Fr. Basil Biberdorf, assistant rector at the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church (OCA) in State College, PA, recently launched a blog entitled “The Orthodox Leader.” Fr. Basil writes:
We have a problem in Orthodox North America. Worse than matters of theft and malfeasance, we have sexual sin among some of the clergy — fornication, adultery, homosexuality, and, dare I say it, pedophilia — that is all too often being passed over by hierarchs and church administrators. Some priests, deacons, and bishops who should be serving, caring, and interceding for their flocks are instead defiling themselves and, in some cases, ravaging the flock for their own base appetites…
Fr. Basil calls for action to stop the unrestrained sexual immorality among certain clergy:
It must stop. If we are to have any Christian integrity, if we are to demonstrate Christian leadership, if we are to show the barest shred of concern for the preaching of Christ’s Gospel, we (corporately and individually) must stop aiding and abetting evil by refusing to restrain those guilty of these offenses.
As a priest myself, I am concerned that these unchecked evils cast a shadow over all of my brethren. How many times are devoted, pious clergy having their integrity silently questioned: Is he gay? Is he faithful to his wife? Can I trust him around my children? The vast majority of my brother clergy are absolutely principled on all these points. The sorry reactions that have been given to the few transgressors, though, make it perfectly reasonable for the faithful to have these questions.
This article is a plea for our leaders in the Church — hierarchs, chancellors, deans, and officials — to restrain evil rather than simply tolerating it. Suspension from clerical duties is insufficient. If a clergyman is not faithful to his wife or his celibacy, he should be deposed. If he has molested a child or seduced an adolescent, he should be deposed. If he has responded to a penitent’s confession with a sexual advance, he should be deposed. The action should be taken quickly and publicly, not with the intent to humiliate or to deny repentance and forgiveness to the guilty, but to proclaim that Christ’s Church stands against evil in all its forms. It must be done with regard solely for the care of the injured parties and the integrity of the Church, not with any regard for the reputation of the guilty or the legal consequences that might result.
Visit The Orthodox Leader to read the entire article and follow the discussion.
To learn more about the scourge of sexual misconduct in the Orthodox Church, visit Pokrov.org.