HOCNA-Toronto: Fr Panteleimon Guilty of Moral Indiscretions (Updating)

Editorial: The 1000 years that lead to Vatican II
September 20, 2012
Updated: GOC-Kallinikos: Bp Demetrius (Kyriakou) received as Bishop of Boston
September 20, 2012

HOCNA-Toronto: Fr Panteleimon Guilty of Moral Indiscretions (Updating)

For a full timeline of the changes in HOCNA leading to these events, click here.

We are still waiting for official confirmation from the HOCNA Metropolis of Toronto as to the veracity of a purported letter from the board of St Nicholas Cathedral, but a timestamp on the letter that was produced in the comments section 8 hours ago and the relative silence which we have received in response to the questions we have been asking for approximately a day seem to indicate the letter below is genuine.

The letter below–if it is in fact an official letter of the diocese– confirms that Fr Panteleimon is guilty of moral transgressions, the claim of which was the root of the ROCOR’s case against the HOCNA in 1986, as well as the root of the 1995 schism with Archbishop Maximus of Athens, who called for reopening the 1985 investigation against HOCNA.  It also lends credence to the testimony of over a dozen monks who have left HTM over the years, some of whom have left Orthodoxy altogether.

Perhaps the facts of the case are not productive to individual ecclesiastical agendas. Maybe HOCNA will not confirm it because they are afraid they will lose more people. Maybe now they realize this will in fact collapse HOCNA once and for all. They would be justified in such a belief at this point. Maybe on the other side, certain people are only “privately” confirming the facts concerning Fr Panteleimon’s guilt to increase the effectiveness of the move from one side of the ecclesiastical fence to another.  From my perspective, such silence concerning a matter that has affected the True Orthodox public for 28 years to shock a few more members into one or another direction is reprehensible.

It is not our place to accuse either side or hypothesize. It is our job to publish, and– much to everyone’s chagrin– ask later. In any case, we can no longer wait, as this is now public on our site, to not publish the letter, and ask for official confirmation once and for all.

If this letter is true, may the guilty find peace in repentance and the innocent find peace in the truth of our Orthodox Faith, which can be sullied by no man.

The letter reads as follows.

Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2012 21:31:23 -0400
From: communications@homt.ca
Subject: UPDATE from the Board of St Nicholas Cathedral

This past Sunday, September 16/3, we held a special parish meeting with over 150 parishioners in attendance to hear a report from Metropolitan Makarios regarding current matters of our Synod. This communique is to provide you with a summary of that meeting, and an update in our objective to keep you as informed as possible on these matters.
The Metropolitan’s report included:

1) The topic of “name-worshipping” and its impact throughout our Synod. Further research was prepared for review at the upcoming October Synaxis, however, due to continued exchanges, the Synod issued a Protocol more immediately to clarify and reduce confusion. Resolution: HOCNA Protocol 2917 has addressed this further. “We are not “name-worshippers”; therefore, we reject the false teachings ascribed to them.”

2) There is a change in leadership in our Synod; specifically, Bishop Demetrius of Carlisle has resigned from our Synod.

Resolution: On a statement from the Synod on September 11 – “…the Holy Synod has resolved to begin the process of considering the candidates for ordination to the episcopacy.”

3) It is our understanding that certain moral indiscretions have occurred by Fr. Panteleimon of Holy Transfiguration Monastery. These actions and behaviour are not acceptable and not appropriate within our Church.

