Wednesday, July 22. 2009
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Alcoholism is sad. It's hard to read this report. I probably shouldn't have looked at it.
On a personal level, I really hope and pray that +DEMETRI has been able to stay sober. The Lord forgives and heals, and it is my prayer that +DEMETRI is accepting the forgiveness and healing that is offered through The Church.
On a legal level, I don't think that he should have to register as a sex offender alongside paedophiles and serial rapists. But, the law is the law, I suppose.
On an ecclesiastical level, the alcoholism alone is enough to disqualify him from holy orders. I'm no canon lawyer, so please correct me if I'm wrong, but the alcoholism, assault, gambling, fondling, and arrest should be more than enough to have him permanantly defrocked.
As an aside: if a bishop is deposed, do you still call him Bishop +CAPSLOCK? Are they like U.S. senators and presidents, who retain the title even when they no longer serve? Just curious.
#1 recovering alcoholic on 2009-07-22 17:01
I'm no fan of +Demitri but in fairness to him after reading the police report there are several discrepancies. The witness says that he opened his pants. Wouldn't this have been corroborated with a casino video camera? There is nothing in the report that corroborates this. It says that the victim walked away but came back. If she thought he was such an incredible creep who is opening up his pants, why on earth would you go and sit next to him again? It must have been one heck of a good video poker machine. I dont' know about you but when I meet a creep I actually walk away. I don't sit and speak to them, walk away, and then come back again.
It says that he put his arm on her. Have you ever met someone from the middle east that doesn't touch or jesture? Clearly he was drunk as a skunk and this was grossly unbecoming a bishop. But isn't at all possible that in his drunken stupor his hand slipped a little? Geez!
As Fr. Paul Tarazi used to say in our seminary classes, "Were you there with the camera?" Since we don't have the casino's video tape I don't think any of us will know the whole story, but reading the official report actually makes see that there may indeed have been another side of the story. And if the officer looked at the video and determined that +Demitri, indeed, was grabbing himself and the woman's breast I retract my statements here.
Once again, I am not a fan of +Demitri for several reasons and he deserved to be suspended but in this person's eyes it looks like he got taken to the cleaners a bit. It looks like the witnesses embellished their stories and he was probably too embarassed by the whole thing to actually want to put on much, if any, defense.
(editor's note: The policeman arrested the Bishop only after viewing the tape. The only reasonable conclusion is that he felt the Bishop's hand did more than "slip" - unless, of course, you would like to argue it is customary for casino's to encourage police to arrest men who are drunk in their establishments? The Bishop deserves our compassion and assistance in his recovery - but not our excuses.)
#2 No fan of +Demitri on 2009-07-22 17:18
I would suggest you also remove the victim's birthdate from the form.
#3 Philippa Alan on 2009-07-22 17:47
"If she thought he was such an incredible creep who is opening up his pants, why on earth would you go and sit next to him again? It must have been one heck of a good video poker machine. I dont' know about you but when I meet a creep I actually walk away. I don't sit and speak to them, walk away, and then come back again. "
Do you realized that you just BLAMED the victim for the list of the bishop's obscenities?
If you are in a counseling position in our church, STOP counseling now, please.
#4 worried/offended female on 2009-07-22 18:18
The four Gosepls vary as being four winesses to the same things. Will you throw them out as well?
(Editor's note: Nice try. But I think even Matthew, Mark, Luke and John could agree on whether a vote was taken, or not.)
#5 anon on 2009-07-22 18:31
Honestly, it is shocking to read the report and shocking to read comments that attempt to explain away the report. Apparently, there is all too much of a culture of compartmentalization of personality and of truth present in the archdiocese. There needs to be some housecleaning because the essential trust between the people and the hierarchy is damaged. Do we want it to be like it was after the child molestation cases in the Roman Catholic church here in America when people saw the Roman collar and thought "child molester"? I hope not.
#6 Monologistos on 2009-07-22 19:04
Please forgive me for putting my comments (worried/offended female on 2009-07-22 18:18) in the wrong place. Would you kindly put my statement under No fan of
+Demitri on 2009-07-22 17:18
Thank you very much for all your work to help our church.
