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Author Topic: Fr. John Karastamatis: What Really Happened?  (Read 1111 times) Average Rating: 0
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JamesR
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« on: October 16, 2013, 03:31:34 AM »

I've been researching the story of Fr. John Karastamatis, the Greek Orthodox Priest from Santa Cruz who was murdered back in 1985. And I know that there is very much controversy surrounding him, and much of it relates to the subject of Canonization. Anyhow, I've just been wondering, what really happened and should he be venerated as a Saint at all? Let alone be a "martyr"? For example, the information about him on Orthodox websites seems to conflict very much with what the police reports and newspaper articles from the time say. One such example is an Orthodox website says that there were three murderers and that two of them drank cobra venom to commit suicide and that they were Satanist Priests. The secular sources such as the police report say that there were only two murderers and that only one of them committed suicide, and it was with a .38 caliber gunshot. Likewise, there is nothing to support that they were Satanists--let alone "Satanist Priests." In reality, they were parishioners at his Church. The only evidence I could see to even suggest possible Satanism is that they were both mentally ill. Maybe they had fantasies or bizarre visions that were Satanic, but saying that they were Satanist Priests when both of them were regular members of Fr. John's Church--the woman even a secretary--seems like a huge stretch that isn't sufficiently supported by evidence.

Likewise, was he really "martyred" because of his faith? AFAIK, the perpetrators have never given a motive for the murder, and the secular sources seem to contradict themselves on this part. Some say that they were attempting to rob the Church and Fr. John got in the way, some say that the Church was not robbed at all, and some say that the murder was rooted in a hatred of Fr. John's Orthodoxy. Likewise, another contradiction is that the Orthodox sources say that his blood was used to write Satanic imagery on the wall of the Church, whereas the police reports say that "the Church was not vandalized" during the murder. A vandalism involving Satanic imagery did occur, but it was months before the murder of Fr. John, and there is no evidence that the perpetrators were the same people who killed Fr. John. I see lots of holes, contradictions, and inconsistencies in this story. Even Fr. John's son commented on one of the Orthodox sites that the article was greatly misinformed and wrong on many points.

So what exactly happened here and what is the case with Fr. John Karastamatis? Some Orthodox circles venerate him as a Saint, but is there sufficient evidence and cause to regard him as such? I honestly don't think he was really martyred. He was a good man nonetheless, but a martyr? The evidence is very sketchy. And the awesome details surrounding it seem like myth. If the Church can't get a story right about an event that happened barely 30 years ago, who's to say that our stories about Saints going back over 1,000 years also aren't sketchy or false?
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« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2013, 05:55:08 AM »

If the Church can't get a story right about an event that happened barely 30 years ago, who's to say that our stories about Saints going back over 1,000 years also aren't sketchy or false?

I understand what you're saying and it would indeed be best to sort the matter of the good presbyter's death before any thought of glorification be entertained but did you have to include this line? Seems like an unnecessary amount of doubt-mongering to me.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 06:10:13 AM by Hawkeye » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2013, 07:49:25 AM »

If the Church can't get a story right about an event that happened barely 30 years ago, who's to say that our stories about Saints going back over 1,000 years also aren't sketchy or false?

I understand what you're saying and it would indeed be best to sort the matter of the good presbyter's death before any thought of glorification be entertained but did you have to include this line? Seems like an unnecessary amount of doubt-mongering to me.

And unknown in wider circles....best left to the local.Metropolis and the national Greek Synod.

In any case, Memory Eternal.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 07:49:59 AM by podkarpatska » Logged
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2013, 07:54:19 AM »

If the Church can't get a story right about an event that happened barely 30 years ago, who's to say that our stories about Saints going back over 1,000 years also aren't sketchy or false?

I understand what you're saying and it would indeed be best to sort the matter of the good presbyter's death before any thought of glorification be entertained but did you have to include this line? Seems like an unnecessary amount of doubt-mongering to me.

And unknown in wider circles....best left to the local.Metropolis and the national Greek Synod.