Resolution: Father Panteleimon has resigned from the priesthood, is under a penance and living in solitude. He can no longer function as a priest within our Synod.
In these difficult times, it is easy to fall into temptation, draw conclusions with misinformation and then make wrongful accusations. Please try and resist this as we navigate through these matters and come to a truthful and peaceful solution, always keeping in mind our salvation, and the good of our Saint Nicholas Parish. Our Metropolitan and the Board continue to take these matters very seriously and are looking for a responsible resolution to these matters. We are extremely concerned these matters distract us from continuing to grow and cultivate the great blessing that our Lord has given us – St. Nicholas Parish. We are dedicated to keeping our Parish informed as we corroborate facts of recent events. We are in continuous communication with the Metropolitan and each other to discuss and ensure we find long-term stability and continue on our path to build our Church, grow our parish, and worship according to the traditional practices of our Orthodox Faith. As you all do, we seek the truth in these matters and for our salvation. We are also mindful, that an important truth for us at St. Nicholas Cathedral and the Metropolis of Toronto, is that our Metropolitan Makarios received his consecration as bishop with the confirmation and direct descent from Archbishop Auxentios of Athens who was present and blessed our Metropolitan on January 16/3, 1991 at St. John the Theologian Monastery in Petroupoli in broad daylight with approximately 1000 people present as he was raised to the rank of Bishop. This is at the core of our community. As a Board, we are focused on preserving this in our Parish, Diocese and Synod. We ask that you continue to pray to Our Saviour to give our Metropolitan, our Board, and Synod strength and wisdom to guide us on the true path of salvation.

Board of Saint Nicholas Cathedral

 

  • John Collis

    I believe that these revelations and issues are arising with purpose. If rumours of Fr. Panteleimon’s ill health are true, then maybe God is presenting him, and those around him, a final opportunity to truly repent. HTM has done much good work, but for their own salvation, they need to go under a credible Orthodox Authority and accept whatever penance they are given; afterwards, we have no right to judge them. Bp. Demetrius’s initiative was just, at least keeping it “in the family”. The current situation is like an arsonist throwing the last bucket of water on a fire he started; but still in charge of the firecode and preaching on fire safety. HOCNA’s position is morally bankrupt. If our love for Fr. P. is sincere, meaning for his salvation and not just preservation of his adored persona, then we must push for this too.
    We really need to keep him and those others who made bad decisions in our prayers, hoping for their full enlightenment, repentence and salvation.

    • NFTU

      I totally agree, but I think prudence demands that nothing be done in a rushed manner. HOCNA has some soul-searching to do, and that shouldn’t be done at high-speed. I’ll probably have more to say some other time. I have to get back to work.

      • faithful christian

        The official statement from the synod was that they accepted his resignation from the priesthood and his retirement so that he would live out his last days in solitude and hesychia.

        • Olek

          How about an apology from him to those that he did wrong and to those in the church who believed in him and to the church itself for the damage which has been done.

        • Ambrose

          This is the usual HOCNA spin on any and every issue that gives them a black eye. There was a synaxis at the monastery on the day that he returned from his Toronto trip. He didn’t resign and retire by choice. He was told to pack his things and never return. Official statements from HOCNA should always be taken with a handful of salt.

          • faithful christian

            I’m sure all of this can be taken with a handful of salt. No one here is spiritually gifted to know the exact accounts of Fr. P. If you read the lives of the fathers of the desert, there have been instances of immoral behaviour. But with repentance, they have been elevated to a higher level than they were before. If Father P. has openly confessed his sins, then who are we to judge him or to redicule him. Let him who is without sin, cast the first stone.

            I’m sure if we look at everyone who posts on this siite, we all have our sins. Is this Christian-like to judge someone? Is it not better to see that someone has confessed and that they can hopefully be saved. Our saviour calls all to repentance and wants nothing more than our salvation. Personally, I look at my own sins for I fear to judge others, lest I be judge the same.

          • Ambrose

            @faithful christian. I don’t have any issues with your comment. It’s a fact that this is what the Synod stated. I am also trying not to judge the man, since I suffer from my own sins. The statement from the Synod is simply not accurate. I was just making a comment on how HOCNA always spins things to appease their flock or when they are put in a difficult situation.

          • True, true. But who doesn’t. Yes, it’s sad that a synod does it, but HOCNA is not the only synod that acts just like a bunch of politicians when it comes to *saving face* in public documents. :: shrugs :: The general event was true…he resigned….how it’s painted is another thing.