#7 worried/offended female on 2009-07-22 19:13
#8 A Fellow Orthodox Christian on 2009-07-22 19:33
I understand that +Demitri is working on an English translation of an Arabic Typicon. I am looking forward to its publication. I would be quite happy for the Archdiocese to be supporting a retired bishop engaged in scholarly work which will be of benefit to the faithful. Indeed, under the circumstances, doing that sort of work in a secluded (ideally monastic) setting would be a lovely way for +Demitri to bring forth fruits worthy of repentance. Returning to active ministry as a bishop is not.
Of course, I would be much happier with +Demitri receiving continued financial support from the Archdiocese if a goodly portion of the income on the newly revealed endowment was being used to fund decent pensions for our retired priests and their *widows*. (I seem to recall some condemnation of folks who 'devour the living of widows' somewhere in the Scriptures.)
#9 Subdeacon David [Yetter] on 2009-07-22 20:35
A bishop who is intoxicated
in a Casino
Fondling a woman
Unzips his pants in a public place
makes lewd remarks
fondles a second woman
then uses vulgar language at a Police Officer.
Blames him for messing up his f ----ing life
Should not be considered a SEX OFFENDER?
MP wanted him re-instated?
Does he want to be Archdiocese to be sued?
Yes, there is forgiveness, but there are also impediments.
There is also LIABILITY, CIVIL and LEGAL.
#10 anon on 2009-07-22 22:13
My comment was in regard to # 2, where the person questions variations in the report from one person to another.
That is why I referred to the Four Gospels having variations. Each writer emphasized something different.
Just becaus the officer did not comment on the unzipped pats does not mean he did not see it.
Perhaps the camera angle did not pick it up. The camera may not have picked up the lewd remarks made by Demetri, does that mean it did not happen?
Of course not.
The Tarazi does not fly with me as he is not exactly the canon of Faith either.
Obviously, there was enough in the video that when MP saw it he encourgaed BD to ask for retirement.
When BD saw the video rather than face greater charges he made a PLEA BARGAIN and pleaded guilty to a LESSER FELONY CHARGE. A FELONY OFFENSE AT THAT.
The question remains as to why MP now openly LIES to the clergy about what happened when HE SAW THE VIDEO HIMSELF.
He ENCOURAGED DEMETRI to ask for retirement.
Does he simply want to change the balance of VOTES on the LOCAL SYNOD by having someone else who owes him?
MP wants to surround himself with those who are compromised as then then can count on them to do as they are told.
Just like the former EOC that he accuses of being ungrateful.
Why ungrateful? Because MP took them in?
Is that not precisely what a church should do?
#11 anon on 2009-07-22 22:27
The millions held by the Archdiocese should be directed to a fully vested PENSION PLAN for our beloved clergy.
Secondly, our Bishops should have a full time Deacon who is a devout servant to assist them and protect them from compromising situations.
It is time to cut the Englewood budget and bring the monies back to the Dioceses.
Let us care for those who care for us.
Philip has betrayed us!
He has hidden money from us!
A full and independent audit of the Archdiocese
PLUS a FULL and INDEPENDENT AUDIT of MP ACCOUNTS must be done. All HIS HOLDINGS are ARCHDIOCESAN PROPERTY ACCORDING TO THE CONSTITUTION OF THE PATRIARCHATE OF ANTIOCH and ACCORDING TO HIM IDENTIFYING HIMSELF AS CORPORATE SOLE WITH TAX EXEMPT STATUS.
WHY DOES HE CONTINUE TO DEMAND MONEY FROM THE ANTIOCHIAN WOMEN WHEN HE HAS MORE THAN ENOUGH TO MEET THE NEEDS OF OUR CLERGY.
#12 anonymous on 2009-07-23 06:42
I am disturbed and ashamed reading that report. That any orthodox person much less a bishop should do that is both disturbing and disheartening.
Demetri Khouri should have been defrocked. Period. His retirement was a fig leaf that should only have been allowed to stand as long as he stayed retired.
+Ignatius notwithstanding, I suspect he has bad information on Demetri that he should be asking to have him more active. Perhaps the tape should be sent to +Ignatius for his edification.
This makes me want to puke.
