Voices from Russia

Saturday, 18 July 2015

18 July 2015. Seems to be a Busy Day for OCA Retired Bishops!

01 woman on phone


A friend wrote me, “Seems to be a busy day for OCA retired bishops!” and sent me this (another friend sent me the same thing… thanks to both of youse… this site wouldn’t be half of what it is without both of y’all):

Ousted Orthodox Bishop Serving in Pennsylvania Parish: Bishop Ousted Amidst Sexual Misconduct Allegations Returns to Ministry

The former Chicago bishop of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), asked to retire amidst allegations of sexual misconduct two years ago, is now serving as a parish priest in eastern Pennsylvania without permission from the national church. A church official said that Bishop Matthias, born David Lawrence Moriak, serves at the parish in Hermitage PA at the request of another bishop. He stepped down from his post as head of the Midwest diocese in April 2013 after the church deemed sexual misconduct what he described as “unwelcome written and spoken comments to a woman that she regarded as an inappropriate crossing of personal boundaries”. At the time of his ouster, Matthias said, “I do repent of using poor judgement, of using inappropriate words that I thought were being received as humorous. It was never my intention to cause a complaint of any harm or discomfort. In fact, I was quite concerned for her health and well-being. I’m sorry that my kindness and generosity to this person was viewed with suspicion and ulterior motives”.

At the time, Metropolitan Tikhon, leader of the OCA, said Matthias wouldn’t return to his leadership post in Chicago. Whether he’d allow Moriak in a ministry role during his retirement was unclear. In a statement at the time, Metropolitan Tikhon said, “The healing of the diocese and of the complainant as well as Bishop Matthias’ own healing wouldn’t be possible should he be returned to the diocese as a ruling hierarch. The Holy Synod offered him some time to reflect upon this action and to plan for his transition”. However, victims’ advocates say allowing the bishop to return to any form of active ministry violates the church’s zero-tolerance policy. Melanie Sakoda, a member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said, “They’ve done a good job as an Orthodox Church in trying to get a handle on it. It’s not perfect, but they’ve done a good job of trying to change their ways”.

The Rev John Jillions, OCA Chancellor, said the national church’s leaders are reviewing the conditions of Bishop Matthias’ retirement, saying, “The fact is that no such assignment has been made. Bishop Matthias continues to hold the office of a retired bishop in the OCA. Another bishop did ask Bishop Matthias if he’d be interested in the pastoral position in Hermitage. However, the matter hasn’t been fully discussed or approved by the Holy Synod of Bishops, nor has Bishop Matthias been released to assume any church positions”. Bishop Matthias didn’t return calls for comments. The OCA, one of several branches of Orthodox Christianity in the USA, claims about 100,000 adult members nationwide and 5,000 in the Midwest.

17 July 2015

Chicago Tribune



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