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A Compendium of Crimes and Criminals of the Eastern Orthodox Church — Part 3

2022-12-13

Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/01/29

I doubt this is comprehensive, nor is it representative of the positives of the church either; it is reportage on the reports from the news. I didn’t see a compendium, so decided to write one. Part 1 and 2.

Former St. George Greek Orthodox Church treasurer Constantine D. Christodoulou sought bankruptcy protection after stealing $415,950 from the church coffers, only becoming caught by the public. He wants, as of October, 2017, protection from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Knoxville.

The church forgave him, apparently, but the state prosecuted him (Satterfield, 2017). His wife filed for bankruptcy too. Not the only case of this in North America, there exists the “Greek church civil war now raging in Toronto,” Canada, with the ‘stealing of donations for a sick baby, the appointment of known sex abusers and skimming money earmarked for the poor…’ (Mandel, 2017).

A baby, Alexander Karanikas, needed $100,000 for a trip hope for lifesaving heart surgery at Sick Kids. The laity, the ordinary Greek-Canadian community — as per usual with the community being beneficent, fair, and just — raised thousands of dollars “after the fundraiser was announced by the archbishop (“the Metropolitan”) of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada),” but most of the money never went to the family.

Only $1,450 of the $50,000 raised went to the family. In alignment with this ‘mismanagement,’ the archbishop Sotirios Athanassoulas, church women’s auxiliary, four priests, and the Father Philip Philippou misappropriated funds intended for the “sick, homeless and poor” (Ibid.). Known sex abusers, according to the lawsuit listed in the article, were installed with the Greek Community of Toronto (GCT).

Demetre Tsevlikoes was placed at St. Irene Chrisovalantou. He was a known sexual predator and pedophile. Mandel said, “The lawsuit contends the Metropolis installed known sex abusers in GCT former Bishop Georgije Djokic was invited by the Metropolitan to conduct mass in 2016 yet was defrocked for ‘allegations of indecent sexual behaviour.’”

This lawsuit also alleged that the Metropolis and priests used hundreds of thousands of dollars that the GCT fundraised, monies gathered through tithing in a collection plate in the pews. The finances were intended for the “disabled, widowed and orphaned, Sunday schools, food banks and physical upkeep of the churches,” and were used “unlawfully.”

Verbal abuse and physical assault were common with the GCT. Allegedly, Father Vitouladitis was the pepetrator, often against the Women’s Auxiliary at St. Irene Chrisovalantou Greek Orthodox church.

The lawsuit directly claims, “The Metropolitan, the Metropolis, the priests and the Women’s Auxiliary were at all times aided and abetted in the fraud by each other, their respective family members, the other Defendants and persons unknown” (Ibid.).

The Russian Orthodox Church merged its purposes in service of an ex-KGB autocrat in charge of an oligarchic elite — and they shall not be questioned, as noted by Human Rights Watch’s Yulia Gorbunova and Anastasia Ovsyannikova in November 18 of 2016.

A criminal investigation was set against local residents in Moscow because of “insulting religious feelings” (Gorbunova & Ovsyannikova, 2016). Activists took to Torfyanka park as well. How did this begin in Moscow’s Torfyanka park?

They state, “The story starts in 2013, when the Russian Orthodox Church got approval to build a church in Moscow’s Torfyanka park and quickly built a temporary shed and installed a large cross. Soon, the church was running weekly, open-air Sunday services.”

The church members asserted the park visitors created noise and children playing interrupted with the prayer. The religious and environmental activists clashed. People held signs in protests. Come 2015, the local authorities compromised with a plot set outside the park to have the church built there.

The church did not want to leave the park. Things got tense. The Russian Orthodox Church, in the service of the ruling elites, have a reciprocal relationship with the Putin regime. In that light, “Early the morning of Monday, November 14, (2015) masked and armed riot police units came to the activists’ homes.” Gorbunova and Ovsyannikova said, “Police smashed the door of one apartment and cut through the lock of another’s front door. One activist said at least 15 armed policemen came to arrest him. They threw him on the floor, handcuffed him in front of his children, and took him away.”

The pro-Kremlin television referred to the activists as “members of a cell,” “neo-pagans” in the possession of “ammunition and psychotropic drugs.” The Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill called the protesters “pagans” and “cultists.” Same term in one and similar tone overall — religion and government aligned in investment in oppression of the public, assaults on laity freedom.

The criminal case that the activists had to answer questions about in a police station were about “insulting religious feelings,” whereupon the police confiscated computers and phones from the activists’ apartments. As noted by the Human Rights Watch writers (2016):

The ties between the Russian state and the orthodox church run deep. The government extensively relies on the Church for endorsement and support, and the Church receives the government’s generous financial backing. The disturbing lack of separation between the two has led to public criticism, corruption allegations, and protests. In 2013, following the infamous Pussy Riot trial, which ended with band members’ conviction for “hooliganism,” the Russian parliament pushed through a law making it a crime to offend someone’s religious feelings.

So it goes.

References

Gorbunova, Y. & Ovsyannikova, A. (2016, November 18). In Russia, Thou Shalt not Disagree With the Orthodox Church. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/11/18/russia-thou-shalt-not-disagree-orthodox-church.

Mandel, M. (2017, December 14). MANDEL: Greek Community of Toronto lawsuit claims unholy pilfering by Greek Orthodox church. Retrieved from http://torontosun.com/news/local-news/mandel-greek-community-of-toronto-lawsuit-claims-unholy-pilfering-by-greek-orthodoxchurch.

Satterfield, J. (2017, October 19). Greek church treasurer who stole $415K has filed for bankruptcy. Retrieved from https://www.knoxnews.com/story/news/crime/2017/10/19/church-treasurer-who-stole-415-k-has-filed-backruptcy/776458001/.

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.in-sightpublishing.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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