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Author Topic: Let's Get Real About Priestly "Indiscretions" by Fr. Aris Metrakos  (Read 9439 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: September 22, 2007, 12:56:50 AM »

Let's Get Real About Priestly "Indiscretions"

http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles7/MetrakosSexualSin.php

Fr. Aris Metrakos

Aren't we disgusted with the shocking number of high-profile cases of priests engaged in pedophilia, homosexual activity, and adultery? Some excuse this behavior with the platitudes "a sin is a sin" and "we are all sinners." Uh, excuse me?

Persons who say "a sin is a sin" don't live in the real world. My wife is more than forgiving when I snap at her for no reason. I don't think that she would be that charitable if I were to come home smelling of another woman's perfume.

I concede that we are all sinners, but clergy relinquish the right to even think of engaging in certain classes of sin. When a priest sins sexually he damages the Church the way that crooked judges, lawyers, and police officers damage the legal system. How can anyone not understand this?

Looking back on my seminary years, nobody ever told me that I shouldn't put my hand on an altar boy's private parts, leave my wife for a man, or go to bed with someone other than my wife. Come to think of it, they didn't tell me not to eat yellow snow, either. The faculty assumed that we all knew better.

There's a saying about the word assume. If you don't know it, ask somebody who served in the military to explain it to you. So, rather than assume that seminarians and young clergy know right from wrong with regard to sexual matters, here are some essential rules of behavior for those preparing for and serving in the priesthood:

If you are delaying ordination until you find Miss Right, then be willing to wait for the appropriate woman to come into your life. Rushing into marriage with the wrong person is like voluntarily infecting yourself with an incurable illness. Ask any married person -- our spouse will either make us or break us. The priesthood poses enough difficulties without having the millstone of the wrong wife around your neck.

If you have sexual fantasies about anything other than a woman, get help. If these ideations persist, choose a different career.

If your heterosexual fantasies occupy as much of your time as they did when you were 15, see an experienced confessor. If you are married and have persistent sexual fantasies about anyone other than your wife, again, see the confessor.

If your marriage needs fixing, then go to counseling. If counseling doesn't work, you have three options: separation, divorce, or "gutting it out." Finding a mistress is not an acceptable alternative.

Appearances matter. Don't put yourself in situations where your integrity can be challenged. Don't stay in the same room with children when no other adults are present. Don't go swimming with anybody other than other clergy, and certainly not with minors. Don't meet repeatedly for one-on-one counseling sessions with the same person outside of normal office hours. Don't meet with a long-time female friend in a hotel room when you are together at a conference. Don't give rides to a woman or a child unless other people are in the car.

It's not too late until it's too late. If you are counseling a woman and you are attracted to her, send her to another priest. If you are about to walk into the bedroom of a person who is not your wife, walk away. If you are kissing someone other than your wife -- stop, and get on the phone with a priest-friend whom you can trust.
All sexual misconduct is unjustifiable. Some child abusers excuse themselves because they were victims of abuse. Yet plenty of adult survivors of molestations go on to have normal sex lives. Get help. And before you put your hand where it doesn't belong, remember how bad it felt when it was done to you.

And all sexual misconduct deserves the maximum penalty. When persons on the bench, in the bar, or with a badge undermine the legal system they get locked up for a long time; they are held to a higher standard. Priests who are pedophiles, homosexual predators, and adulterers need to be defrocked -- not only to send a message but to protect the Church and her members. Some of them need jail time too.

And why give a wolf in shepherd's clothing a second chance to ravage the flock? Maybe an adulterous pastor who had one occasion of adultery could be given a second -- and last -- chance, but only after plenty of counseling and a transfer to the other side of the continent. The rest need to be removed.

The second century priest-martyr Haralambos was dragged by his beard through the streets because he refused to deny Christ. In the 21st century, clerics drag the good name of the priesthood and the Church through the tabloids and the evening news. Sexual sin among the clergy must stop.


Rev. Aris P. Metrakos is the pastor of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Columbia, South Carolina. He is frequent retreat leader and speaker for both teens and adults. Prior to attending seminary, Fr. Aris was an aviator for the US Navy. He travels annually to Romania to help the Romanian Orthodox Church establish ministries for Romanian youth. You can contact Fr. Aris at FrMetrakos@orthodoxytoday.org.
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« Reply #1 on: September 22, 2007, 01:11:53 AM »

Axios! Mustahek! He is worthy! Thank God for priests like Fr. Aris Metrakos!
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« Reply #2 on: September 22, 2007, 01:29:48 AM »

Why stop with the clergy alone?
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« Reply #3 on: September 22, 2007, 01:33:17 AM »

Why stop with the clergy alone?

Demetri,

Laity cannot be defrocked...but they can be excommunicated. Fr. Aris hits the nail on the head when he writes:

"I concede that we are all sinners, but clergy relinquish the right to even think of engaging in certain classes of sin. When a priest sins sexually he damages the Church the way that crooked judges, lawyers, and police officers damage the legal system. How can anyone not understand this?"
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« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2007, 01:43:23 AM »

OK,


"Why stop with the clergy alone"?
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« Reply #5 on: September 22, 2007, 01:58:45 AM »

OK,


"Why stop with the clergy alone"?

