Canada--Keep convicted archbishop out of US churches, group begs
For immediate release: Friday, November 13, 2015
Victims want defrocked cleric supervised & kept off church payrolls
As archbishop, he was the highest ranking Orthodox cleric in Canada
But he was found guilty of abusing a young boy in his care & went to prison
He’s been demoted to “monk,” but could still be employed in local parishes
SNAP to OCA bishops: “Warn your flock about him & promise you won’t hire him”
A victims’ group is urging Orthodox officials to make sure that an ex-archbishop who was convicted of molesting a child will not ever work in a North American church again.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are writing to the synod of bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) and the head of a Canadian monastery begging them to apply the denomination’s guidelines on sex offenders to Seraphim Storheim.
SNAP believes that an accountability plan should be in place for the former archbishop both at his monastery and at any OCA parish that he visits.
From 1990 until his suspension in 2010, Storheim was the highest ranking OCA cleric in Canada. However, following his conviction for sexually assaulting a young boy under his care, the former archbishop was defrocked by his synod last month.
Storheim, now a monk who is called “Father Seraphim,” lives at The Monastery of Saint Silouan, in Spencerville [Township of Edwardsburg-Cardinal], Ontario. The facility’s website says that visitors are welcome at the monastery’s liturgical services.
Storheim has in the past been allowed to attend services not only at the monastery, but also in a small parish in Edmonton, Alberta, where his siblings live. In addition, with permission from the new archbishop in Canada, Irenee Rochon, he was allowed private visits to parishioners, but not to parishes.
However, SNAP has been told that now that Storheim has been defrocked and Rochon can no longer control where the lay monk goes. However, the former archbishop is still subject to his abbot. Moreover, church officials are not without power to protect children in OCA parishes. The OCA, in fact, has a policy in place for handling sex offenders in parishes which should be applied to Storheim.
According to the OCA guidelines, "a plan of accountability specific to the offender must be created by the parish in order to allow the offender’s participation, ideally before the offender starts attending services." The policy also sets out specific restrictions on the offender, and has a provision covering visits to other parishes. If the plan is violated by the offender in any way, participation and membership in the parish may be terminated.
Members of the victims’ group have written to the abbot of St. Silouan, Archimandrite David Edwards (613-925-3004, email@example.com) and to the OCA’s Synod of Bishops, urging them to use their authority to make sure that plans of accountability are in place at each and every parish that Storheim attends or visits. SNAP also stressed that the plans need to be monitored and enforced. The survivors also begged the officials to make sure that Storheim is never again employed in an OCA parish in any capacity.
Archbishop Nathaniel Popp (517-522-4800, firstname.lastname@example.org), Archbishop Nikon Liolin (508-764-3222, email@example.com), Archbishop Benjamin Peterson (415-567-9378, firstname.lastname@example.org), Archbishop Alejo Pacheco-Vera (5784-5198, email@example.com), Archbishop Melchisedek Pleska (724-776-5555, firstname.lastname@example.org), Archbishop Mark Maymon (570-937-9331, email@example.com), Archbishop Irenee Rochon (613-223-7780,firstname.lastname@example.org), Archbishop Michael Dahulich (914-779-6580, email@example.com), Bishop Alexander Golitzin (419-693-9540, firstname.lastname@example.org), Bishop David Mahaffey (907-538-9318, email@example.com), Bishop Paul Gassios (312-202-0420, 202-0424, firstname.lastname@example.org).
The OCA bishops are responsible for parishes in Canada, Mexico and across the United States.
Melanie Jula Sakoda, one of the two Orthodox Christian Directors for SNAP, said, “The former archbishop was convicted of abusing an eleven year old boy. At the very least, the Synod of Bishops and Father Seraphim’s abbot should have a plan of accountability in place at Saint Silouan’s and at any parish that the monk visits. The safety of kids should be their first priority.”
The other Orthodox Christian Director for SNAP, Cappy Larson, chimed in, “Father Seraphim cultivated a relationship with two kids while he was their parish priest. Later, after he was transferred to another parish, he invited the boys to visit and while under his control, isolated and alone, he abused both them. Yet the former archbishop still has a loyal following, and there are people who don’t see him as a threat. That’s a dangerous combination, especially since this predator is still dressed in robes and called ‘Father.’”
Sakoda continued, “We also want the synod to use its power to make sure that the defrocked archbishop is not on the payroll in any of their parishes, even as a layman. Another priest, Robert Kondratick, was for many years the OCA chancellor. After he was defrocked for his role in diverting money from the church, he was allowed to work in a parish as an ‘administrator,’ where he again absconded with funds.”
“We want the synod to promise not to make the same mistake with Father Seraphim, because if he reoffends the consequence will be shattered young lives, not just missing funds,” added Larson.
David Clohessy, the Executive Director of SNAP, reminded church officials: “You have it in your power to save a boy or a girl from a lifetime of needless suffering. Please don’t put kids at risk. Use your authority to make sure that your policy is applied and enforced, and that Father Seraphim is not employed by the church in any capacity.”
Here's the letter SNAP is sending today:
We are victims of child sexual abuse who belong to an organization called SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. We are writing to you today about the former archbishop Seraphim Storheim, who as you know, was convicted of child sexual abuse.
Since Father Seraphim is now only a simple monk, not a clergyman, he is no longer under the direct control of any bishop. We have already written to the head of The Monastery of Saint Silouan, where the former archbishop resides, urging him to apply the Orthodox Church in America’s guidelines on how to deal with sex offenders in the parish to this monk, and to use his authority to keep Father Seraphim from accepting employment at any other church.
However, we also believe that all of you can take steps to minimize the risk to the children of the Faithful.
Father Seraphim cultivated a relationship with two boys while he was their parish priest. Later, after he was transferred to another parish, he invited the children to visit and while under his control, isolated and alone, he abused them. Yet the former archbishop still has a loyal following, and there are people who do not see him as a threat. That is a dangerous combination, especially since this predator is still dressed in robes and properly addressed as “Father.”
We urge all you to order each and every one of your priests to make sure that his parish has a plan of accountability in place for Father Seraphim before any planned visit. Archbishop Irenee can also insist that Archimandrite David Edwards develop a plan for his monastery. We also beg you to order that your priests make sure that these plans are properly monitored and enforced, including consequences for non-compliance.
In addition, we urge all of you to use your authority to make sure that none of your parishes offer employment to Father Seraphim. That mistake was made with the former priest Robert Kondratick. However, if the former archbishop were to reoffend, the consequences will be shattered young lives, not just missing funds.
You have it in your power to save a boy or a girl from a lifetime of needless suffering. Please do not put children at risk. Use your authority to make sure that the OCA’s policy is applied and enforced with respect to Father Seraphim within the parishes under your control, and that none of them put him on their payroll.
David Clohessy of St. Louis, MO, Executive Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com), Cappy Larson of San Francisco, CA, SNAP Orthodox Director (email@example.com), Melanie Jula Sakoda of Moraga, CA, SNAP Orthodox Director (925-708-6175 cell, firstname.lastname@example.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.