  • Greta Larson

    Panteleimon is a creep and has been for a long long time, leaving many shattered lives in his wake. May this situation strengthen his victims by knowing that the TRUTH is finally coming out.
    http://pokrov.org/display.asp?ds=Article&id=241

    -Greta Larson

    • Greta, we were all his victims. This was never about Fr. Panteleimon’s “sins”, but a consistant abuse of power and clever manipulation of an entire Church body to protect him for 30 + years. Just as rape is never about sex or pleasure but raw power. Defense of this man has led to a horrible downward spiral that has culminated in the comical embrace of a dead heresy.

      May all his victims find peace. Lord have mercy.

  • Paul

    Ten clergyman of HOCNA had an official meeting three weeks ago in which Fr Isaac who is the Abbot of HTM openly told all of them that Fr Panteliemon is guilty of the charges being brought against him. Hopefully this will be more officially and accurately transcribed in a letter soon.

  • Ambrose

    @ faithful christian. This is the usual HOCNA spin on any and every issue that gives them a black eye. There was a synaxis at the monastery on the day that he returned from his Toronto trip. He didn’t resign and retire by choice. He was told to pack his things and never return. Official statements from HOCNA should always be taken with a handful of salt.

    • Anonymous

      Who would have been able to make him pack his bags and never return?

  • nephongoc

    Their many psychological issues at HOCNA!!!

  • Paul

    What we have to deal with is facts. Below what you will now read are facts. If you do not believe this then you can call any
    of the 18 clergyman who heard themselves. I myself recently made phone calls to four clergyman to verify the below facts.

    On August 25th, 2012 at St Marks there was ten clergyman, Metropolitan Ephraim, Fr Isaac, and Fr Barsanuphrius present.

    On
    Sept 1st , 2012 at the Diocese House there was 18 clergyman of whom
    some where these – 1) Fr John Fleser 2) Fr Christos 3) Fr George Kamb
    4) Fr Demetri H. 5) Fr Demetri Kukunov 6) Fr Otari 7) Fr Andrew Borada 8) Fr Andrew S. 9) Fr Vasili M. 10) Fr Christopher
    11) Fr George Liadis 12) Fr Alexander Butterbaugh
    Metropolitan Ephraim , Metropolitan Makarios, and Bishop Gregory and Fr Isaac.

    Fr Isaac told the
    following at both of the above meetings for everyone to audibly hear :
    Fr
    Isaac said “It was a cover up and the immoral charges against Fr
    Panteliemon are true” . It was reported that Fr Isaac was teary eyed
    while saying this to all those present at BOTH meetings. He then asked forgiveness from all those present.

    At
    both meetings Metro. Ephraim said there will be an investigation in
    this matter. Yet to this day they have not had an investigation
    as he promised and thus we get the letter stating that he has retired.

    • John Collis

      Fr. Panteleimon’s admission, in the face of evidence presented by Bp. Demetrios does not exonerate everyone else from responsibility, nor remove the necessity for an investigation. Important questions remain. These need to be addressed in regards to the systemic, ongoing abuse that occurred, and the uncanonical departures/schisms that had been initiated to keep him safe from censure, leading the Faithful into schism:
      1) Who else was aware of the moral indiscretions, and for how long?
      2) Why was he permitted to server Holy Communion during this time?
      3) Were these indiscretions known, and covered up when investigations/trials of Fr. Panteleimon were to be initiated?
      Please recall that Fr. Panteleimon and Fr. Isaac were both suspended by ROCOR in 1986 in preparation of a trial.
      Other details, and the nature of the moral indiscretions don’t concern us. HOCNA investigating itself is a farce – all the cops are criminals, all the sinners, saints.

  • Jason

    It is not possible that Fr. Isaac, Met Ephraim, and Met Makarios only recently learned that the accusations were true. Will they all now resign for covering up this sin for so long, for disregarding so many victims who have fallen away from the Church because of this abuse, for slandering those who dared to speak out against the abuse they personally suffered, for allowing families to be split by bitter disputes and schism, for unlawfully going into schism in order to keep Fr. Panteleimon from being held accountable for his sins, for remaining in schism for 26 years and in isolation from all other Orthodox synods in order to protect Fr. Panteleimon and those who are committed to covering his sins, for creating an illegitimate “church” where loyalty to Fr. Panteleimon and indoctrination at HTM were prerequisites for the episcopacy?

