|Press Release: Support Group Wants Greek Bishop to Apologize
December 22, 2008
After Multi-Million Dollar Settlement, He Claims Accusations Are "False"
Greek Orthodox Officials Should Discipline Denver-Based Cleric
A top Greek Orthodox church official is being harshly criticized for claiming that five men who reached a multi-million dollar child sex abuse settlement actually made up allegations.
Leaders of a support group for survivors of abuse in the Orthodox Churches are writing to Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis and the other members of the ruling body of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA). They want that group to discipline Metropolitan Isaiah Chronopoulos and force him to apologize for accusing the five men of lying.
In October, the men settled their lawsuit against Fr. Nicholas Katinas and numerous church entities. But two weeks ago, Chronopoulos publicly accused these victims of making false charges in that action. He made his allegations in a letter sent to all members of his Denver-based diocese, as well as posting them on the diocesan website.
"Chronopoulos should explain and apologize for his hurtful claims," said Melanie Jula Sakoda of Moraga, California. She is a co-founder of a San Francisco-based support group called Pokrov.org. "Church officials can't have their cake and eat it too. They can't pay millions to avoid an embarrassing public trial which will expose their complicity in child sex crimes, yet afterwards pretend the victims are lying."
In a December 22nd letter, sent by fax and email to Trakatellis and the denomination's Synod of Bishops, Sakoda writes, "Pokrov.org has in its files material submitted to the court before the case was sealed. Contrary to the metropolitan's claim, there was indeed evidence supporting the allegations of a cover-up."
"It's disgraceful for the metropolitan to claim that 'there was no cover-up by anyone in the parish or at the Metropolis' when the claims against both the church and the diocese were dismissed in the confidential settlement agreement."
Katinas was defrocked in July of 2007 because of child sexual abuse allegations by other men. There is also another lawsuit pending in Illinois against Katinas and the Greek Church.
Pokrov.org went online in June of 1999. It was founded by three Orthodox women who wanted to see the problem of sexual abuse in the Orthodox churches addressed. Pokrov is the Russian word for protection. There are a dozen or more Orthodox jurisdictions in the United States in addition to the GOA.
Metropolitan Isaiah oversees the Denver diocese of the GOA, which includes some 50 churches in an area from Montana to Texas. His title, Metropolitan, is one given to some Orthodox bishops. The metropolitan previously come under fire from Pokrov.org for taking almost four years to try the case of another priest accused of child sexual abuse. That clergyman, Fr. Gabriel Barrow, who worked in Toledo, Ohio, and Houston, Texas, was defrocked by the Greek Church in May of 2005.
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