The Orthodox Church of America (OCA) Archdiocese of Canada won’t defrock a disgraced archbishop recently found guilty of sexually assaulting a Winnipeg boy in the 1980s. Instead, the church quietly retired Archbishop Seraphim Storheim. The decision outraged critics who say the decision to spare Storheim defrocking goes directly against the church’s sexual misconduct policy. Melanie Sakoda, the Orthodox director of SNAP, also known as the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said, “I think they’re being very cautious, there’s a lot of sentiment of support for him in Canada. The thing that bothered me is their policy seems to be very clear… if he’s found to have abused a child, he’s to be defrocked”. The archbishop still awaits sentencing after a court found him guilty in January of sexually assaulting a pre-teen boy in the mid-1980s, when he was rector at Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg.
The church’s sexual misconduct policy, updated last fall, states that the church would depose and permanently prohibit from exercising any functions or responsibilities of parish ministry any clergy found to have committed child sexual abuse. Officials for the OCA, the parent organisation to the Archdiocese of Canada, said that the decision to retire came from a need to replace Storheim as ruling bishop in Canada and that they haven’t ruled out defrocking the archbishop. Archpriest Eric George Tosi, secretary for the OCA, said per the canons, a final ruling on Storheim’s fate would be in the hands of a 12-member spiritual court. The court can’t convene until the church’s initial investigation is complete. This is an arduous process, which Sakoda says isn’t necessary, noting, “The trouble with that, is unlike the Catholic Church, in the Orthodox Church the canons are sort of guidelines, they aren’t law. If they wanted to do this, whether it is a panel of 12 bishops or not, they could. I think that sends a message and it sends the wrong message”.
In a letter dated 21 March, the church decided that they’d retire Storheim and that he’d continue in the clergy, as a retired member, take communion with the clergy, and worship in his choice of a church in Edmonton AB or Spencerville ON. The church suspended Storheim in November 2010 when the allegations of abuse first surfaced, saying that a commission would decide his fate within the church after the criminal procedures were complete. The court will sentence Storheim sometime in June, and after that, his lawyer said that he’d file an appeal.
2 April 2014
Cappy and Mel get a lot of flak from “goodthinkers”… “We shouldn’t complain about the clergy… we should cover up their sins… we have no right to attack such good people”… yadda, yadda, yadda. Let’s be blunt. The OCA First Families apparat doesn’t give a rat’s ass for the victims. It’s one thing to see that Storheim got legal counsel, but I’ll be blunt, I think that his lawyer, Gindin, was an asshole who based his defence on attacking the victims’ sanity and credibility (that’s my opinion, I can state it publicly, and they can’t sue me for so doing). The OCA Holy Synod knew that was Gindin’s defence… they said nothing. Ergo, when Gindin attacked the witnesses’ credibility, the OCA attacked their credibility.
Tosi makes me want to hurl. All that the Church needs is Justice Mainella’s rather long and rather detailed verdict. It’s time for this shit to end. It’s time to depose Storheim, send him to a remote monastery (in foreign parts, if necessary), apologise to his victims, and pay them reasonable compensation for the unnecessarily nasty attacks levelled on them by Gindin (Gindin deserves a good swift kick in the ass for choosing such low and despicable tactics… I know more than one person willing to do the deed… I know some Cossacks willing to give him more than a swift kick). It’s time for the lawyerly shit to end. Real people were hurt; real people had their reputations dragged in the mud… and these jabronies want to spin it out. Pass me the jug… I know that the human race is sinful and full of self-serving tricks, but this is too much. God have mercy on Storheim’s innocent victims… haven’t they gone through enough?