Αριστοκλής I agree with what your saying but clergy purposely put themselves in a position of Authority and responsibility and they should be more aware of the choice that they are going to make if they take on the priesthood. But on the other side I completely agree everyone would do themselves good to read this regardless of your role in the church.
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« Reply #6 on: September 22, 2007, 02:43:19 AM »

Well, this Fr. Aris guy seems to be getting a bit emotional...maybe he needs to step back from the issue for a while.

On second though, perhaps he should step away entirely and leave the matter of who to ordain, who to transfer, and who to defrock to, I don't know, maybe the episcopacy? Roll Eyes
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« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2007, 03:41:34 AM »

Well, this Fr. Aris guy seems to be getting a bit emotional...maybe he needs to step back from the issue for a while.

On second though, perhaps he should step away entirely and leave the matter of who to ordain, who to transfer, and who to defrock to, I don't know, maybe the episcopacy? Roll Eyes
It's not OK for Fr. Aris to voice his clerical opinion on this important matter?  It's not his business to give instruction to a specific bishop, but it is well within the authority of his office to speak of what's good for the faithful of the Orthodox Church.

Maybe someone here should leave matters of the priesthood to, I don't know, maybe the priests? Roll Eyes
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« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2007, 08:14:27 AM »

To the bishops.
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« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2007, 11:24:22 AM »

It's not OK for Fr. Aris to voice his clerical opinion on this important matter?  It's not his business to give instruction to a specific bishop, but it is well within the authority of his office to speak of what's good for the faithful of the Orthodox Church.

Maybe someone here should leave matters of the priesthood to, I don't know, maybe the priests? Roll Eyes

This tirade is a direct assault on those who actually make the decisions of which he writes, the bishops. Who, I might add, are often capable of addressing the issue far more objectively and with far less emotional involvement than this priest.

As Fr. Aris said, priests are held to a higher standard, so when he makes an attack on the episcopacy by, in essence, condemning their pastoral decisions of economy, he should not expect impunity. If a bishop rules in mercy instead of condemnation, what right does anyone have to speak against this?
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« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2007, 11:49:29 AM »

This tirade is a direct assault on those who actually make the decisions of which he writes, the bishops. Who, I might add, are often capable of addressing the issue far more objectively and with far less emotional involvement than this priest.

As Fr. Aris said, priests are held to a higher standard, so when he makes an attack on the episcopacy by, in essence, condemning their pastoral decisions of economy, he should not expect impunity. If a bishop rules in mercy instead of condemnation, what right does anyone have to speak against this?

God bless!+

We all are called to guard and keep pure the Faith! So Father Aris is right.
When we see a brother sinning we should not be quiet says St. Basil the great in his Rules, because this is Ignorance tarned as mercy!

And what " higher" is a priest than a lay brother. Like I have written in an other post some Bishops today are not guiding their flock!

When a Priest sins the whole parish suffers( the whole church)and all members are called to stop it otherwise they are also guilty.
The Bishops in orthodoxy are not infallible!

In CHRIST
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« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2007, 11:58:06 AM »

God bless!+

We all are called to guard and keep pure the Faith! So Father Aris is right.
When we see a brother sinning we should not be quiet says St. Basil the great in his Rules, because this is Ignorance tarned as mercy!

And what " higher" is a priest than a lay brother. Like I have written in an other post some Bishops today are not guiding their flock!

When a Priest sins the whole parish suffers( the whole church)and all members are called to stop it otherwise they are also guilty.
The Bishops in orthodoxy are not infallible!

In CHRIST

The Bishops may not be infallible, but they are authoritative in these matters. Those who would condemn or criticize a bishop for showing mercy are hypocrites, they are pharisees, pretenders to the faith; perhaps they should remove the plank which is pride from their own eyes before they seek to remove the speck of mercy from their brother's, no from their father's, eye.
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« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2007, 12:23:44 PM »

The Bishops may not be infallible, but they are authoritative in these matters. Those who would condemn or criticize a bishop for showing mercy are hypocrites, they are pharisees, pretenders to the faith; perhaps they should remove the plank which is pride from their own eyes before they seek to remove the speck of mercy from their brother's, no from their father's, eye.

God bless!+

It has nothing to do with mercy to accept the betraying of faith ! This mercy sets himself and others under condemnation ( I think this is not mercy) It is like to be quiet when you see your child burning his hand at the cooker would you call this mercy???

A russian Priest asks:
Whenever I read discussions regarding [altar] curtains, pews, organs, vigil services, clergy appearance, etc. my mind involuntarily keeps asking the question, "Where were the Bishops?"

It is the Bishop's responsibility to insure that good order and Orthopraxis is maintained in the parishes under his direction. When the first churches with pews started to be built in this country, where were the Bishops? I imagine that all of these churches were duly consecrated by a Bishop, and had episcopal services at least once a year. In theory, the Bishop should have been asked to approve the building plans before construction, as well. If the Bishop saw pews in the building plans, why didn't he say, "Sorry, no pews."? Or if he came into a newly-built church that had installed pews, why didn't he say, "The pews go, or I will not consecrate this church."? The Bishop's responsibility at that time would have been to explain to the congregation that pews were outside of the tradition of the church. He should have brought the issue up at the next Bishops' council meeting and had an official statement issued that pews were not acceptable. Why didn't those Bishops do this?

