard the original story of “a marine assaulting a priest”. My nouno is a retired career marine and my uncle was a marine. It just seemed too weird to believe. I had assumed it to be racially/religiously motivated (probably mistaking the priest for a Muslim).

    Now we know “the rest of the story”.

    As to the use of violence, I will only point out that in former times, when someone who made a homosexual proposition could normally expect a violent reaction from a heterosexual male, such propositions were much less likely to be made. Violence had the effect of driving the behavior out of the public realm. Not endorsing violence, just making an observation.

    • Roger Bennett :

      Seems like a grudging acquiescence in violence if not endorsement.
      I continue to think that a firm “no” is adequate, although my son, when a minor, was grabbed at by a creep in the restroom at Denny’s, and if I were a prosecutor, I would zestfully prosecute a vigilante wannabe who decided to take general deterrence into his own hands.

    • Michael Bauman :

      Do we know “the rest of the story”? Not to say the priest did make homosexual advances to the ‘Marine’, but it was a known meeting place and it would seem the ‘Marine’ had other options than a tire iron at his disposal. Add to that his original explanation of a terrorist shouting the name of Allah, and it becomes really fishy. Don’t you think?

      In general, if bishops do not use the authority they have to teach, discipline and correct, what good are they?

      Any priest who is credibly charged with a major crime of any type (financial or sexual or worse) should be suspended immediately. If the allegations are genuinely credible and/or proved true (whether prosecutable or not), they should be de-frocked and laicized immediately.

      God forgive us, but we Antiochins continue to publically commemorate Demetri Khoury as a bishop in the hierarchical liturgies at least.

  7. Of importance here is that the original stories including the archimandrite’s account all said that the marine invented and made up the bit about being sexually assaulted, that ‘defense’ didn’t come out until a day later. Now we hear in the 911 tape the marine being very clear what he thought happened right in the moment he called 911. Seriously you have to ask if the Marine was guilty of unprovoked assault why did he call 911 and stay on the phone so long describing his location and the chase? And in the video we see the Archimandrite’s car pass by, then wait, then come back to the garage and stick tight to the back of another resident so the security gate wouldn’t have time to close. Why didn’t the priest push the ‘call attendant’ button on the security box if he was lost. Looking at the video it was plain the Archimandrite didn’t stop one moment by the box to even check what buttons it had.

    I recall when the other Greek Archimandrite graduate student at Holy Cross molested the undergraduate boy the Archimandrite was pretty boozed up.

    How many dollars that we GOA parishioners put into the collection baskets every Sunday are going to be given to the Marine’s lawyers so that those in GOA leadership won’t have to testify in court?

    We need to restore balance in the leadership so it can police itself effectively, and resist ‘fire, ready, aim’ impulses. We need senior married empty nester priests to be bishops, or we die.

    Some of these Archons say ‘well let them hear a no when they ask for money and then things will improve’. I’m not so sure many in present leadership would mind slow decay (though they protest loudly with their voices, by their choices we see what’s what). They get a fresh lifetime pension each time a parish closes, is sold as they get the money. I think Fr. Hans mentioned there are about 32 of them all told and 400-500 parishes, so, you know, I doubt they see much of a retirement financial threat there if the idea is financial pressure makes a difference.

    For example Met. Alexios in Atlanta had to have know about the problems with Archimandrite Graff and the boy (who he took to a rock concert..) for some time. So you have to wonder, right on the back of a sad event like that, what did Met. Alexios do to screen new Archimandrites before setting them to work in the USA?

    Want Orthodoxy to have more converts than we can count? Add married bishops and folks will leave Protestantism by the parishload to join us. Or we can be absorbed without a blip into the Vatican’s way of doing things, after the one week blip of a press release about ‘schism healed’ followed the next day by the pope’s covering up of the hundred child deaf clergy sexual misdoing.

    It’s been a hard day. Yes indeed.

  8. Geo Michalopulos :

    Harry, you bring up an interesting angle regarding parish closures. Since you brought it up, when a parish is liquidated, do the monies go to NYC to be used for general revenue or are they put in some type of escrow account? If the money goes into general revenue, then I can see how closures can be profitable (unless of course the monies raised are being used to pay for lawsuits). Interesting.

    Regarding your point about married “empty nesters” becoming bishops (which I have no problem with, nor widowers, etc.), I’m not so sure that that’s going to necessarily solve the problem. I believe that as long as the GOA remains a colony of the Phanar (read: cash-cow) then this type of misfeasance is unavoidable. Let’s not forget that the GOA priest who was a pederast in Dallas was a married man with five children. Consider my earlier point: why was this archimandrite brought to the US in the first place? I don’t know if anybody knows the answer to that question. As long as the GOA has this loosy-goosy hierarchical set-up with zero accountability, then expect more of this nonsense. We saw this in the AOCNA btw with the fact that Bishop Demetri Khouri was allowed to remain in position of authority (albeit in another metropolis). I guess what I’m trying to say is that the current colonial system breeds the worst possible corruption.

    At the risk of belaboring my earliet point in another posting, whenever a licensed professional migrates to another state, he has to register for a license to practice from the requisite state board. It’s not automatically given, especially if there are questions about moral turpitude and/or incomptence. My question was why are the standards for white collar professionals higher in the secular world but not for priests in the ethnic eparchies? That I think is a tough nut to crack but I don’t think that anybody “gets it.” I mean the laity as well. Why aren’t they more demanding of higher standards? Perhaps they don’t want to pay more money for salaries, I dunno. Perhaps they’ve been so cowed by centuries of the Turkish millet system which put crowns on the heads of pastors so that we think that they’re actually kings. Certainly many of the bishps have developed a hierarchy that actually think that they’re kings –albeit with no responsibilities. It’s all just ceremonial for them.

