February 19, 2005

Church sinks deeper in scandal

International Herald Tribune


The Church of Greece's ruling body yesterday suspended Panteleimon, Bishop of Attica, for six months, pending an investigation into claims he was part of an alleged trial-fixing ring composed of judges and churchmen that aided suspected drug dealers.

Meanwhile, a prominent priest suspected of acting as a middleman in the ring was arrested yesterday - minutes before he began testifying before a Piraeus examining magistrate regarding charges he stole precious icons from a Kythera monastery in the 1990s - following fears he might flee the country. Archimandrite Iakovos Yiossakis, who is also allegedly involved in embezzlement, comes under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Attica, who suspended him on Thursday under strict orders from top Church authorities.

Panteleimon came under considerable pressure yesterday from the 13-member Holy Synod - which is chaired by Archbishop Christodoulos - to resign, but refused to do so. The bishop has protested his innocence in the face of charges, based on taped phone calls, that he spoke to senior judges and lawyers in an attempt to influence the outcome of specific court cases. He only admitted to having spoken to a lawyer. Panteleimon has also denied accusations, also deriving from recorded telephone conversations, that he made lewd suggestions to an unidentified man.

The Church officially abhors homosexuality, which Christodoulos condemned in November as "a blatant, crying sin."

Posted by kshaw at February 19, 2005 05:03 PM