In any case, Memory Eternal.
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« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2013, 08:10:12 AM »

Likewise, another contradiction is that the Orthodox sources say that his blood was used to write Satanic imagery on the wall of the Church, whereas the police reports say that "the Church was not vandalized" during the murder.

I think you are speaking too generally when referring to "the Orthodox sources" and insinuating that "the Orthodox sources" contradict secular sources and police reports.  Misinformation can easily spread quite rapidly on the Internet as well as in the printed media.  I do not know of any "official Church sources" regarding the life and martyrdom of Fr. John, and without an official Orthodox version of his life and martyrdom I don't know why differing accounts by unofficial and anonymous sources on the Internet would cause you to doubt the accuracy of the hagiographies that have come down to us.  Most of the Hagiographies that we have are taken from eye-witness accounts and direct testimonies and are not simply the passing on of hearsay by anonymous people who have no direct connection to the person being spoken of or to the facts of the case.

John Sanidopoulos can be said to be an "Orthodox source", though he doesn't have the authority to offer an "official account".  He, however, does not mention anything about drinking Cobra poison, satanic imagery, or involvement in satanic ritual.  He states, for instance:

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In their investigation, the police reported no signs of vandalism or theft, nor were they able to locate any possible suspects. In the absence of a more plausible reason for the crime, it is most likely that the killing, like the church desecration a few months prior to it, was done at the hands of those who hated Fr. John for his holy work, of those who are the enemies of God and rebel against Him because they serve the first rebel, Satan. But whether Fr. John was killed for overtly satanic purposes or for other, irrational reasons, he had without doubt a martyric death, giving his life for Christ and dying in the very church in which he had diligently served Him. His face and fingers were so mutilated that the coffin had to be closed during the funeral services. http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/05/new-hieromartyr-john-karastamatis-of.html

An Orthodox priest was murdered in his church and he was not simply shot and killed.  He was brutally and gruesomely tortured and killed with no sound motive or explanation given.  Such an act can only be explained by an irrational and satanic hatred of a faithful priest because of his God-pleasing labors.  If parishioners attempted to rob their church and were caught, even nominal and sinful Orthodox would not then kill a priest.  They also did not simply shoot and kill him, but brutally and gruesomely tortured him.  No legitimate claims have been made that Fr. John did anything wrong or sinful to "deserve" this treatment.  Whether or not the murderers were "mentally ill", and whether or not they consciously tortured and murdered Fr. John because of his Orthodoxy, such a horrendous act is satanic by nature and the only thing Fr. John is known to have done to "deserve" this treatment is his service of God as a faithful Orthodox priest.  

There have been miracles attributed to Fr. John:
http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/05/miracles-of-saint-john-karastamatis-of.html
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2013, 09:48:32 AM »

I would tend to agree with the conclusion of the original post, based on the poster's review of the fact situation. And I've never heard of anything official about the church's "Recognition" of Fr. John as a saint.  The only thing I ever read about him came from an Old Calendar separatist publication, years ago, which implied that he was being venerated by followers of Fr. Seraphim Rose. However, John Sanidopoulos refers to him as a "saint," even noting the date is his commemoration, and Sanidopoulos is to be taken seriously.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2013, 09:51:07 AM by Basil 320 » Logged

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podkarpatska
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2013, 09:22:51 PM »

Just a sidenote, but I remember another Greek priest, Fr. George Pantelis, who was murdered in a robbery at the church in Buffalo, NY, I think around 1980 or so. We tend to forgot even in the clergy there are risks as evil doers associate the church with money. Eternal memory to both presbyters.
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« Reply #7 on: May 30, 2014, 04:56:49 PM »

I would tend to agree with the conclusion of the original post, based on the poster's review of the fact situation. And I've never heard of anything official about the church's "Recognition" of Fr. John as a saint.  The only thing I ever read about him came from an Old Calendar separatist publication, years ago, which implied that he was being venerated by followers of Fr. Seraphim Rose. However, John Sanidopoulos refers to him as a "saint," even noting the date is his commemoration, and Sanidopoulos is to be taken seriously.

Not sure why he should be taken seriously.
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