    Getting back to your point about 79th St not caring about the closure of churches in order to live off the proceeds, would they be so complaisant if they were forced to do the same in order to pay for actual malfeasance?

    On a tangential note, now that the OCA is cleaning up its act and putting in stringent safeguards, I foresee yet another reason for the devolution of the Episcopal Assembly to SCOBA-like status. You’re literally talking about two different types of corporate cultures with astonishingly different systems of accountability. Are there any other unintended consquences? Possibly squirrely priests from the OCA with problems of their own asking for admittance into the GOA where such strictures do not exist (and probably never will as long as the Phanar runs things). We could see a great shaking out of American Orthodoxy, between those who want accountability and transparency and those who like the old lacksaidaisical way of doing things. Just a thought. Any takers?

  9. I’ve followed this story from the day there were first reports. But I am very confused by the commentary on this blog article… Am I missing some video evidence that everyone else is seeing? Why are we assuming the priest actually did what this Marine said he did?

    Does Fr. Johannes realize that when the story first broke the Marine’s first claim was that he was defending himself against what he thought was a Muslim terrorist?
    The court merely said there is not enough certainty to say that it wasn’t self-defense, not that a sexual assault actually happened.

    I have no way of knowing what actually happened, but pulling into the wrong parking garage does not imply a sexual assault. I myself have been lost in other countries and have ended up lost in some pretty strange places.

    This is some strange commentary from a usually pretty solid blog. Did you suddenly stumble across this story and immediately take it at face value?

  10. As far as stories where it is impossible to prove exactly what happened- and this instance is a great example, especially considering the just plain bizarre nature of the whole thing… it is precisely such a story that should NOT be used to make a public statement about such sweeping considerations as the “reputation of the Greek Orthodox Church” or accountability of hierarchy etc.

    Either the Marine has deep-seated issues or the Priest does, and there is no way to know without doubt who is lying; why are we assuming the Priest (who was taken away in a stretcher) must be lying?

    This is the only time I’ve ever seen this blog attempt to use a highly odd and dubious case (a case where we may never know with absolute certainty and proof exactly what happened) to further some part of the greater AOI agenda (and I tend to agree with all that AOI presents!).

  11. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    I put it up because I am done with excusing bad behavior by marginal priests that tears down the good priests. Every time something happens where the obvious is, well, obvious, we end up saying we don’t really know what the facts are and we can’t make any judgments.

    Here are the facts. A priest enters a gated parking garage ostensibly to ask for directions. He has an altercation with a resident of the building. We have video of him sneaking into the garage and a contemporaneous 911 call proving that something happened that was more than a simple asking of directions.

    Now, anyone with an ounce of sense knows that you don’t sneak into an apartment garage to ask for directions. In Florida, Hess gas stations and 7-11’s spontaneously generate at every freeway exit. That’s where you go to find out how to get back on the freeway. It’s not rocket science.

    Here is the fall-out. The Tampa Bay area has some very solid priests. I know most of them. I also know that the bachelor priest’s behavior has cast suspicions of moral turpitude on them as well. They don’t deserve this.

    If the bachelor priest can’t discern that it is stupid and dangerous to sneak into apartment building garages and that he has absolutely no business being there, then he has no business being a priest.

    If that’s too harsh let’s mitigate it a bit: The priest no business serving in a parish. Keep him in a monastery where he can be supervised. And don’t let him use the car.

  12. Fr. Hans,

    Amen and amen. Well said, as usual.

  13. Aglaios,

    The Tampa Bay news station on their website has made it possible for everybody anywhere in the whole world to hear the 911 audio call, and to see the security camera video, and to see other pictures of the area. Your computer has to be able to generate sound and play such video sources, but most can now.

    This misdoing among those who would be made leaders due to the fact they evidently never were attracted to women to begin with and apparently are grossly overwhelmed by their physical desire for sex with men can’t be hidden anymore.

    Loyalty to one’s church superior in exchange for the overlooking personal sexual misconduct creates a sexual mafia, not the Orthodox episcopacy people hear about from the priests in the parishes.

    We need to avoid witch hunts and harming the actual celibates, however so very plainly me must add senior empty nester priests to be able to be bishops even though their brides have neglected to die young, or we will have no future at all.

    Seriously, what do we gain if ten or so years before the last white hair passes and the parish closes we have a big party about how ‘we healed the schism with Rome’. We’d be opening two parishes for every one they are closing if we restored the balance having stable senior priests to be bishops along with the authentic monastics.

  14. Michael Bauman :

    The issue here is broader than just the behavior of the corruption of the hierarchs whether that corruption is sexual, financial or simply lust of power. We are all corrupted by the world and Satanic influence. The question is what do we choose to do about the corruption?

    Are we (all of us) going to submit ourselves to the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in the Mysteries AND the moral teachings of the Church or are we going to act as a facilitator for degenerate but comfortable behavior in acord with the world? Do we really want to take on the struggle of genuine Christian spiritual formation?

    Perhaps one of the reasons we are less demanding of discipline for our hierarchs is that we realize that such discipline should be applied to us as well? (Penance as prescribed by the cannons when we stray from the teaching of the Church or break communion) If we expect and demand that our hierarchs apply such discipline to themselves and the priests, we should also demand they do the same for the laity (you and me folks). Perhaps we like the idea of having such large targets to shoot at to avoid looking at our own sins?

    We have all been largely formed in a culture (both the sub-culture of the Church and the larger culture) that celebrates individual indulgence, indolence and pleasure. Having married men in the episcopate would not automatically solve the problem and might make it worse. The problem is our own lack of personal commitment to and acountablility for the life of the Cross (prayer, fasting, repentence and almsgiving) and the moral rectitude that is the outward fruit of such a life. Do we seek out the inter-personal communion with Jesus Christ to which we are called, or do we just give it lip service?