The same goes with curtains and royal doors. If a Bishop came to visit a parish and noticed that there was no curtain, it was his responsibility to instruct the Priest and the congregation that a curtain was an absolute requirement and insist that it be installed or punitive measures would be taken. This is just simple church order and discipline.

If the first time a Bishop walked into a church that had installed an organ and said, "Sorry, no organ," we wouldn't have these problems today. If the first time a Bishop saw a Priest wearing a clergy shirt or a suit jacket said, "Put on your rassa—you are never to appear in front of your parishioners without it," we wouldn't have this issue being a problem today.

It is the Bishop's direct responsibility to ensure good order in his diocese. The Bishop, finding out that a Priest doesn't serve vigil services on Saturday night, has the responsibility of correcting him. Bishops doing their jobs meet with their Priests, visit parishes, issue directives, and maintain good order.

The problem in this country is that the Bishops of most jurisdictions failed  to do their jobs—they allowed innovations to creep in and did nothing about it.

So, let's not blame these things on the influence of American culture—every one of these departures from established Orthodox tradition was allowed either overtly or tacitly by Bishops—who knew these things were wrong and did nothing to correct them


He is speaking of Bishops in the states but it can be the same in other countries!

Elder Gervasios:

The Bishops are the guardians of the sacred deposit of the Canons. Like other Lions and eagles -eagles and lions adorn the Bishops throne -they defend and attack, they inspire and raise up their
faithful, battling for the keeping and implemenation of the canons and tradition. WOE to the generation of those Christians, whose Bishops neglected or ceased struggling for this battle above all!

In CHRIST


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« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2007, 12:53:16 PM »

It has nothing to do with mercy to accept the betraying of faith ! This mercy sets himself and others under condemnation ( I think this is not mercy) It is like to be quiet when you see your child burning his hand at the cooker would you call this mercy???

Of course, the issues at hand a pastoral decisions of the Bishops of the Church, not dogma. The very premise of your argument is flawed.

And let's not make this yet ANOTHER discussion about pews and organs. Roll Eyes
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« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2007, 01:26:18 PM »

Of course, the issues at hand a pastoral decisions of the Bishops of the Church, not dogma.

I didn't see anything in Fr. Aris' article that instructed any hierarch to do anything. His article seemed to be addressed (1) to men thinking about pursuing ordination and (2) his fellow clergymen. Even the latter part of the article contained only general statements about disciplinary actions -- which, by the way, do fall within the strictly defined canonical authority of the priesthood, since the Spiritual Court of First Instance includes members of the presbytery.

At any rate, matters of authority are secondary to the real issue, i.e. the serious nature of clerical sexual misconduct.
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« Reply #15 on: September 22, 2007, 02:01:37 PM »

I didn't see anything in Fr. Aris' article that instructed any hierarch to do anything. His article seemed to be addressed (1) to men thinking about pursuing ordination and (2) his fellow clergymen. Even the latter part of the article contained only general statements about disciplinary actions -- which, by the way, do fall within the strictly defined canonical authority of the priesthood, since the Spiritual Court of First Instance includes members of the presbytery.

At any rate, matters of authority are secondary to the real issue, i.e. the serious nature of clerical sexual misconduct.

I do not believe that matters of authority are secondary, but rather corollary to the primary issue, which is the right of a bishop to use discretion and economy in the specific applications of canonical principals.
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« Reply #16 on: September 22, 2007, 04:07:02 PM »

Of course, the issues at hand a pastoral decisions of the Bishops of the Church, not dogma. The very premise of your argument is flawed.

And let's not make this yet ANOTHER discussion about pews and organs. Roll Eyes

God bless!+

Please forgive me but it makes not difference if you are guilty of fornication or a heresy in both cases the canons sets you under anathema! ( In the contrary heresy after repenting from it is cured immediatly instead fornication usually takes a long time of recovery ) Undecided

I think we haved discussed enouph that faith and tradition are the same! Every Bishop promises at his election to hold strict the canons! Huh

And I think it is important because the canons usually want to protect from such sins. This is the reason the canons want that priest set themselfes aside from the secular world (trough rassa beards....that they should not go to bars...)
I think it is not possible to live in celibathy when one seperates not from the normal way of living! It was always hard but much more in our times were everywhere are temptations and sinful behavier.
This is also the problem of the catholic priests, they want to live in celibaty but do all that usual people doing!
When you want to live in celibathy one must strict fast, pray, stay away from luxus and wealthy and comfortable life because otherwise its not possible! Instead of life pure they will destroy themselfes and others ( but not because they are perverts but because they are humans and all humans have sexual desire)! Cry

Please pray for me!

In CHRIST




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« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2007, 04:21:05 PM »

Please forgive me but it makes not difference if you are guilty of fornication or a heresy in both cases the canons sets you under anathema! ( In the contrary heresy after repenting from it is cured immediatly instead fornication usually takes a long time of recovery ) Undecided
Really?  Which canons?  (Not that both fornication and heresy separate the guilty from the life of the Holy Mysteries, for they most certainly do, but that fornication draws the same penalty of anathema as heresy--this is news to me.)