Hmmm … let’s see … the holy bishop (not to mention monk) was out at a casino, gambling and drinking to the point of intoxication; he was verbally rude, physically aggressive, and sexually inappropriate. Having been arrested for sexual assault, he attempted to use the “prestige and power” of his office to escape the charge and, failing that, he resorted to profanity and consigned not only the arresting officer, but also his entire family, to Hell. Did I miss anything? What IS the matter with you people? You can’t think this was +Demetri’s fault! You must see that if he had had better representation all of this would have just gone away. Where was +Philip and his minions when they were really needed? Was the money that might have gotten him a better lawyer just newly laundered and still hanging up to dry? Surely, the Self-Ruled Archdiocese’s Department of Duplicitous Documents could have forged something a little more palatable to good Christian sensibilities than that nasty police report! On the other hand, perhaps a threatening email from a well-placed Trustee to the victim might have gotten her to drop the charge altogether. Tsk tsk tsk. Incompetence everywhere! The Met really must look into that.
#14 Phelonchik on 2009-07-23 08:09
please reread my post. I think you may have misunderstood my point. Please forgive me if i was unclear.
#15 recovering alcoholic on 2009-07-23 11:11
Mark, I see you posted a link to Bishop Demetri police report.
Can you also post Bishop Benjamin (Peterson) DUI arrest report?
Why have you stopped reporting on the OCA?
Just because the Antiochians are having problems (and I pray for them), does not make our own OCA problems go away!
What happened to the Brum/Kondratick/Fester cabal? All still in place with salaries? Are we now happy with the OCA status quo? Is Nicholai still a bishop?
Granted all jurisdictions must correct their problems, but the OCA is left out lately, and I am afraid these corrupt power mongers are getting away with it. Some even with your protection by "looking the other way". You know by omission.
Let's get back to basics, shall we?
(Editor's note: The only reason Bishop Demetri's report was posted is that Metropolitan Philip asserted, in public, that +Demetri did nothing more than touch a woman's back. The report, shows that he misspoke - again. Bishop Benjamin, to his credit, has never denied his problem with alcohol, and his work at recovery. Publishing his report adds nothing.
I have not stopped reporting on the OCA - only when your neighbors house - your brother's house in this case - is on fire, it behooves one to stop rebuilding yours and help them put out the fire. Feel free to disagree. And as evidence that we are rebuilding, and they are on fire, I suggest you read the opening pages of the AUDIT REPORT distributed to their delegates today. I was very proud to see that the OCA is now being cited as a model to emulate, not a scandal to be avoided. Thanks are due to many members of the MC, Synod and Staff at Syosset, scores of activists and thousands of clergy and laity, for making that change possible, and the example credible.
Are all the scandals and their after effects over at the OCA? No. But I am only one person, unpaid, with 24 hours in the day. I simply cannot do more, friend. So I ask your indulgence for the choices I am making. I shall be back to the OCA full time in the near future. Promise.)
#16 Still remembers... on 2009-07-23 11:40
Mark, I see your point. And I think you need an army to cover all these things. It is amazing what you have accomplished by yourself.
Clarification: you give credit to Benjamin for not denying the DUI. Unfortunately, the fact is that he only admitted the DUI once he got caught. The damage was done because *Benjamin kept the DUI hidden in order to fool the synod into ordaining him as auxiliary*. At that point he should have been deposed. That the synod installed an "ongoing" alcoholic as a diocesan bishop is a grave mistake. What will MADD say about a *DUI bishop*: someone who drives around a lot the Western US. Reckless!
If Benjamin was honest with himself he will voluntarily retired and confined himself to a monastery to work out his alcoholism.
And you are right, this is not the only problem as your news demonstrate. There are so many other things to be fixed. We must not stop praying for our beloved Church in America.
Keep up the good work.
(editor's note: I don't think anyone on the Synod was "fooled". Nor is it necessary with everyone with a disease to confine themselves to a monastery - nor does the Bishop drive himself all over the Western US. He flies most places, as far as I know. But your concern is noted - and it is up to the Synod to make sure +Benjamin, like all clergy with this problem - is being held accountable. )
#17 Still remembers... on 2009-07-23 13:35
The standard used for the disposition of Bp. Demetri's case should be the same one that applies, and is applied, equally to any clergy of the Antiochian Archdiocese who has violated the rules/policies/procedures regarding sexual misconduct. Nothing more, but certainly nothing less.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
I think that if you spoke with the faithful in the Diocese of the West, you would find overwhelming consensus that Bishop Benjamin is a kind and good shepherd to us. Yes, he has struggled with alcoholism, as have I, but to this recovering drunk he looks like a man with some serious recovery going on. I am grateful to be able to call him my bishop, especially when recalling whom he replaced. Many years, Your Grace!