    If spiritual discipline were applied, I am afraid we might find the pews being emptied in quick order and money drying up BUT for those who stick it out a greater sense of joy, peace, fellowship and communion in the midst of the darkness of the current age.

    Two questions each Christian is faced with on a daily basis:

    Whom do you say that I am?
    Whom do you serve?

    Are we the Church or just another joy-ride into oblivion?

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Michael, the key word in your second paragraph is “AND,” which you capitalized. Unless we in the laity recognize the importance of that conjunctive, then things will continue to degenerate, personally and corporately within American Orthodoxy.

  15. This is taken from an earlier November report by a local Florida paper:

    Police say Bruce offered several reasons to explain his actions:

    The man tried to rob him.

    The man grabbed Bruce’s crotch and made an overt sexual advance in perfect English.

    The man yelled “Allahu Akbar,” Arabic for “God is great,” the same words some witnesses said the Fort Hood shooting suspect uttered last week.

    “That’s what they tell you right before they blow you up,” police say Bruce told them.

    ….If this is truly a part of the police report, then it causes some difficulty for thinking this case is “obvious”.

    Also consider the Marine’s background:
    “Bruce is a sales manager for APS Pharmacy in Palm Harbor. His blog entries tout the benefits of increasing testosterone and human growth hormones. He was charged with misdemeanor battery in 2007 for hopping over the bed of a tow truck and shoving its driver. He pleaded no contest.”

  16. And check out Jasen Bruce’s blog titled “Mad About the Boys”.

    (deleted url)

    I myself am a former active duty Marine, and I’ve been around all kinds of Marines, and this guy is missing a screw -not to say that it automatically translates into him lying about this whole thing.

    Look, I know there’s plenty of scandal and abuse that has gone on in the Church, but my only point is that this is the one case that seems to be anything but “obvious”.

    With all due respect Fr., you wind down your last comments with the lines (as if to recognize that it might not be a case “where the obvious is, well, obvious”):

    “If the bachelor priest can’t discern that it is stupid and dangerous to sneak into apartment building garages and that he has absolutely no business being there, then he has no business being a priest.”

    -If this is all he’s guilty of then I think being beaten with a tire iron and sent to the hospital is more than enough punishment.

  17. Aglaios points out the many stories and gay-site bloggers written immediately upon the arrest featuring the reaction of the lawyer hired for the archimandrite — and failing to consider the actual security camera footage, the actual 911 audio, and the results of an actual investigation by the prosecutors.

    In any event, allowing the gay-blogger theory, it is ‘better’ for the priest have hovered around and then illegally enter a garage to go for the jewels of someone who appears on gay websites (when anybody who looks sees that his photos were not posed for gay websites, it’s just that gays liked his looks… which, you know, sort of fits what happened….

  18. No “gay blogger theory” here. I do not think this Marine is a homosexual. And I have listened to the 911 call and seen the footage.

    I’m just saying that your absolute certainty that Bruce’s story must be true (when all we ultimately have is “his story vs. opposing story” when it comes to the alleged groping) is bordering on the irrational.

    Everyone thought the “Duke lacrosse team rape case” was clear and obvious too (ask Nancy Grace).

    I just don’t get where the absolute Cartesian certainty of the priest’s guilt is coming from. It’s almost as if becoming a celibate priest involves suspicion of guilt to begin with (I only say this because many of the comments on this blog immediately launch into an analysis and psychology of “the phenomena of celibate priests” at places like Holy Cross with the conclusion that “what else could a single priest have been doing in such a garage?”… yet any analysis of Bruce’s character or past brushes with the law [misdemener battery] is chalked up to homosexual conspiracy theory.

    If the whole thing is “so completely clear” and I am just ignorant of a whole wealth of evidence -so much so that I am blinded by “the obvious”, then why was the Marine held on charges and not the priest.

    You guys must have a crystal ball or something that shows you events that no one in the world can see (except the two involved).

    I’d be extremely careful with posts like these. Indeed Fr. Johannes, mere suspicion of sexual misconduct can ruin lives (you bring up the unfortunate fallout for the many solid and good priests in this area of Florida), but before you pronounce upon this particular priest-monk’s guilt with a kind of Cartesian certainty be sure you aren’t contributing to the downfall of an innocent man to begin with.

    • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

      There is no “absolute certainty.” No one is saying there is.

      What is certain is that a priest cruised a parking garage, tailgated another car to sneak under the gate arm, and then had some kind of altercation that got him beat up. He tells us he was merely asking for directions. Well, when was the last time anyone you know crashed a parking garage looking for directions to the freeway?

      What we know is that his behavior was reckless and irresponsible and caused a media scandal in the Tampa Bay area. The men who will have to live with this fall-out are the good priests who have to clear the garbage this priest created because of his recklessness and irresponsibility.

      Frankly, I don’t want guys involved in escapades like this holding positions of responsibility in parishes. I sure wouldn’t trust my daughter around him. This isn’t any pronouncement of guilt. It is however, a declaration that if we excuse the behavior that the priest displayed, then our standards are unacceptably low.

      • Geo Michalopulos :

        Fr, your last statement says what I’ve been trying to say. The question is why do we have standards “that are [so] unacceptably low”?

    • Geo Michalopulos :

      Aglaios, I for one never thought that the Duke LaCrosse team was guilty of gang rape. I learned my lesson from that buffoon “Rev” Al Sharpton and the Tawana Brawley hoax. He has yet to apologize for perpetrating that cruel hoax that destroyed the lives of six law-enforcement officials.