Quote
I think we haved discussed enouph that faith and tradition are the same!
Really?  You've certainly preached this enough, but I don't think we've discussed this enough, if by discussion we mean actual dialogue and debate.

Quote
Every Bishop promises at his election to hold strict the canons! Huh
Really?  And how do you know what a bishop promises at his election?  What of oikonomia, or the relaxation of the canons in specific situations out of pastoral concern for one's salvation?  This, too, is part of Holy Tradition.

Quote
This is also the problem of the catholic priests, they want to live in celibaty but do all that usual people doing!
When you want to live in celibathy one must strict fast, pray, stay away from luxus and wealthy and comfortable life because otherwise its not possible! Instead of life pure they will destroy themselfes and others ( but not because they are perverts but because they are humans and all humans have sexual desire)! Cry
Honestly, I need to join my voice with lubeltri on this issue and ask why you need to finish so many of your posts with pot shots against the Roman Catholics.
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« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2007, 05:12:27 PM »

Really?  And how do you know what a bishop promises at his election? 

You could look in the service books to see a sample text of the Mega Minima, if you want to see what most Bishops promise during the formal acceptance of their election. I think our friend Christodoulos was actually thinking about the Profession of Faith during the services leading up to the Hierarchal ordination.

http://www.goarch.org/en/chapel/liturgical_texts/ordination-bishop-gr.asp

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« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2007, 05:13:42 PM »


Really?  You've certainly preached this enough, but I don't think we've discussed this enough, if by discussion we mean actual dialogue and debate.


Not to interrupt Smiley, but this might be a good article for everyone to read.  It is titled "The Refined Life of Observant Orthodox Traditionalism", written by Abp. Chrysostom of Etna of the Synod in Resistance. http://www.synodinresistance.org/Publications_en/OT_1_2007.pdf  (it starts on page 22)

It seemed like a pretty good article from what I read of it.  Take a minute to look at it, I know it is written by an Old Calendarist but sometimes we get some things right Wink.  
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« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2007, 05:16:45 PM »

Link no work...

That's funny.  The link works in my quote.  Could it be a browser issue?
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« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2007, 05:21:45 PM »

Link no work...

That's funny.  The link works in my quote.  Could it be a browser issue?

Thanks for telling me, I fixed it Smiley.

Anyways, the article has good stuff in it IMO for both Old Calendarists and New Calendarists Smiley.
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« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2007, 05:27:11 PM »

Thanks for telling me, I fixed it Smiley.
Yep.  It works now.  Thank you. Smiley
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« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2007, 05:50:04 PM »

If I may add my own thoughts to all this too.

I think there needs to be a balance between using economia and using akrevia (strictness).  It is good to use economia in some cases but you can also use too much of it, just like you can use too much akrevia.  For example, there is a Genuine Orthodox Church under Met. Pavlos in Detroit that has pews, and many of the other GOC parishes have chairs (not only along the wall).  This would be a good case of economia (although personally I prefer the beautiful Greek carved chairs at the Cathedral in New York over pews haha who wouldn't).  However, economia can go to the other extreme, to the point where you aren't even living an Orthodox lifestyle because everything from A-Z has been economized.  However, the other extreme is akrevia, never using economia, which can lead to some people giving up and leaving the Church altogether.  Orthodoxy is about finding a balance, and I believe it applies here as well.     

I think the article I posted does a good job in saying how Orthodox practice is important but it is also important to apply it to the modern world. 
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« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2007, 07:53:03 PM »

Really?  Which canons?  (Not that both fornication and heresy separate the guilty from the life of the Holy Mysteries, for they most certainly do, but that fornication draws the same penalty of anathema as heresy--this is news to me.)
Really?  You've certainly preached this enough, but I don't think we've discussed this enough, if by discussion we mean actual dialogue and debate.
Really?  And how do you know what a bishop promises at his election?  What of oikonomia, or the relaxation of the canons in specific situations out of pastoral concern for one's salvation?  This, too, is part of Holy Tradition.
Honestly, I need to join my voice with lubeltri on this issue and ask why you need to finish so many of your posts with pot shots against the Roman Catholics.

God bless!+

Yes what I want to say was that fornication/adultery after confessing and repenting needs time to recovery (like an Illness) for example St. Basil the great:58th canon: For those you have commited adultery is excluded from the Mysteries for 15 years. 4 years weeoing,5 years listening,4 years kneel,and 2 years without receiving communion stand !

But when someone repents and returns from a heresy he can immediatly receive the mysteries!