#19 Scott Walker on 2009-07-23 15:21
Thank you for the clarification. I did reread the report and it does say that the police office reviewed the videotape. I was not there and we have to rely upon the police. My personal read of the situation is that +Demitri was drunk as a skunk and screaming profanities and telling the officer he was going to hell certainly didn't win him any points. It's interesting to note that +Demitri's friend was not interviewed in the report.
To the woman who posted and was offended by my remarks, I apologize for offending you. I did not, however, state and I did not intend to incinuate that the woman who played the slot machine next to +Demitri was at fault. I do believe that the report is, however, a bit embellished. Everything in a casino is being watched by the cameras above. It's hard to believe that if +Demitri was acting in the lewd manner described in the report that the security guards or someone from the casino wouldn't have stepped in sooner.
#20 No fan of +Demitri on 2009-07-23 16:59
with all due respect, Father, be careful what you recommend for Demetri. Seems to me Joseph Allen got away with a lot more than is healthy for the Archdiocese. Surely, a bishop, being much more visible than any one clergyman, might be held to even higher standards? Is he not even more so an Icon of Christ?
#21 pelagia on 2009-07-23 17:55
If I remember correctly, the Archdiocese has a policy for clergy involved in situations of sexual impropriety and as I recall it is quite strict.
My comments were about enforcing the rules consistently. If there is no possibility of reinstatement that should be the rule for everyone, including Bishops, and if there is reinstatement for some there should be the possibility for others. There shouldn't be special rules or exceptions for certain people. The veracity of the system, and the respect people have for it, depends on fairness and consistency.
My guess is that a Priest or Deacon who pled guilty to either a misdemeanor or felony sex charge would probably not be restored to their position regardless of how they had proceeded with rehabilitation and recovery and if that is the case then that standard should be applied to Bishops as well.
Fr John Chagnon
St. Elias Orthodox Church
Well, maybe Bishop Demtri has struggled too... Maybe he will pose as "a kind and good shepherd"... Maybe, like Benjamin, Demetri has a "disease" ... Its there a double standard?
If you overlook the "scandal" that Benjamin brings to the Church why not also overlook Demetri's scandal?
Mind you I do not believe in double standards. In fact, had a priest pulled what Benjamin did, *hiding a DUI arrest in order to be ordained as an auxiliary bishop*, the priest would have been thrown out and defrocked. Same if a priest had done what Demetri did. But "some" of these so called bishops use priest as examples while they get away with murder. Whitewashing their records in the blood of priest to whom they fail to show any compassion, yet they ask for so much compassion for themselves. Feeding the bones to the fans and personal worshippers, who praise them for been righteous, kind and good.
If you think Demetri should be removed, should not the same standard be applied to Benjamin? It is a real ethical question.
Claiming that is up to the OCA synod to hold Benjamin accountable... the same synod that allows Nicholai to continue as a "bishop" and Kondratic in the payroll in Venice? Ha!
The MADD issue and drunk driven: Benjamin to this day drives around, and when he flies he often rents a car at the destination, so give me a break! And since he has an "ongoing disease" he is still a danger to the public.
I think in the OCA we are expecting more of our Antiochian brothers than we expect of ourselves. Lets clean our house first, before getting 'preachy' with our brothers. Maybe this is why to many in other Orthodox jurisdictions we(OCA) came across as arrogant and "holier than thou". Stop Phariseeism! Lets clean house in the OCA now!
(Editor's note: One is a registered sexual offender for whom SCOBA, not OCA rules, apply. To quote from the 2005 Statement on Sexual Misconduct:
We commit ourselves to the healing of parishes wounded by clergy sexual misconduct. When a clergyman acts inappropriately, he inflicts harm not only on his victim but also his own family, the victim’s family and other members of the community. We will give the best possible support to all those traumatized by such misconduct.
The spiritual needs of the offending clergyman must also be addressed. The Church will not turn her back on these former clerics, if they repent of their destructive behavior and receive forgiveness, even though they can no longer serve as clergy or in other positions of authority. While energetically protecting victims, the Church will work for the healing and salvation of all who are affected."
There is no such statement regarding alcoholism. Perhaps you should address the hierarchs about it.