      I realize that it’s completely impossible to know exactly what happened, and I know from my friends in law enforcement that nobody is 100% guilty of anything (this is also true in civil suits), the fact remains that the preponderance of evidence backs up the Marine’s story. Do I think he has anger managment issues? Yeah. Is it possible that he’s conflicted about his own sexuality? Yeah. Should he have reacted as violently as he did? No.

      All this however begs further questions. 1) We train Marines and soldiers to be violent. That’s a good thing, we don’t want milquetoasts defending our nation. 2) It’s never a good thing to go up and manhandle a male stranger. Regardless of whether he’s a repressed homosexual or not (and I’m not saying that this Marine is), men as a rule do not like to be sexually assaulted. 3) This of course begs the ultimate question: why in God’s holy name do we want open homosexuals serving in the armed forces, where if they are in positions of authority, they can engage in such behavior with subordinates? Does anybody think that this wont poison the atmosphere of the military culture? Or that it won’t depress the numbers and quality of men who wish to serve? (This last point is off-topic but I decided to pursue it in the interest of sparking debate over what we want for the ranks of the hierarchy and the clergy.)

  19. I understand your point Fr.
    I hope that somehow the truth comes to full light in this tragic event.
    Forgive me Fr. and forgive me brothers.
    Have a blessed Holy Week and Pascha all.

  20. Geo Michalopulos :

    Aglaios, forgive me as well. May we come to greet the joy of our Risen Savior and may He, by his transformative powers, lift up our hearts.

  21. I’ve read a story once …. I believe It was in the Egyptian pathericon. A monk went out of the without the abbot’s blessing. He felt guilty and slowing down pace of his walk started to say the Jesus Prayer. After a few seconds, without an apparent reason, a horse started galloping . The horse hit the monk and threw him to the side of the road. The monk realized that he would have been killed if he had not remembered to pray.

    What is similar between this story and the one discussed here is that the monk and the priest were in a place where they had no business being

    Give the poor priest some time to respond and lay these worries to rest. Give him some time to digest the criticism and be sure that he learned a valuable lesson the very hard way.

  22. Geo Michalopulos :

    Eliot, repentance here is key. And we must not be judgmental as well. We should not suspend our critical faculties however. “Judge not…” does not mean “discern not…” Priests are here to work out their salvation as well. I believe the prevailing point of view on this thread is that to govern a church adequately, it is incumbent upon the hierarchy and laity to find the right men. As Harry or Fr Hanse pointed out, true ascetics should be brought to the fore, not timeservers who have figured out the letter of the law and who have no compunction about “sacrificing” the love of a good woman in the first place. I applaud the quality of priests that are groomed in the Russian-oriented churches in this regard (i.e. ROCOR, the new and improved OCA, MP parishes, etc.)

    If I may add, there was an old calendarist Greek jurisdiction which was under ROCOR for several years but credible allegations of widespread homosexuality were leveled against them. ROCOR went to investigate and they left before a proper investigation could commence. I’d rather not name them at this point.

    The upshot is that with love and mercy, it is incumbent upon the Church (and by this I mean the laity as well) to protect the faithful from scandalous behavior. It is also good for those who are guilty as well. If I believe that it is necessary for laymen to receive spiritual discipline for our own salvation, I can’t see why we should exempt priests, bishops, monks and other church servitors from the same salvific medicine.

    You are right: we should pray for this priest and hope he comes to repentance. Even if he was not guilty (which does not seem likely), suffering is brought upon all people at one time or another to bring us to our senses. “A father does not rebuke bastards but only sons whom he loves.”

  23. Scott Pennington :

    I doubt that the truth will ever fully come out in this story; however, I would suggest that the following fits the facts we know and the alleged statements of the marine:

    The priest was cruising in a neighborhood with a gay bar and known for being a pickup area. The marine happened to live in that area. The priest tailed him and entered a controlled entry parking lot without permission. The priest found the marine and initiated some type of verbal and physical contact. The priest said some things, perhaps in heavily accented English or possibly in Greek. The priest appeared to the marine to be from the Middle East, possibly a Muslim. The marine did not understand what the priest said but did not want to be groped. The marine defended himself, possibly with excessive force, possibly not.

    I don’t see why the marine would have lied about the “Allahu Akbar” thing unless it was to compensate for the fact that he did defend himself against an unarmed attacker with a deadly weapon (tire iron), actually chasing him three blocks. But it seems more plausible to me that he simply didn’t understand what the priest was saying and thought because of his appearance and accent that something he said sounded like “Allahu Akbar”.

    I don’t know what Florida law is in this regard, but in many states the law says, in effect, that you can’t defend against an attack by a person using a flyswatter using a sledgehammer; i.e., force used to defend must be proportional. What’s telling to me is that the gov’t is not pressing charges here. There was no “ruling”. The state said there is not enough evidence to obtain a conviction therefore they’re not filing charges. What that tells me is that there is enough evidence to show that the priest was cruising and did grope the marine. If that were not the case, depending on the priest’s injuries, they might be able to charge the marine with aggravated assault, assault with a deadly weapon, or even attempted murder. Even if the alleged groping by the priest did occur, he still might be able to have the marine prosecuted for using excessive force. But in that case, of course, the priest would have to admit that he attacked the marine in order to make it stick.

    Now, it could be that the marine attacked the priest unprovoked. But if that were the case, why did the priest say that he was only looking for directions? You don’t circle a building, then wait at an entrance until another car passing in allows you to enter without permission, in order to ask directions. That’s just too utterly far-fetched to believe. You drive around til you see someone or til you see a home or storefront, stop and ask directions. You would think that the priest would come up with a better story but there’s no better story to be had. The priest was there and clearly should not have been. He’s asking us to believe that he came up to this marine, made no physical contact, asked him for directions and the marine then pulled out a tire iron, beat him and chased him three blocks, calling 911 in the process. Whatever else may have happened, that seems the least plausible explanation to me.