What Bishops have to promisis you can read from the service text annd:

As it is known, every Bishop during his ordination makes an archpriestly oath which in part runs as follows: "I promise to observe the Canons of the Holy Apostles and of the Seven General Councils, and of the pious Local Councils, which have been legitimized for the preservation of rightful behests, and all Canons and Holy Statute inasmuch as they have been made up at various times by those who truly uphold the Holy Eastern Orthodox faith, and to firmly preserve all of these inviolate to the end of my life and with this my promise I give witness that all things that they have accepted I also accept and whatsoever things they have rejected I also reject. ... If I should transgress any of my promises given here, or to break any of the Divine regulations ... Then let me be immediately deprived of my office and of my authority, even without being denounced or accused, and let me be devoid of the heavenly gift, which was granted me by the Holy Spirit during ordination through the laying on of hands".
See  Bishop Nikodim, "Pravila Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi s tolkovaniiami" (The Rules of Orthodox Church with Explanations), vols. 1-2, St. Petersburg Theological Academy, 1911-1912.

And not only Bishops when I remember right when someone converted in our parish and I had to help
he also had to promis to follow the teaching of the church ,the canons and dogmas (but I do not remember exactly)

I did not want to end my post with a shot, in the contrary I apologized for the sinful priests!
I only want to write that when we oppress sexual desire and do not transform it with spiritual practice
(fasting, intense prayer,mysteries , ascetic practice.....) we will harm us ( mental illness) or others !
Did not the Apostel Paul wrote about the burning and that it can become dangerous ...

In CHRIST

Please pray for me!



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« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2007, 08:14:16 PM »


If you have sexual fantasies about anything other than a woman, get help. If these ideations persist, choose a different career.


So a celibate male with same sex attraction should choose a different "career" (as if the priesthood was a career), and/or "get help"?  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #26 on: September 22, 2007, 08:42:10 PM »

Tamara, thanks for posting this article! It's really uplifting to see priests like this. And don't worry about the flak you're getting from the detractors, they're probably worried about being in his cross-hairs.  Wink
Mabruk to Fr. Aris!

 
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« Reply #27 on: September 22, 2007, 09:54:59 PM »

Tamara, thanks for posting this article! It's really uplifting to see priests like this. And don't worry about the flak you're getting from the detractors, they're probably worried about being in his cross-hairs.  Wink
Mabruk to Fr. Aris!

 

Don't worry...I am not worried about the flak. Fr.Aris knows this is not some theoretical problem in the Orthodox church.
Shocked The list of sexual abusers grows by the week:
 http://www.orthodoxreform.org/  (scroll down and the names appear on the left hand side)

One OCA seminarian took his own life in March of 2007 after being abused by a priest at SVOTS.

Below is a great article on this problem.

http://yya.oca.org/TheHub/Articles/TheChurchonCurrentIssues/sexual_abuse.htm 


When The Unspeakable Happens:
Sexual Abuse In God's Family
by Ellen Gvosdev, Ph.D.

It is time for the church family to bring sexual abuses out of the closet, to face this problem, and to move forward rebuilding the shattered image of the family of God when such abuses occur. Overt sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape, molestation, incest all happen in the Orthodox Church.

The perpetrator can be a trusted family friend, a parent or relative, the conscientious parish volunteer, or even one who is ordained. The abusive behavior can be termed "violence against women" when adult females are victims of humiliating or debasing remarks, unwanted and/or threatening behavior, or downright criminal acts. When children are the victims, the sexual abuse perpetrated against them is in the form of pedophilia or incest. Within the church family, acts of abuse or violence are also perpetrated against men, in some instances cleric upon cleric.

In all such cases, these acts of sexual persecution and violence are not "sexual" in nature, but rather stem from issues of power and control. There is a potential for such abuses whenever someone is in position of power over another, or assumes a position of power over another.

The term "violence" is used even if the abuse itself is not physically violent because any such abuse is an attack on the spirit, a violation of the person. All such abuses are unethical, immoral, and spiritually as well as emotionally damaging. Many such behaviors are illegal and/or criminal: overt harassment is against the law; molestation of children is a crime that must be reported to civil authorities; rape is a criminal offense; any sexual relationship between a clergyman and an adult female parishioner is not considered consensual, but tantamount to incest in over 10 states as well as being considered unethical by all major religious judicatories.

While victims can be of any age, physical bearing, or education, women and children who are especially needy emotionally, overly trusting, and unquestioningly obedient to authority are most vulnerable. Perpetrators can be "loving" fathers and husbands, pillars of the church, charismatic clergymen, "humble" monks.

When abuses are suspected or reported.

Some facts for clergy to consider when abuse is suspected, or a victim or victims come forth with reports of abuse:

1) Perpetrators are repeat offenders. Whether the perpetrator is a pedophile or involved in misconduct/abuse with adults, the perpetrator will have many victims. Once
an abuse has occurred, it will occur again either in the same place, or a new place. Hiding the misconduct and removing a perpetrator from the scene does no good. if the victims are children or the abuse violent, it must be reported to civil authorities.

2) Offenders lie, minimize their behavior, deny misconduct, and/or implicate the victim reversing the situation, blaming the victim, If they admit to a wrong-doing, they will act remorseful and even provide proof of their good intentions to never repeat Please be mindful that perpetrators need to receive professional help in order to begin to heal emotionally and psychologically, and some perpetrators may never be cured.

3) Spiritual guidance for both perpetrators and victims must be done in conjunction with professional therapy. In the case of children and female victims, it is essential to use a female spiritual guide/advocate. Do not feel pressured to offer quick forgiveness to perpetrators, but rather include absolution as a condition for proven change (continued therapy, fulfillment of civil punishment, etc.)