    If Fr. Isaac has admitted the cover-up as has been reported, then Glory to God. This is a good beginning. May the process of repentance continue for the sake of the health and salvation of all of the victims, perpetrators, and enablers.

  • George

    In regards to all the posts on this message board. We dont need to bother with unofficial and unconfirmed communications from random people who have their own agenda. Some people choose to not believe that Jesus is our Lord and reject Him altogether no matter what evidence is shown to them.

    In regards to HOCNA, all we need to do is look at the official communications sent out by HTM, the former Monks at HTM, Bishop Demetrius, M. Makarios, etc.

    Fr Panteleimon’s guilt was *confirmed* by the email sent out recently by St Nicholas Parish Council (Toronto), which is acting under the blessing of M. Makarios. There’s no point even debating that point. We wont even bother to Google all the other testimonials (with names) of individuals that endured Fr P’s guilt.

    We’re all sinners and suffer with our personal sins. However, Fr P through his actions successfully:

    a) Scandalized our Church,
    b) Caused unnecessary Schisms,
    c) Drove many Monks and families away from our Faith over the course of 30 years.

    Fr P. may end up becoming a Saint one day, or may not, but in the meantime the Church was left with his mess to clean up. And yes I mean the greater Church, not just HOCNA. This is a stain that we all bare.

    Not only that, he was (and continues to be to a lesser extent) protected by M. Ephraim, M. Makarios, B. Gregory, Fr Isaac, and the remaining monks at HTM. Unfortunately for them, this scandal is far too big and devastating to cover up. Sex scandals usually are.. And they’re all guilty of openly preaching heresy in regards to “Awake Sleeper” and “Name Worshipping”. Remember that in the history of our Church, the greatest heresies were spread by Patriarchs, Metropolitans and Bishops. They are *not* infallible and *must* be held accountable.

    It doesnt matter if you think these men are Holy, or Saints, or if they’re great individuals. It doesnt matter that they married you, buried your parents, baptised your children, or ordained your cousins. For the sake of their Synod (what is left of it), for the sake of their flock that they’re leading astray, and the scandalizing of the Church as a whole that they have caused, those leaders must all *immediately* resign.

    We have countless examples (ie: St Nektarios) of individuals who were removed as Metropolitans, Bishops, etc and continued to lead a Holy life. The only thing that is keeping them all in their positions at this point is pride. Please dont be blind, its over, and its time for everyone to just accept it.

    May God forgive us all.

  • Yiorgos Panayiotou

    How quickly NFTU and many of your readers are to greedily gobble up any slop about HOCNA /Father Panteleimon – like disgusting demonically possessed swine tripping over each other to get to the trough. Well, we all know what happened to the swine in the end

    • NFTU

      Oh, give me a break.

      We try our best to be objective. I personally called HTM and will do so again. Last time I did, I was told I’d get a call back. Instead, there’s some sudden turn of hate towards NFTU.

      Seriously. If you really want the other side to be shown, then I need documents. Statements. Interviews. Not this typical bumbling rhetoric.
      I still do not have confirmation personally that Fr Panteleimon is guilty. I am still giving the benefit of the doubt. But giving me the whole “the elder is holy” speech, peppered with “you’re all of the devil”, is generally the best way to make sure people don’t take you seriously.

      In Christ,
      Deacon Joseph Suaiden
      St Eulalia Orthodox Mission Chapel, Yonkers NY:
      *A Mission of the Orthodox Metropolia in North America*
      *Autonomous Orthodox Metropolia of North and South America and the British Isles*
      *
      *
      “Let these canonical rules be established by us for you, O ye bishops; and if you continue to observe them, ye shall be saved, and shall have peace; but if you be disobedient, you shall be punished, and have everlasting war one with another, and undergo a penalty suitable to your disobedience.” *–Epilogue to the Apostolic Constitutions
      *

    • Relax, Brother. We are not to judge, that goes both ways. This is a real issue, and needs to be discussed with those who are concerned about it. Pray for HTM’s salvation (all the remaining fathers).

  • Yiorgos Panayiotou

    Paul, get a life.