By Stan Shinn

“The lies conceal everything; the lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me. Live Not By Lies.” — Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Russian author Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote these words only hours before the Secret Police broke in and arrested him. He was subsequently exiled. A defender of the Orthodox Faith, Solzhenitsyn stood unwaveringly for truth. Following his example and heeding the demands of my Christian conscience, I cannot be silent in the face of recent statements by the GOA and Metropolitan Isaiah.

Our church officials are not telling the truth about the Nicholas Katinas lawsuit.

I am a parishioner at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas Texas. I have talked personally to church officials, local witnesses, and victims both before and after the recent lawsuit alleging sexual abuse by (former) priest Nicholas Katinas. I am intimately aware of the details of this case.

A GOA press release (Oct. 30, “Archdiocese Settles Dallas Lawsuit” ) claims “The Archdiocese and Holy Trinity Church had no knowledge of Mr. Katinas’ wrongdoing prior to a complaint made to the Archdiocesan Chancellor’s Office in late 2005.”

Nonsense.

A letter from Metropolitan Isaiah (Dec. 3, Protocol 08–27, sent to all parishes in his metropolis) says the accusations of a cover-up were false, the media lied, and to this day Metropolitan Isaiah has “no knowledge whatsoever of what the Archdiocese knows regarding Nicholas Katinas.”

This is simply not credible.

Despite the untold millions the Archdiocese paid to prevent a public trial, many records were already released. Eye-witnesses (who have nothing personally to gain by speaking out) gave sworn testimonies in the legal pleadings in the Katinas case that a report was made to church officials around 1977. After reports of sexual assaults in the Olympia Fields parish, a parish council member in the late 1970s advised the GOA that Katinas “should be kept away from boys” and to get Katinas out of their church. Unfortunately, church officials transferred Katinas instead of defrocking him.

Then in 1987, Fr. Nicholas Triantafilou, Vicar General for the Archdiocese, in his official capacity investigated Katinas after parents reported misconduct against their child. In the legal pleadings no fewer than five witnesses — including Triantafilou himself — testified this investigation took place (visit Pokrov.org and search on “Katinas” for full documentation).

Texas law in the 1980’s (Chapter 261 of the Texas Family Code) made it mandatory for Vicar General Triantafilou to report the abuse claim to the authorities. He did not. Had he followed the law — or even common sense — he could have prevented the dozens of sexually abusive crimes against children which Katinas perpetrated in the wake of this Archdiocese cover-up.

The Archdiocese should not mislead us saying they didn’t know until 2005 of Katinas’ sexually abusive tendencies. They knew in 1977 when they transferred him to Dallas. They knew in 1987 when Doe IV’s father made a report. Yet they left Katinas in a position to abuse again. He did — more than once.

The GOA must retract the misleading statement in its Oct. 30 press release. Church leaders must publicly rebuke Metropolitan Isaiah for his untrue and hurtful statements. The Archdiocese must admit the truth of what has happened, apologize, and act to reform our dangerous culture of clergy abuse and cover-up.

I called Tahira Khan-Merritt, the plaintiffs’ attorney in the recently settled Katinas lawsuit. She has no objection to the release of depositions of church officials if the GOA agrees to their public dissemination (the only condition that names and personally identifiable information of victims and non-clergy witnesses be redacted).

Metropolitan Isaiah states he wishes the Katinas case had gone to trial so he could be vindicated. It is in Metropolitan Isaiah’s power to release his deposition as well as that of Fr. Christopher Constantinides. The GOA can follow suit and release the sworn statements of Fr. Nicholas Triantafilou, Fr. Michael Kontogiorgis, Bishop Savas, and all other church leaders deposed.

If there is nothing to hide, there should be no problem in releasing these documents.

Somehow, I think my request will be answered with silence.

This silence, and the untruthful information being released by the GOA and Metropolitan Isaiah, should give all Orthodox Christians pause.

May we all, as God commands, live not by lies.

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[Note: This article was published in The National Herald’s print edition, Pokrov.org, OrthodoxNews.org, OCL.org, BishopAccountability.org and elsewhere in January, 2009]