The following brief report appeared yesterday on the website of the Antiochian Archdiocese. For context see the Metropolitan Joseph: The Scandal section in our Archives 2020-22 linked at the top of this page.
The fact that Joseph Al-Zehlaoui was granted the appearance of an honourable “retirement” — fooling exactly no one (the scandal attracted over a half million views to Orthodoxy in Dialogue in a matter of weeks, a number that normally takes us two and a half years to achieve) — and that all messaging from Damascus and Englewood rings of “back to business as usual,” leaves the most critical questions to emerge from these past three months unanswered. The faithful who have been in touch with us from all over the world want to know: What sort of compensation, or at least public apology, will be offered to Al-Zehlaoui’s principal accuser? Why hasn’t Al-Zehlaoui been compelled to repent publicly of his very public sins, but allowed rather to use the Archdiocese website twice to spew his nonsensical and cynical self-hagiography? Why wasn’t he deposed? Most importantly, what steps will be taken immediately to formulate and implement policies and procedures for responding to allegations of sexual and other abuse at the hands of the Archdiocese’s hierarchs, clergy, monastics, and lay employees and volunteers? What assurances do the children, youth, women, and men of the Archdiocese have that their abuse will be handled more properly than this sad episode has exposed?
There can be no more business as usual. The Archdiocese must not squander this opportunity for sweeping reforms from top to bottom of its administration.
His Beatitude Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East warmly welcomed a delegation from the Antiochian Archdiocese at the Saint John of Damascus Institute of Theology in Balamand, Lebanon from Nov. 9-10, 2022.
His Beatitude gave the Archdiocese the blessing to begin the process of nominations for a new Metropolitan according to the Antiochian constitution and the Archdiocese’s constitution, under the supervision of His Eminence Metropolitan Antonios, Patriarchal Vicar for the Archdiocese.
His Beatitude offered the delegates words of hope and encouragement for the future. He asked them to convey to all the clergy and laity of the God-protected Archdiocese these messages:
- Remember the inheritance of the Orthodox faith from our physical and spiritual ancestors;
- Preserve and enhance the Antiochian spirit of evangelism, growth, and education, as given to us by the apostles;
- Produce a visionary plan for spiritual, administrative and pastoral growth.
Later this month, Metropolitan Antonios will arrive at the Archdiocesan Headquarters in Englewood, New Jersey. He is making plans to visit several parishes and meet with clergy and laity during his time in North America. The Temporary Operating Committee will assist His Eminence with the administration of the Archdiocese until the election of the new Metropolitan.
The North American delegation consisted of Their Graces, Bishops: Thomas Joseph, John Abdalah, and Nicolas Ozone, together with the Vice-Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mr. Fawaz El Khoury, the Chief Financial Officer of the Archdiocese Mr. Salim Abboud, and the Vicar General of the Archdiocese Archpriest Thomas Zain.
The meetings were also attended by Their Eminences, Metropolitans: Saba Isber (Hauran, Syria), Silouan Moussi (Mount Lebanon), and Antonios El-Soury (Zahlé, Lebanon) the Patriarchal Vicar.
The delegates thank His Beatitude and Their Eminences for the cordial and productive dialogue.