    • Roger Bennett :

      I was going to sit out the rest of this, but I think Scott has overstated the case against the priest.

      The priest tailed him …

      Maybe. That’s how the Marine’s lawyers spin it. It’s plausible.

      The priest found the marine and initiated some type of verbal and physical contact.

      I know of no evidence of physical contact beyond the Marine’s statements. If there was merely a sexual proposition without contact, the Marine’s use of force is pretty dubious. See 1.1, above.

      What’s telling to me is that the gov’t is not pressing charges here … The state said there is not enough evidence to obtain a conviction therefore they’re not filing charges. What that tells me is that there is enough evidence to show that the priest was cruising and did grope the marine.

      This is Scott’s shakiest ground. The decision not to prosecute could mean that the prosecutor personally is persuaded by the Marine’s story or that he thinks the Marine’s story would raise reasonable doubt in a jury’s collective mind. It says about the evidence that the priest cruised and groped only that it would likely raise reasonable doubt. In a sense that’s “enough,” but it’s uncorroborated so far as I know.

      I wouldn’t be surprised to see the priest bring a civil suit, where the burden of proof is lower than that of a prosecutor. But he’ll have two problems:

      1. Stalk or not, he did apparently get into the garage by “drafting” behind another car.
      2. It is gonna be difficult to persuade a jury that the Marine beat him up for asking “do you know the way to San Jose?,” while the priest is understandably reticent about saying “all I did was proposition him without any physical contact; this was a vicious homophobic attack.”

      I posted this and then came back to edit it when I realized that, whether or not he’s a promiscuous homosexual, none of my scenarios make the priest a man of sound judgement, a paragon of Sophia. I meant to say that but got caught up in lawyer mode, despite taking Holy Week away from the office.

      • Scott Pennington :

        Roger,

        “I would suggest that the following fits the facts we know and the alleged statements of the marine.”

        I was just conjecturing as to a chain of events that would explain the seemingly disparate statements of the marine. I did not mean to imply that I had factual support for all of what I was saying, just that it did not contradict facts we know and that it would explain the marine’s statements. I did not suggest I could prove any of the above.

        However, as you know, prosecutors push forward with he said, she said cases everyday. The fact that the marine used a crowbar on the priest, and that this fact is not in dispute, would suggest to me that unless the prosecutors thought there was some other plausible explanation besides an unprovoked attack by the marine, they would press forward. Reasonable doubt is a matter for the jury to decide. Prosecutors push forward everyday with cases that they know are far from solid but upon which they think they can get a jury to convict. I do not know what other evidence they might have that suggests that the priest made physical advances. It may just be that the priest’s story is so outlandish that his credibility would not hold up. However, the prosecutor might also make use of the fact that the marine told apparently different stories about his motivations.

        I would not be suprised to learn that the prosecutors had some evidence, besides the statements of the marine, that indicated physical contact instigated by the priest. I do not dispute, however, that all of this is conjecture. Bear in mind, the prosecutors are letting the marine walk for what was likely an unjustifiable use of force in defense. That may just be because they could not use the priest as a witness to prove this since he would have to admit physically accosting the marine. But the using of a crowbar on another person is the kind of activity that prosecutors like to prosecute if at all possible.

      • Roger Bennett :

        Prosecutors sometimes push forward with “he said, she said” cases, but not always.

        I’d have to agree with your apparent impression, however, that this one would be pretty tempting to push forward, especially if the community has a vocal, activist homosexual population (as suggested by a gay bath house in an area known for cruising).

        I also agree, after hearing the beginning of the 911 call that the Marine was awfully tenacious. If he continued beating the priest three blocks away, that’s pretty dubious.

  24. Scott,

    On the 911 tape the marine made it clear that his family lived in that building and he didn’t want the fellow he claimed assualted him on that same tape to circle back to his building. After all a garage locked against him quite evidently wasn’t enough of a sign to ‘keep out, get your directions somewhere else’ for this bachelor priest so he circled around and busted through it.

    What was this bachelor priest’s reputation in Greece? Why was he called for or sent here? What screening process did Metropolitan Alexios use before turning him loose in the USA? Did the bachelor priest ‘make busy’ with youth or young adult men in the parishes, are there lawsuits to come against the church in 10 years? With ‘clergy judgement’ this bad so evident you have to ask.

    Look, the everyday laity can’t be the church leadership police. The bishops are supposed to police their own ranks and protect the parishes. This not only isn’t happening, nothing whatsoever was learned from the Greek priest bachelor who molested the male student at Holy Cross seminary years ago. Not a year ago in the same Atlanta region you had the open scandal of another bachelor priest getting so busy with a boy he took him to a rock concert. Okay when a problem happens once you can say ‘it was isolated’. But for crying out loud, this is not even the second or the third time, it is well past that and I’m only counting the ones the public knows about.

    We have to add senior stable empty nester priests to the American synod in such numbers as to be able to police their own ranks. Or we die by attrition or lawsuits.

  25. George Michalopulos :

    Harry, I very much agree with you but I want to take this to then next level. The only way for the laity to “police” the Church (since the phanariote dominated hierarchy won’t) would be for the funds to dry up yesterday. This means that whenever the “local” bishop blows into town asking for money for his extra-special building extravaganza, he’s shown the door.