4) Especially in the case of offenses committed within the church family, remember that "God", the "God factor", "religion" will be used as part of the offence. Sometimes this takes the form of persuasion using "God", other times the "God factor" becomes almost satanic.

5) Believe the victims. Research and experience show that victims rarely lie about sexual abuse, in the case of children, less than 1%.

6) Clergy must seek out resources for parishioners who are victims of domestic violence, and not try to take the place of professionals trained to deal with such cases. Likewise seek advocacy for victims of clerical sexual misconduct.

A few signs of child abuse include, but are not limited to: the physical, unusual knowledge of things sexual, emotional problems including bedwetting, unfounded fears of persons or places, acting out, boisterous behavior, withdrawn behavior. Reporting child abuse has been called an "ethical mandate" for ministry. (The Center for Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence) Failure by professionals (that includes clergymen) to report suspected child abuse is a misdemeanor in most states. Research has shown that pedophiles gravitate to professions and institutions that enable them by giving them access to children. The church, therefore, is not immune.

Protecting against accusations.

What can a bishop or priest do to protect himself against accusations or questionable situations? As a rule of thumb, do not say something to a woman that you would not say to a man. Hugging or kissing a parishioner is all right if it is done to male and female alike and in an equal manner. Do not touch a woman in a way that you would not touch a man. Ask yourself, would I do or say this if my parents (or my bishop or God Himself) were watching me?

In the case of children, do not create situations that may raise concern: for example, don't take overnight trips alone with the altar boys; don't be alone with young children of either sex. It is a good idea to meet with children and/or parishioners of either sex in open, more public facilities. Don't visit a female parishioner if she is home alone. Bring someone with you.

If you are the victim of another cleric, write down the facts, and then speak to a trusted bishop or priest about the facts. You have recently received guidelines from the Holy Synod on appropriate actions to take. Do not attempt to see or speak to the perpetrator. (It is never a good idea for a victim to come face to face with the perpetrator.) Work for justice-making and help for all concerned.


Anyone can be a perpetrator.

This article has been geared more toward the clergy, addressing issues of clerical sexual misconduct; either on how to present personal involvement or how to deal with allegations. The importance of this issue, as well as the sensitive nature of the issue has demanded an overview of the situation. However, in no way should it be construed that only clerics abuse. Any member of the church family, male or female, can be the perpetrator. It is necessary to keep an open mind and adjudicate the issue for the benefit of the church family. We can help our brothers and sisters by education, understanding, and sensitivity to the issues involved.

If there is abuse in your parish, remember that the parish is a family and all members of the family suffer. Be honest regarding the abuse, and seek spiritual guidance for healing the congregation. The unspeakable does happen in the church family, but it does not signal the destruction of faith or spirituality. Handling the situation correctly is paramount to healing.

Dr. Ellen Gvozdev has her Ph.D. in Pastoral Practice with a speciality in clerical sexual abuse and misconduct. For specific information, educational programs, advocacy, position papers and/or lectures on this delicate issue, contact her at St. Nicholas Orthodox Church, Ft. Lauderdale, FL where her husband is pastor of the parish. Taken from the Resource Handbook for Lay Ministries. For more information go to the OCA website.
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« Reply #28 on: September 22, 2007, 11:45:16 PM »

I think that one of the major problems with sexual abuse by those in authority over the young is that for a long time, it was denied even when it was discovered. In France in 1858, the French psychiatrist, Briquet, was the first to make the connection between what was then called "hysteria" (dissociative disorder) and childhood trauma. When it emerged that a very large proportion of these childhood traumas involved incest, the shock to 19th century French culture was so great, that people denied that incest could happen in a Catholic country, and decided that the "hysterical" people were reporting false memories. In other words, society went into denial by "discrediting" Briquet.  As a result Child Sexual Assault was allowed to continue unhindered and unimpeded for another 120 years. It was not until the late 70's that the Feminist Movement first brought the plight of Child Sexual Assault victims to the public attention.
Like rape, Sexual Abuse of those one has authority over is not so much about sex, but about power- the power to control others. So the reality is that those in power will never be seen as credible in their attempts to deal with it, no matter how genuine their efforts may be. The only way to deal with it is through transparency, which is exactly what the Gospel commands us to do:

"And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light:
 for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
" (Ephesians 5:11-13)


"You are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hidden." (Matthew 5:14)


The only way to stop terrible abuse done in secret is to shine light on it. The only way the Church can have any credibility that it is fighting abuse of power is by ensuring it can't happen by being a "city on a hill" for all to see. This is good advice, not only for Priests, but for all who are in trusted positions of authority. Don't place yourself in compromising positions. These practices are in fact, nothing new to the Church. The Church did this instinctively for centuries. For one thousand years, the Athonite prohibition of women and beardless men under 18 years of age staying on the Holy Mountain is just one example.

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« Reply #29 on: September 22, 2007, 11:58:34 PM »

Tamara, thanks for posting this article! It's really uplifting to see priests like this. And don't worry about the flak you're getting from the detractors, they're probably worried about being in his cross-hairs.  Wink
Mabruk to Fr. Aris!

