Paisios in Greece while Church Debates Fate
BOSTON – The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has decided to send to the United States a three member Patriarchal Exarchy team of official representatives headed by Metropolitan Nikitas of Dardanelia, Archimandrite Petros Abbot of the Monastery of St. Dionysios of Mt. Athos and Archimandrite Kyrillos of the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner (Podromos) of Essex England to investigate the matters at the St. Irene Chrysovalantou Patriarchal Monastery in Astoria, New York and its dependencies. The Exarchy is expected to arrive in New York on Nov. 6. The National Herald reported in last week’s edition that the Abbot of the Chrysovalantou Monastery, Metropolitan Paisios of Tyana submitted his resignation to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew on Oct. 1 and also Oct. 5 for “health” reasons, but The National Herald has learned it really involves alleged improper relations with young adult male and female parishioners at St. Irene’s Church.
The Greek language sister publication of TNH, Ethnikos Kirix, revealed on Oct. 30, also posted on the website of the English edition of TNH, that Federal and local authorities in New York have received public complaints against Metropolitan Paisios. TNH has learned that these allegations, made to the FBI’s central New York office in Manhattan and the local 114th Police precinct in Astoria, involve serious charges, which if proven true may subject Paisios to criminal prosecution. At least one of the accusers who testified to the authorities has lived for years at the St. Irene Chrysovalantou Patriarchal and Stravropegial Monastery, where Metropolitan Paisios was the Abbot, and claims to hold great knowledge of the events in question. TNH contacted one of the persons who filed claims with the FBI and the police in Astoria, N.Y. who said, “I gave an account of everything,” after claiming to be an eyewitnesses to several events and situations. This individual did not want to go into details to ensure that “the investigation would not be compromised,” and spoke to TNH under the condition of anonymity, for the time being.
This latest turn of events came to the attention of Metropolitan Paisios, and according to observations made by people who are aware of the events this appears to be one of the primary reasons that led him to submit his resignation.
Both hierarchs Paisios and Vikentios were summoned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate to provide explanations. On Nov. 1 Metropolitan Paisios and Bishop Vikentios of Apameia appeared before the Committee for the Patriarchal Institutions in Constantinople, chaired by Metropolitan Athanasios of Chalcedon and including Metropolitan Iakovos of the Pringiponisos, Metropolitan Demetrios of Sevasteia, and Metropolitan Meliton of Philadelphia as members.
The Patriarchal Committee on Institutions heard them separately. TNH has learned that Paisios and Vikentios accused each other regarding issues related to the administration of the Monastery and its Dependencies. The Committee requested that they put their positions ands statements in writing, which they did, and their reports were presented to the Holy Synod on Nov. 3. The Synod went into session on the Chrysovalantou Monastery issue at 2 p.m. and met for five hours but no decision was reached. The Holy Synod, which is chaired by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, includes the following hierarchs as members: Athanasios of Chalcedon, Germanos of Theodoroupoulis, Germanos of Tranoupolis, Kyrillos of Imvros and Tenedos, Theoleptos of Iconium, Apostolos of Moschonision, Panteleimon of Tyroloi and Serention, Nicholas of Detroit, Tarasios of Buenos Aires, Andreas of Arkalochorion, Kastellion, and Viannon, Polycarpos of Spain and Portugal, and Nathanael of Kos and Nisyros.
The complaints with the FBI were filed over the summer, while the complaint to the 114th precinct in Astoria was made recently, when news broke of Metropolitan Paisios’ resignation and his ensuing decision to leave permanently for Greece. Metropolitan Paisios had cited “health reasons” and his “protest” over the fact that his associate Bishop Vikentios of Apameia criticized him in an interview with TNH and distanced himself from the Metropolitan’s handling of administrative matters in the Monastery’s Dependency in Florida, where a split occurred. The same source alleges that the cases being investigated by the FBI and the Police involve young adult males and females who have been parishioners at St. Irene’s since childhood, had Metropolitan Paisios as their confessor, and enjoyed close relations with the Monastery. Members of the St. Irene’s Monastic Community who joined Paisios’ order ever since they were children are also said to be involved.
TNH contacted the Office of St. Irene Chrysovalantou in Astoria, and spoke with the Monastery’s Chief Secretary Dr. John Kotsaridis, who stated that “Metropolitan Paisios is in Greece,” and agreed to pass along TNH’s message to him. Metropolitan Paisios did not return TNH’s phone call. In a statement to TNH, Deputy Abbot Bishop Vikentios said that, “The matter is personal and it concerns the Abbot. I have no comment.”
TNH has also learned that the individuals who filed claims with the authorities have also informed the Ecumenical Patriarchate in great detail. There are intense discussions in the Phanar and reports that a major scandal is about to break. There are also reports that Sister Christonymphi, one of the younger nuns in the Monastery, is planning to resign as director of the Kindergarten, and will proceed to leave the Monastery altogether soon.