    Then after a few incidents of this type, the laity can start demanding a seat at the table, this means all governing bodies of the Church, including the Holy Synod. As I’ve said before, all dioesan bishops should be nominated (at the very least) by the laity of a diocese. I’d go so far as to say that they should ELECT the local bishop and he should be subject to confirmation only by the Holy Synod, and then consecrated by 3 or more bishops.

  26. George,

    Whatever you are going to do, whatever Archons and Leadership 100 and parish priests that care about the future… it needs to be done right soon. You know because of the bouzoukia still at large right now and every day that passes by we are generating sexual events and legal problems that will be the subject of big payments we can’t even guess at now to be paid in the future– and we aren’t the Vatican with a basement full of often looted amazing art we can sell for zillions to hush up the damaged.

    Otherwise if we wait there won’t be enough of people left to make correcting anything worthwhile. And don’t expect anything much from the OCL. I was involved in that group for a few years and particularly after the Spyridon/Holy Cross scandal– clergy sexual misdoing was the third rail they’d see but the OCL leadership would always make sure was never touched. General writings, ‘unity — maybe under a local synod maybe with just that little twist where we work to infact solidify foreign control..’ and that foreign control was totally supportive of exactly ‘the special ordained young never married bachelor leadership killing us right now.’

    OCL continues to beg action from leadership usually with a great deal more interest in no action, some demonized the voice that group has given in the past to educated people expressing this or that theological opinion as a way of putting off the day their own sexual choices in high places might get an unwelcome spotlight.

    Anyhow, this situation calls for the rolling up of the sleeves, not harming actual celibates but otherwise taking care of business and the only way with a future that I can see so we don’t find ourselves right back in this pot three years later is to have married empty nesters priests as full synod bishops along with the actual real celibate monastics. We don’t need a ‘witch hunt’, we need good decisions and to get that we need people to be able to make them on the synod and to appoint their successors who won’t cause us to make this series of growth-killing mistakes a second time.

    It’s beyond time for the parishes and the priests to protect the future in whatever way we can, in all ways we can. I wish I could do more than an occasional online posting but due to my personal medical load this is about my limit. It is important not to confuse ‘asking people who are themselves enabling and responsible for the problem to correct it’ with ‘doing something’. If we can’t see now that they’ve had their chance and here we are then we are already dead and the parishes are going to live just long enough to offer funerals for the old timers.

    And DO NOT think things are clean and pure in other Orthodox groups or look to ‘really self-congradulatory spiritual monastics claiming the approval of Athos’ to fix parish life. The entire OCA synod knew the score and sat on its hands during the entire Theodosius / Herman era. Archbishop Job was the only one to stand up and he’s not on the scene anymore, and there are plenty of ‘two person monasteries’, which in some states would be classified now as a ‘common law gay marriage’. Check ocanews to learn how deep reform really goes in the AOA.

    Families go to churches to work through the joys and cares of family life, and there are plenty of more organized programs that better attract kids a whole lot closer to home than our Orthodox churches right now, we don’t have forever to get the doing in tune with the saying.

    Last, don’t be put off by the sniffy voices that go along the lines ‘are we all perfect in laity land? No, then you go fix that and once you are perfect come on back and we’ll talk’. That makes about as much sense as telling the patients at the hospital to go away, get well and then come back and get treatment you don’t then need from ‘the doctors’ who only get the white coats if they are a member of a very special club in more need of doctoring than many of the patients.

  27. George Michalopulos :

    Harry, as usual, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Time’s a-wasting. That’s one reason I’ve come to the conclusion that the Episcopal Assembly will probably go the way of SCOBA (only quicker: think about it, instead of 10 metropolitans living within 100 mi of NYC getting together every so often, now 60+ bishops thousands of miles away from each other are going to be mandated to come together once a year. I dare say the funds for that journey are going to dry up real soon.)

    so what’s the answer? What +Jonah asked the AOCNA a couple of times already: “let’s just get together and unite. There are no redundant bishops among us, our evangelical mission is patent, etc.” Does that mean that we go from two votes on the Episcopal Assembly to one? Yeah, but so what? Overnight the authentic local American Orthodox Church would grow exponentially. Anyway, that’s my take.

  28. Scott Pennington :

    I’m not sure that action by the laity is going to have much effect on the clergy unless it’s some type of organized desertion of one jurisdiction for another. It doesn’t seem realistic to me to think that some small percentage of concerned laity in GOARCH can have any serious effect on the bishops. Most people in the pews are unaware of most of this stuff and/or prefer not to think about it.

    The clergy is it’s own brotherhood and a culture of its own. They think they know what’s best and aren’t going to be persuaded by anything other than significant defections, if that.

    In the long run, the whole package of practice in a given diocese or jurisdiction will seal its fate. Churches which reject this evil culture’s assumptions about what is conventional and acceptable regarding worship and morality will survive and prosper. Those that assimilate modern Americanism into their faith, to whatever extent they do so, will suffer decline.

    It’s simply not possible to maintain the fixation on lots of Greek in the services while assimilating American attitudes toward gender and reproduction, toward a casual Christianity-lite “faith”, and not to suffer from a lack of converts, low reproduction rates and losses to Protestant and Catholic churches through intermarriage.

    There is a direct connection between being “Byzantine Protestant” and being morally compromised by the surrounding culture. They are just two facets of the same phenomenon. To be ashamed of traditional practices is to reject the Orthodox mindset in favor of something else. That “something else” is what leads to fiascos like the subject of this article.

    I know it’s frustrating. But the best thing for all of us to do is hold to the traditional faith as best we can. God will separate the wheat from the chaffe.

    • Michael Bauman :

      Scott, not to be agumetative but what is “the Traditional faith”?