I do not agree with double standards, nor am I advocating any. I simply believe enforcing the standards where they exist is the best way to raise them. )
#23 Still remembers... on 2009-07-24 12:56
Maybe you forgot, but Bishop Benjamin was in charge of the special investigative committee that called the then-Metropolitan and his predecessor thieves, and recommended that they be disciplined by the synod. This was WHILE Met Herman was still in office.
To me that says that Bp Benjamin is not a dishonest bishop. In fact, to me he seems like a man of integrity and fearlessness in the face of intimidation. (In other words, someone that poor AOANA could really use right now.) What proof do you have that he intentionally misled the Synod about his sickness or arrest? What about his sickness or arrest makes him unfit to be a bishop? Surely he's not the first Orthodox bishop to have run afoul of the law, and probably not the first alcoholic either.
I've only met Bp Benjamin once, but he was extremely kind and good-natured, and dare I say it, +Jonah-esque. Before +Jonah was considered a viable candidate for Metropolitan, it was my fond hope that +Benjamin might be selected (since +Job very clearly didn't want the job in a way that was more than modesty). I think DoW has a fine bishop in Bp Benjamin, and may God grant him many years!
#24 Cordelia on 2009-07-24 14:12
Are bishops above the Apostolic rules?
The Holy Apostle Saint Paul wrote on his epistle to Titus(1:7-9):
"For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict."
Is Benjamin given to wine? You know because of his disease. Are these two bishops "blameless"? How about "sober-minded"?
Regardless of OCA rules (which are not meant to supplant at large the Apostolic Canon), Bejamin brought "scandal" to the Church with the DUI arrest, plus obtained an ordination under false pretenses. The Holy Apostle wrote to Timothy(1:7):
"Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."
Do registered sexual offenders and DUI arrestees give "good testimony among those who are outside"?
Nowadays, I guess, it is all optional, depending on who supports you. So I guess both of them can hide behind SCOBA and/or OCA loopholes then, as we disregard the Apostolic foundation of Orthodoxy. But perhaps the faithful know better!
I do not know what the outcome would be for Demtri, but I find it hypocritical for us to overlook the glass house of the bishop in the West in our own OCA, while we throw stones at Demetri in the Antiochian Archdiocese.
I am sorry Mark, I usually agree with you, but I think this time it seems you are engaging in a double standard. I don't think on purpose, but in principle. I don't want to argue with you, and I know you have a lot in your plate and you have done great work for the OCA and I commend you for it. So we will have to agree to disagree friend. Keep up the good work!
#25 Still remembers... on 2009-07-24 14:56
"As an aside: if a bishop is deposed, do you still call him Bishop +CAPSLOCK? Are they like U.S. senators and presidents, who retain the title even when they no longer serve? Just curious."
To answer your question, if a clergyman is deposed (whether deacon, presbyter, or bishop), the titles usually attached to his former rank are no longer applied to him.
As for the "Bishop +CAPSLOCK" matter, it should be noted that this is solely a printing convention. Or, more accurately, it is the hybrid of three different conventions that is very often improperly used on the internet.
1) Setting a bishop's name in caps is a printing convention often shown in books that have a bishop's blessing to be printed. One will see on the reverse of a title page a notice that reads like this, for example:
"To the glory of the holy, consubstantial, life-giving and undivided Trinity, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit: with the blessing of the Most Holy Patriarch of Moscow and All Rus, ALEXY*, this book, the Chasoslov, was printed in the city of Moscow in the Year of Our Lord 2002."
2) Such capitalization is also used when a Bishop authors a foreword or preface and his name appears at the end like a signature; there you will find something like "*Bishop KYRILL*." This, too, is solely a printing convention. In books printed in Europe, you will often find the last name of the author of a foreword or preface similarly capitalized.
3) The cross (*+) before a Bishop's name is solely a signature convention. That is, when a Bishop signs his own name, he may (or may not!) put a cross before his name.
Which is to say that the "Bishop +CAPLOCKS" model is a hodge-podge of styles that is better laid to rest. It is much easier, and far more correct, to write simply "Bishop George", "Metropolitan Jonah", or "Patriarch Daniel".
#26 ejv on 2009-07-25 07:48
I understand that Met. Philip has comapred the woes of Bp. Demetri to the repentant life of St. Mary of Egypt. While I certainly wonder about the appropiateness of comparing those two, I would nonetheless be curious as to whether His Grace might be open to living out his days naked and wandering in the desert?
#27 Kevin Kirwan on 2009-07-25 10:27
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