Essays on Orthodoxy & Accountability

Should Christians Speak Against Clergy Sexual Misconduct?

Posted on September 24th, 2009

In July 2009 at the Antiochian 49th Annual Archdiocesan Convention, Metropolitan Philip spoke in defense of Bishop Demetri Matta Khoury. +Demetri is a convicted felon and registered sex offender whom the Antiochian Archdiocese continues to fund, thereby enabling him to remain in a position of trust.

In the heated discussions which have erupted on this topic, we find several fundamental questions at play:

  1. Should Christians unconditionally obey our church leaders?
  2. Should Christians remain silent when church leaders lead us astray?
  3. Should Christians judge others?
  4. Should a sex offender remain a bishop?

I will make the case that the Faithful have a moral responsibility to hold +Philip and other church leaders accountable to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse. I will also show that this issue is not an isolated incident. Beyond the issue of Bishop Demetri, there is a troubling culture in the Antiochian Church which shuffles around abusive priests and remains silent while sexual predators remain in positions of trust. Lastly, I will show that enabling a sexually abusive priest makes one just as guilty as the abuser.

First, a summary of the +Demetri controversy and +Philip’s recent response.

Harry Potter Icon Offends Many Orthodox

Posted on September 7th, 2009

[Editors note: The follow letter to the editor appeared in the eactions poured in the Sept. 6th Dallas News regarding the recent Harry Potter Icon used in an article illustration (see the full reactions here —  http://tinyurl.com/nw3382 —  regarding the Harry Potter Icon story first reported here —  http://tinyurl.com/lqv3tp.)]

The letter:

The front page of the Points section displayed a traditional Orthodox icon with the image of Christ replaced by Harry Potter.

Many who do not hold icons sacred — as the Orthodox do — may not see this as a big issue.
To the Orthodox though, this is sacrilegious and offensive in the extreme. Orthodox Christians are trained from an early age to read icons. The halo with a cross background is iconography’s way of saying: This person is God.
While the illustrator may not understand the theological ramifications of this image, educated Orthodox do.
Icons are sacred, and a sacrilegious illustration like the Harry Potter icon is — wittingly or unwittingly — a mockery of Christianity.


Stan Shinn, Wylie

Clergy Abuse: Topics Which Need Articles

Posted on April 26th, 2007

Here are some clergy abuse topics I would like to write on at some point:

  • The Crisis
    Abuse of power, sexual misconduct, and its devastating effect on the church.
  • Understanding Abuse
    Power imbalances, the tactics of a predator, and how survivors cope with abuse.
  • Coming Forward
    Victims, their families, and the role of clergy in reporting abuse.
  • Recovering From Abuse
    Finding healing and getting support.
  • Victim’s Stories
    Case studies and what we can learn from history.
  • Keeping Your Faith
    Spiritual advice for dealing with depression and combating the loss of faith.
  • Preventing Abuse
    Creating a safe environment to prevent abuse.
  • Cautions for Clergy
    Practical tips to help clergy avoid risk and dangerous situations.
  • Public Opinions
    Interviews with survivors, victim’s advocates, and those with expert opinions.
  • What Can We Do?
    How to help victims and pursue reform in a theologically sound and loving way.

What Can We Do?

Posted on August 28th, 2006

I thought this article by Fr. Thomas Hopko to be perhaps the best summary I’ve seen anywhere of how to deal with the various issues of our day…the crux of it comes in his seven points in the second half.