      My understanding:

      1. It is nothing if not incarnational. Among other things that means that the faith is a witness to a particular people in a particular time and place of the person and work of Jesus Christ.

      2. It is historic not in an antiquarian manner but in a prophetic manner. That is to say, the faith delivers the truth that God has consistently revealed in the Church throughout time, not merely the outward form from this or that particular time and place and communicates it in the here and now.

      3. The faith is relational, not just personal. That means, among other things, that the prevailing culture is not ignored nor demonized. The truth and beauty is found and connected (even baptized) in such a way that communication of the Truth is made easier.

      None of this means to suggest any accomodation with the narcisstic, amoral nihlism that has become the norm, however, I was reading a quote today from Elder Sophrony of blessed memory. He was making a similar point by saying that taking a traditional Greek, Russian or Arab monastary and plopping it down in the middle of modern England or the US would immediately make that monastary in-authentic and not Traditional.

      The real question that the leaders of the Church have steadfastly refused to address here is what is worth saving? In fact, they have often expressed the opinion that neither the people of the US and the ‘west’ nor any of the historic fruits of the Anglo-Germanic culture are worth saving. We are too uncouth. Such sentiments seem to frequently come from the most outwardly ‘traditional’ jurisdictions. Nothing could be less Traditional however.

      • Scott Pennington :

        Michael,

        If you tell me what all of the above means in terms of practical, concrete activity, I will let you know what I think.

        “I was reading a quote today from Elder Sophrony of blessed memory. He was making a similar point by saying that taking a traditional Greek, Russian or Arab monastary and plopping it down in the middle of modern England or the US would immediately make that monastary in-authentic and not Traditional.”

        If by “traditional Greek, Russian or Arab monastary” you are referring to what language is being used, then I agree. If you are referring to the retention of those practices that are specifically Arab versus Russian, or Greek versus Romanian, then I also can see the point. If you mean the practices of the monks in those monastaries that are common to Orthodox monastics over the ages, then nothing could be further from the truth. We sometimes behave as if modern Western culture has to be addressed differently because there is something admirable about its practices which differ from those of the Orthodox over the ages.

        There is not.

        There is nothing unique about the souls of Americans, or English, or Westerners, as opposed to any other people on earth.

        “That is to say, the faith delivers the truth that God has consistently revealed in the Church throughout time, not merely the outward form . . .”

        Not “merely the outward form”, to be sure. But including the outward form.

        ” . . . the prevailing culture is not ignored nor demonized.”

        It is not to be ignored, although some of it is in fact demonic. It is to be converted/transformed.

        Michael,

        The problem is that there is very little left that is good in American and Western culture. Religion is either severly watered down or disappearing. The institution of the family has been destroyed in its Christian/patriarchal form. Modesty is a foreign concept. Large families are ridiculed by the culture as “breeders”. I could go on. The good things about American culture are mostly in its past. We can look to earlier generations of Americans for a conservative (although non-Orthodox) Christian culture which can be used to build on. That is precisely what some Orthodox churches are, in effect, doing by using the early modern English of the King James variety in their prayer books and liturgy.

        But the truth is that there may be less here suitable to be adapted than there was in pagan Rome, or in other non-monotheistic cultures. There are those who would insist that American political ideas are superior, but, of course, the machine built by the “Founding Fathers” produced this sick, heathen culture . . .

        • Michael Bauman :

          Scott, I don’t know exactly. I’m trying to ask some questions because it is too easy for me to want to head for the bunkers.

          Unfortunately, many of the Orthodox in the past seem to think that there is a vast difference between the souls of Anglo’s and the souls of Greeks, Russians, etc. We just aren’t worth worrying about.

          Much of Anglo-German culture is a double-edged sword when it comes to discerning what works within the Orthodox Tradition and what does not. We Americans tend to be a culture of individuals rather than one of community. Humility is not a virtue which we admire. Freedom in an individual sense is clearly not something that is easily absorbed into Orthodox Tradition. A state that is free from religion and its guiding ethics is a problem. The pluralsim (at best) that results in which faith is reduced to one more ‘choice’ in the ‘market place of ideas’ makes a travesty of even the idea of true worship, true doctrine and an incarnate Church.

          The founders were heavily influence by Enlightenment philopsphes whose anti-Christian, anti-hierarchical, anti-human “humanism” is easily turned by the demons into fodder for their lunacies.

          As our techological and economic power has grown, our spiritual power has decreased.

          What to do?

          • Scott Pennington :

            Michael,

            I sympathize.

            Perhaps a story of personal evolution might illustrate what I think is the predicament in which we find ourselves:

            Earlier in life, I was quite impressed with “traditional” southern culture. I don’t mean the racist aspect of it, which I have always detested, but the genteel, chivalrous aspect of it. To me, it meant breakfast, dinner and supper (as opposed to breakfast, lunch and dinner). It meant rising when a lady entered the room. It meant gentlemanly behavior not in the sense of “gentle man”, but in the sense of the habits of the landed gentry of the South.

            However, what I came to gradually realize, is that that culture has disappeared except for nostalgia. Now it’s country music, NASCAR, tubetops and tatoos. It’s gradma watching the illegitimate kids because mom still thinks she’s a saucy 17 and still wants to party all the time.

            That’s not a bad analogy to what’s happened to Western culture over the last hundred years or so.

            BUT, there’s never a good reason to be depressed or despondent. Our hope is in Christ, risen from the dead. I look hopefully to the future. It’s just I am pragmatic and expect this society to continue to degenerate.

            Assuming for a moment that Jesus tarries (and I urge Him not to in my prayers), I think the culture will get much worse before it gets better. Our leaders and our people are very hard headed.