Because all of us who sit on the liberal side of the debates on morality ourselves engage in all types of sexual promiscuity and deviance. Roll Eyes

Perhaps some of us just see the inherent absurdity of comparing consensual sex between two adults and pedophila (which is done indirectly in the tirade from the OP).

Others, I am sure, see the absurdity of trying to limit the pastoral actions of the bishops based on the personal opinions of a given priest.

And perhaps some of us take issue with both.

In my observation, those most guilty of these things in the Church will publically denounce they very things they engage in...there is much truth to the old observation that homophobes are just repressed homosexuals who hate themselves because of it. What one publically says and privately does are not all ways one and the same, especially in a conservative cultural context such as the Church.

There was a time when I would watch my words and did not publically support these elements of my more libertarian values becaused I worried about the very accusations you seem to be making here. Fortunately, I'm now secure enough in my sexuality that I don't particularly care. So, don't worry, I'm more than willing to call you out when you use fallacies like this in your debate. Wink
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« Reply #30 on: September 23, 2007, 01:02:37 AM »


 Forgive me but,

Because all of us who sit on the liberal side of the debates on morality ourselves engage in all types of sexual promiscuity and deviance. Roll Eyes
I neither said nor implied that.

Perhaps some of us just see the inherent absurdity of comparing consensual sex between two adults and pedophila (which is done indirectly in the tirade from the OP).
You seem to be missing the whole point here. Orthodox priests are forbidden to be priests and engage in homosexual sex. There is no "consensual".

Others, I am sure, see the absurdity of trying to limit the pastoral actions of the bishops based on the personal opinions of a given priest.
So if a priest uses his office to write an article, it's to be assumed he's trying to limit the pastoral actions of the bishops? Interesting.

And perhaps some of us take issue with both.
Indeed. What else are we to expect from the far left extreme elements?  Roll Eyes

In my observation, those most guilty of these things in the Church will publically denounce they very things they engage in...there is much truth to the old observation that homophobes are just repressed homosexuals who hate themselves because of it.
So better the bishops, priests, deacons, and ascetics should keep quiet for fear the libs will think them guilty?

There was a time when I would watch my words
Sadly for the rest of us, those days are long gone.  Just kidding. You've been camping out up on that podium for so long that we wouldn't know what to think if you ever came down.  Cheesy

 In Christ,


 
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« Reply #31 on: September 23, 2007, 02:43:56 AM »

Well, this Fr. Aris guy seems to be getting a bit emotional...maybe he needs to step back from the issue for a while.
Why are emotions a bad thing? Being "rational" does not mean ignoring your emotions, it means understanding them. Guilt is an emotion, and we can see the results of "switching it off" and being "purely rational" all over the world, and even in the Church.
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« Reply #32 on: September 23, 2007, 03:32:36 AM »

Why are emotions a bad thing? Being "rational" does not mean ignoring your emotions, it means understanding them. Guilt is an emotion, and we can see the results of "switching it off" and being "purely rational" all over the world, and even in the Church.

Guilt is a weakness, most emotion is weakness...yet they can also be what makes life worth living. So enjoy them, indulge in them, but do not be governed by them.
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« Reply #33 on: September 23, 2007, 03:43:16 AM »

Guilt is a weakness, most emotion is weakness...yet they can also be what makes life worth living. So enjoy them, indulge in them, but do not be governed by them.
How does one follow your advice and "indulge one's guilt" or "not be governed" by it if one is a paedophile? ......
My emotions are telling me that Fr. Ari's advice to priests is better than yours, and my reasoning is telling me why.....

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« Reply #34 on: September 23, 2007, 03:52:11 AM »

You seem to be missing the whole point here. Orthodox priests are forbidden to be priests and engage in homosexual sex. There is no "consensual".

Well, actually I was refering to both heterosexual and homosexual sex...neither are comprable to pedophilia.

As far as whether or not homosexual sex is 'forbidden', so long as it is being flaunted semi-publicly at all levels of the Church your abstract moral theories are pretty much moot. One can't hardly defrock someone for something they themselves do...at least not without being complete hypocrites.

Quote
So if a priest uses his office to write an article, it's to be assumed he's trying to limit the pastoral actions of the bishops? Interesting.

He put himself in the middle of a political issue, and did it in such a way as to avoid direct retaliation by those who do not want too much attention brought upon themselves. So it is most appropriate that those of us who both need not be concerned and don't particularly care attack the political basis of his argument.

Quote
Indeed. What else are we to expect from the far left extreme elements?  Roll Eyes

That's not a label I get every day. I guess we moderates peeve everyone. Wink

Quote
So better the bishops, priests, deacons, and ascetics should keep quiet for fear the libs will think them guilty?

Sounds like a great idea. At least, that's the ultimate goal of this particular line of rhetoric...in many cases it's working. It's also an approach that's above direct retaliation because of the academic nature of the approach.

