For context see the Metropolitan Joseph: The Scandal section in our Archives 2020-22 linked at the top of this page.
Metropolitan Joseph (Al-Zehlaoui)
The following points of information and analysis, coming from among Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s most reliable sources, may serve to revive our readers’ flagging confidence in Patriarch John’s promises of appropriate action, transparency, and direct communication with the people in the matter of the Metropolitan Joseph Scandal.
1). It is widely assumed that Patriarch John has pressured Al-Zehlaoui to resign in order to avoid suspension, investigation, and possible deposal from holy orders. It now seems that his resignation is meant to allow his speedy replacement with a new Metropolitan, to be followed by suspension, investigation, and possible deposal. To suspend him for the duration of a potentially lengthy investigation without compelling him to resign would make it impossible to appoint a new Metropolitan swiftly.
2). It is also widely assumed that the Patriarch is aiding Al-Zehlaoui to avoid the consequences of his actions. Our sources assure us that His Beatitude’s paramount concern is to ensure that justice be served, even if this means an unhappy outcome for Al-Zehlaoui.
3). The author of the incriminating email has presented further evidence to support her allegations against Al-Zehlaoui, especially that he continued to pursue her after she had ended the relationship in repentance.
4). It’s not clear whether Al-Zehlaoui’s second lover (whose identity is known to us) is cooperating with the investigation.
5). The Archdiocesan Board of Trustees is said to be putting together a retirement package for Al-Zehlaoui. Orthodoxy in Dialogue believes that this should be most strenuously opposed. A lay monk spending his remaining time on earth in repentance and monastic seclusion has no need of a retirement package. Besides, a retirement package implies that one has left his post honourably and in good standing. Surely, Al-Zehlaoui can sell the homes he co-owns with his married lovers and give the proceeds to the poor, or at least to the monastery where he is assigned to live.
6). Growing numbers of Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s readers are calling for a financial boycott of the Antiochian Archdiocese until a full forensic audit of Archdiocesan monies is conducted by an outside firm. There is a growing consensus among both clergy and laity that Al-Zehlaoui’s longtime moral corruption must have been facilitated by financial corruption at the highest levels of the Archdiocesan apparatus.
We respectfully urge His Beatitude to issue frequent progress reports—through the Patriarchal Facebook page and website, the Archdiocesan website, and Orthodoxy in Dialogue, to reach the greatest numbers of Orthodox faithful and outside observers around the world—even when there is little or no progress to report. The silence from Damascus, the mystery of Al-Zehlaoui’s current whereabouts, his continued actions as ruling Metropolitan as recently as yesterday, all contribute to the growing perception that nothing is being done.
Orthodoxy in Dialogue will continue to monitor the situation and keep our readers around the world informed as we are able.