            I see a better future elsewhere, in less democratic more traditionally minded cultures in which there is a Christian presence. Here in America, I think the best we can do is evangelize whomever we can into healthy churches who draw clear lines between the Body of Christ and this pagan culture. That way, they are actually entering something which can assist them in their salvation, rather than confirm them in their sins.

            There are no quick fixes for this culture or for the Church as it exists today within it. We have strayed far and for a long time and the way back is just as far and may take just as long.

            But if God is with us, who can stand against us?

            To address something else you touched on: I too get the feeling from some quarters in the “old world” and from the more ethnocentric Orthodox here in America that they think the people here are not worth the sharing of orthodoxy. You see it in the remarks of some who don’t like converts: “Why don’t they just go to their own churches and leave ours to us?”

            This may be due, however to an inferiority complex that keeps them from taking Orthodoxy too seriously. I mean, they must not believe that Orthodoxy is the fulness of truth if they don’t want to share it. Or perhaps they believe that all religions are equally true, equally false and equally useful. Who can say.

            I have met many good, welcoming Greeks, Arabs and Russians though. So I can separate the sheep from the goats in my own heart and I don’t get too bent out of shape about the lack of interest in evangelism among some cradle Orthodox – – or about the more ethnocentric tendencies of some of the old world patriarchs. I just tend to write that stuff off as an annoying irrelevancy.

      • Scott Pennington :

        Michael,

        I realize I did not answer your opening question, “What is the Traditional faith?” I will attempt to do so.

        The traditional faith is found in Scripture, the Creed, the Councils, the Liturgy, in Orthodox iconography, in Orthodox hymnography, etc.

        It is also found in Orthopraxis, as well as being guarded and preserved by Orthopraxis.

        What happens when orthopraxis becomes compromised, corrupted and eroded? So does the faith.

        So . . .:

        When you blur the traditional roles of men and women in the Church, destroying hierarchy within the family and modesty, you reap abortion, promiscuity and divorce.

        When you allow communion without confession, then you get the ugly phenomena of people getting to church just before communion, having just arrived from IHOP with syrup dripping from their lips (this was a phrase used by Dr. Anthony Coniaris who spoke at our church and who wrote the book with which I was catechized). They do so because the holiness of communion has disappered for them. No awe, just an entitlement.

        I could go on, but the point is that outward matters are vital because they directly affect the spiritual attitude of the faithful. They are inseparable. If the outward environment of the church suggests informality and acceptance of the secular culture, then the morals and practices of the people will reflect that. If externals are not particularly important, then we waste a truly offensive amount of money on vestiments, icons, domes, incense, candles, censers, liturgical items, prayer ropes, etc.

        • George Michalopulos :

          Scott, I only wish more priests agreed with you. Rather than castigate individual priests, let me just make this observation: I believe we are soon going to be witnessing a major split within the GOA, between those few parish priests who have been influenced by the Athonite revival and the others who long ago became conformed to the world. While it is true that some pietists have gone too far (or can go overboard) the lengths to which the more liberal priests go to castigate those who are trying to inculcate spiritual formation is disturbing.

          • Scott Pennington :

            George,

            My view of GOARCH is admittedly quite parochial. I’ve only been to a few Greek parishes within a few hours of my town. I mention that to convey that you have much wider knowledge of GOARCH, despite not being in it anymore, than I do.

            Schism is always a tragedy. But sometimes a necessary tragedy, given the attitudes that people can adopt. As long as we all officially proclaim the same faith, I suppose intercommunion is appropriate. Nonetheless, all should work for a rebirth in appreciation of the traditional ways of doing things.

            If there is to be a schism, let it be a schism initiated by the more liberal hierarchs or priests against the Athonite monasteries and those who side with them. I’m sure there would be a jurisdiction willing to accept them. Otherwise, if someone is concerned about a lack of orthopraxis in their jurisdiction, they should switch to another more conservative one. One caveat though: we are not congregationalists. To be a communicant of the OCA, or ROCOR is to share the same faith, at least officially, as GOARCH or Antioch. If that were not the case, we would not be in communion.

            “Blessed are ye who are persecuted for My sake.”

  29. George Michalopulos :

    Scott, I too miss the old Southern culture of my youth (which was dying out). Having said that, I would caution all concerned that the seeds of destruction of Anglo-Germanic culture were planted here or there or anywhere/anytime. Speaking as someone of Greek descent, I can honestly say that in our fallen world, all cultures/races/ethnicities/etc. bring inherent strengths and weaknesses to the table. Hence, I disdain the religiously segregational triumphalism that all too many of display. In fact, I ferventl7y believe that such an attitude contains the seeds of our own destruction as a viable Orthodoxy Church.

    I honestly don’t know how Orthodoxy is going to sanctify our culture at present, however we must persevere and try as best we can. Perhaps the Holy Spirit in His mercy will forgive us and allow the broken vessels that we manifestly are to be the vehicles of salvation wherever we are planted.

  30. cynthia curran :

    I have read states like California might be more racists than the South. The most hate crimes are committed in that state. And its not just the old white versus black. Both Black and hispanic, and sometimes asians and hispanics. beside white versus black and white versus hispanic.

  31. George Michalopulos :

    Cynthia, you’re right. Increased Hispanic immigration will lead to more racism. For one thing, most Hispanics have not been inculcated in feelings of white guilt. (Nor have other immigrants for that matter.) In many cities, they have displaced black people via violent pogroms. The reason one doesn’t hear about these incidents is two-fold I believe: first, because these areas were decaying anyway, and second, because it discombubulates the prevailing leftist narrative of the “gorgeous mosaic” that is contemporary urban America.

    Hence, Hispanics can get away with belonging to racialist groups like La Raza (which means “the Race”) but not whites.

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