Monk Details Sex, Drugs, Weeping Icon at Texas ROCOR Monastery
Brownsville Herald, USA - Apr. 15, 2007 (Edited by OCH)www.brownsvilleherald.com
Monday April 16, 2007
Note of Interest: You will find in this article the name of Archbishop Pangratios (Demetrios Vrionis), however, you will not read that he was at one time Archdeacon to His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North and South America.
One of five monks facing charges of sexually abusing children told authorities that an inner circle of monks at the monastery there had sex with one another, smoked marijuana and used an eyedropper to produce fake tears on a Virgin Mary icon. The allegations are the latest revelation into life at The Christ of the Hills Monastery, in Blanco Texas, which was allied with and under the omophor of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia from 1991 to 1999. The Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia broke ties with the monastery when allegations surfaced of indecency by San Antonio-businessman-turned-monk Samuel Greene with an 11-year-old novice monk studying there. Greene pleaded guilty in 2000 to indecency and was sentenced to 10 years probation. Monk Jonathan Hitt received a 10-year prison sentence in the case. Greene, Hitt and three others were charged last year with sexual assault of a child and engaging in organized crime. All the monks except Hitt are free on bail and awaiting trial, authorities said.
In July, monk Hugh Brian Fallon detailed to investigators some of the activities going on at the monastery. That statement was released by court order last month. The monks claimed that a Virgin Mary icon wept tears of myrrh, but those tears came from an eyedropper Greene kept in his nightstand, Fallon said. Greene encouraged sex among the monks and would offer marijuana "when people were having problems," Fallon said in his statement. A man who answered Greene's phone Sunday said that the monk is not talking to the media and had no comment. Last year, the insurance company for the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia settled a claim by a man who says he was abused as a teenager at the monastery. "I don't know whether any of these individuals is a legitimate clergyman or not," said [Blanco County, TX] District Attorney Sam Oatman. "We'll find out, but I don't believe they are." He seems not to be the only one confused about the issue, as more questionable information comes in from our longtime detractor Derek "Fr. Aidan" Keller. He wrote: "The Blanco monastery has no Old Catholic history. They went from being Roman Catholic monks to the Pangratios group, and from there into ROCOR, then Kyiv [sic.], then back to Pangratios." The fact remains Blanco was not legitimate Orthodox, and thus could be classified as vagante, for the better part of its foul existence -- and remains so today.
The history of Blanco, as with most such groups, is difficult to track with certainty. The fact that Samuel A. Greene was known as "Bishop Benedict" when Christ of the Hills came (briefly) under its only canonical jurisdiction, ROCOR, should be sufficient to settle this contention. Apparently this group had a number of vagante experiences. It is reported to have had some germination as part of the Roman Catholic Church. Then in the 1970s, it went under its own banner, "Ecumenical Monks Inc.," a "non-denominational" outreach to anyone interested in monasticism, regardless of confession. This has all the marks of a vagante era, though it is not a well-documented time.
Blanco gained its only period of legitimacy as part of ROCOR, 1991-99. After ROCOR expelled it in early 1999, it then joined an alleged "Ukrainian Orthodox" church -- not the Kievan Patriarchate, but what seems to be another claimant of dubious canonicity. * For the vast majority of its career -- before ROCOR and after this Kiev group -- COTH has been under an episcopoi vagante named "Pangratios" (Demetrios G. Vrionis) -- not to be confused with a priest of the same name arrested last Monday. This "Pangratios" was "bishop" for the "Archdiocese of Vasiloupolis" (Queens), which he founded personally after being deposed by the Greek Orthodox Church. He was later convicted of child molestation. Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver told the press: "None of our bishops consecrated him as a bishop...It's like a doctor operating without a license." Vrionis's own website refers to his group as "an independent Orthodox church," the definition of vagante. Whether his group was technically under an offshoot of the Union of Utrecht or not is semantics, of which Keller is a past master. Vrionis is not a legitimate Orthodox bishop but part of the broader vagante movement, which appropriates the Orthodox name for its own purposes (in Blanco's case, pederasty and fraud).
One can see why Keller may wish to obscure Pangratios' legitimacy. According to Al Green, an Orthodox authority on Pseudodox groups, "A cohort of Pangratios is 'Vicar Bishop' Kyrill (Esposito), reputedly consecrated by Pangratios in 1999."** This would be the same man listed as "H. Ex., Rt. Rev. Bishop Kyrill (Esposito), Vicar Bishop of the Archdiocese" on the archdiocesan directory of the Milan Synod, Keller's longtime ecclesiastical home. Blanco has dishonored the term "Orthodox" too long; good men would not aid them. * - The Milan Synod claimed it had ordained him as a bishop and that he denied (or obscured) that ordination when applying to the OCA. ** - Incidentally, Dennis "Kyrill" Esposito is also listed as a professed lay member of the Roman Catholic "Third Order of Carmelites" (an "Isolate Member" of the "Most Pure Heart of Mary Province"), as well as Chaplain General for the Most Honorable Order of Christian Knights of the Rose.