TX--Victims’ group disappointed that Orthodox bishops are still considering controversial episcopal candidate
For immediate release: Monday, March 23, 2015
Statement by Melanie Jula Sakoda of Moraga CA, Orthodox Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (925-708-6175, [email protected])
At their recent meeting in Syosset, New York, the bishops of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) delayed a final decision on the election of Archimandrite Gerasim Eliel as the new bishop for the Diocese of the South (DOS).
However, members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are disappointed that the synod did not act on their earlier recommendation to carefully consider this nominee and hold out for another candidate.
Eliel had been the overwhelming favorite to fill the long-vacant see at a recent special assembly of the DOS. However, the OCA’s synod withheld their approval of this selection last week. Instead, they appointed the archimandrite as the administrator of the DOS. The bishops will review this decision at their fall meeting.
“I can certainly see why the synod would want to give Archimandrite Gerasim a ‘test run,’” said Melanie Jula Sakoda of SNAP, “The last candidate selected for the Diocese of the South, who went on to head the whole OCA 11 days after his consecration, was a complete administrative disaster, particularly in the way he handled sex abuse cases. However, if the OCA is serious about changing the way abuse is handled in their Church, the archimandrite seems like precisely the wrong kind of candidate.”
Cappy Larson, also a SNAP leader, agreed.
“The OCA is still reeling from the conviction of Archbishop Seraphim Storheim for the sexual abuse of a child. I can’t believe the synod would seriously consider a man who spent so much time in the company of two notorious sexual predators, and has yet to say a public word against either. Is it really sensible to continue to entertain promoting a man who thinks it’s more important to conceal predators then to protect the vulnerable and help heal the wounded?”