Quote
Sadly for the rest of us, those days are long gone.  Just kidding. You've been camping out up on that podium for so long that we wouldn't know what to think if you ever came down.  Cheesy

Neither would I. Wink
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« Reply #35 on: September 23, 2007, 03:57:54 AM »

How does one follow your advice and "indulge one's guilt" or "not be governed" by it if one is a paedophile? ......
My emotions are telling me that Fr. Ari's advice to priests is better than yours, and my reasoning is telling me why.....

Even here emotion is not needed, reason alone will suffice. Every state in our union has laws forbidding pedophillia, most of which carry quite heavy sentences, often life in prison. Even if one were attracted to children, reason would dictate that the momentary pleasure is not worth the consequence.

And this is what I was getting at, govern your emotional indulgence with reason...never let the former be the deciding factor your course of action. Pleasure is good, and worthy of being sought after, but let it be kept in check by your reason, and only indulged when the benefits outweigh the costs.
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« Reply #36 on: September 23, 2007, 04:13:40 AM »

Even here emotion is not needed, reason alone will suffice. Every state in our union has laws forbidding pedophillia, most of which carry quite heavy sentences, often life in prison. Even if one were attracted to children, reason would dictate that the momentary pleasure is not worth the consequence.

And this is what I was getting at, govern your emotional indulgence with reason...never let the former be the deciding factor your course of action. Pleasure is good, and worthy of being sought after, but let it be kept in check by your reason, and only indulged when the benefits outweigh the costs.

GIC what do you think the purpose of a christian life is?
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« Reply #37 on: September 23, 2007, 11:16:50 PM »

Well, actually I was refering to both heterosexual and homosexual sex...neither are comprable to pedophilia.

As far as whether or not homosexual sex is 'forbidden', so long as it is being flaunted semi-publicly at all levels of the Church your abstract moral theories are pretty much moot. One can't hardly defrock someone for something they themselves do...at least not without being complete hypocrites.


 Huh   Shocked    Sad
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« Reply #38 on: September 23, 2007, 11:31:23 PM »

Let's Get Real About Priestly "Indiscretions"


Looking back on my seminary years, nobody ever told me that I shouldn't put my hand on an altar boy's private parts, leave my wife for a man, or go to bed with someone other than my wife. Come to think of it, they didn't tell me not to eat yellow snow, either. The faculty assumed that we all knew better.

There's a saying about the word assume. If you don't know it, ask somebody who served in the military to explain it to you. So, rather than assume that seminarians and young clergy know right from wrong with regard to sexual matters, here are some essential rules of behavior for those preparing for and serving in the priesthood...:.[/size]


I don't know I thought he was lecturing the seminaries faculty, seminarians, and those who graduated from them. I didn't get the feeling he was attacking the bishops.

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« Reply #39 on: September 24, 2007, 12:13:54 AM »



As far as whether or not homosexual sex is 'forbidden', so long as it is being flaunted semi-publicly at all levels of the Church your abstract moral theories are pretty much moot. One can't hardly defrock someone for something they themselves do...at least not without being complete hypocrites.
Now Father Aris is a hyocrite? Are you saying here that he engages in homosexual behavior? How are you privy to that information? Did you witness this or were you one of his partners?
And regardless of how you answer this, I think your point is moot. There's nothing abstract or theoretical about what the Church says re: homosexual behavior.
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« Reply #40 on: September 24, 2007, 01:18:45 AM »

I don't think GiC was talking about Fr. Aris specifically. He said "so long as it is being flaunted semi-publicly at all levels of the Church your abstract moral theories are pretty much moot."
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« Reply #41 on: September 24, 2007, 01:27:54 AM »

I don't think GiC was talking about Fr. Aris specifically. He said "so long as it is being flaunted semi-publicly at all levels of the Church your abstract moral theories are pretty much moot."
It wasn't clear who he was referring to as he also said

One can't hardly defrock someone for something they themselves do...at least not without being complete hypocrites.
Because Fr. Aris wrote the article, I assumed GiC was referring to him specifically and not some other priest. Maybe we should be more specific before we start yappin' away, generalizing and watering down the topic.
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« Reply #42 on: September 24, 2007, 01:50:27 AM »

I thought GIC was implying that this behavior is seen in all levels of the church and it is condoned with a wink because so many take part in it. But maybe GIC could do us all a favor and tell us exactly what he means since there seems to be some confusion as to what he is implying.
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« Reply #43 on: September 24, 2007, 01:52:34 AM »

I thought GIC was implying that this behavior is seen in all levels of the church and it is condoned with a wink because so many take part in it. But maybe GIC could do us all a favor and tell us exactly what he means since there seems to be some confusion as to what he is implying.
That's how I understood it too. GiC's point is that a Church which tolerates "semi-public" actively unchaste clergy has no right to make any pronouncements against anyone's unchastity. And this point holds, so long as GiC can show how the Church is tolerating this.
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« Reply #44 on: September 24, 2007, 02:19:15 AM »

Quote
And this point holds, so long as GiC can show how the Church is tolerating this.

He did attend a certain seminary...

I don't know if there is any point in airing gossip here, but he does have a valid point that if such peccadilloes are going on by those in power, they are unlikely to enforce matters among the lower clergy.  Too many Orthodox people in the US were gloating when the problems in the Roman Catholic seminary system came to light here...
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