Metropolitan Joseph (Al-Zehlaoui)
ADDENDUM 8/24/22: See From the Public Record: Metropolitan Joseph Co-Owns Two Homes with His Victim.
ADDENDUM 8/23/22: See Metropolitan Joseph’s Affair: The Email.

Several insider sources in the offices of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese have confirmed a report of an email from a woman alleging a 16-year affair with Metropolitan Joseph (Al-Zehlaoui) during her marriage and his episcopal tenure. The affair is alleged to have resulted in the woman’s divorce. She is said to have sent her email to some sixty individuals in positions of power in the Archdiocese, including the members of the Board of Trustees.

We are told that a law firm has been engaged to conduct an independent investigation. The Patriarchate of Antioch is said to be following these developments closely.

In a supreme twist of irony (or not), Metropolitan Joseph is known to Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s readers as an inflexibly rigid demander of sexual morality in the Antiochian Archdiocese. As we reported here in January 2020, he has disciplined a priest who dares to pastor LGBTQ persons as human beings and forbidden his priests from attending the same-sex marriages of their own children, while yet attempting to reinstate to active episcopal ministry a bishop convicted of (hetero)sexual assault while under the influence of alcohol in a casino. Also in January 2020, we reported that internet searches using  the keywords “metropolitan joseph girlfriend” were directing people inexplicably to Orthodoxy in Dialogue, where we had never before used the word “girlfriend” in any article. As is so often the case among Orthodox churchmen, the requirements of “sexual morality” only ever apply to homosexual morality.

Hierarchs, clergy, and monastics are no less susceptible to sexual temptation and sin than ordinary laypeople. It is not Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s business to publicize them. However, when one of them is guilty of the very same sins so stridently condemned in others—especially one at the pinnacle of ecclesiastical power and influence—one must necessarily lose his expectation of privacy and pastoral discretion.

The author of the allegations against Metropolitan Joseph may contact us in confidence at editors@orthodoxyindialogue.com if she wishes to go completely public with her email.

We have reached out to Metropolitan Joseph and the Archdiocese for an official response to these allegations.

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