Last month I wrote about a young man who had been to a monastery and said he saw some things that greatly disturbed him. He and I established contact. I blogged about our conversation, giving him the pseudonym “Alex,” and obscuring things about his identity to protect his privacy while he discerned what he should do. I wrote then:
Any religious vocation built on concealing the truth about serious wrongdoing is a religious vocation built on a house of sand, which is to say, a lie. The temptation you face here, Alex, is to put your own private interest over the interest of the whole church, and more importantly, the truth. If what you say you have seen and heard is true, then to participate in the cover-up and deception as the price of admission to the fraternity is to give up your integrity, and quite possibly your soul.
Because here’s the thing: if they get you to accept that it’s okay to lie about such things so as not to scandalize the faithful, or for whatever reason, they’ve got you. There will be no end of the compromises that will be pressed on you as a priest or religious, all for the same reason: to protect the Church, to protect yourself, to protect the faithful. What they’re really about is protecting evildoers, usually evildoers in positions of power within the religious organization.
Some of you, in the comments, assumed I was talking about a Catholic. In fact, “Alex” is an Orthodox Christian named Stepan Hatting. He is now speaking out about his experiences, not using a pseudonym, but under his own name. He has made some dramatic allegations — allegations that demand an answer. Go here to see what’s going on. Remember, an allegation is only that: an allegation. But Hatting’s allegations are detailed and specific, and he is putting his name to them. That doesn’t make them true, but it does mean they must be taken far more seriously than anonymous allegations. I hope and I expect that those individuals and institutions he accuses will respond to credibly confirm or deny his statements. I invite anyone who has more information to substantiate or discredit these allegations to post here — or better, go to Monomakhos (linked above), where most of these conversations are taking place among Orthodox.