A parish in Chicago has witnessed the resignation of Bishop Matthias (aka David Lawrence Moriak), amid allegations of sexual misconduct, according to a Sunday report from The Chicago Tribune.
The newspaper reported that the head of the diocese faced initial accusations in August 2012 and was placed on leave around that time.
But unlike recent scandals in the Catholic Church where priests were guilty of rampant child sexual abuse, Moriak’s misconduct was more a professional violation than a criminal one.
The bishop allegedly engaged in sexual activity with a woman, who went unnamed in the Tribune report. In a March address to parishioners at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Chicago, Matthias questioned the motives of his detractors.
“Several priests in the diocese who do not agree with my support of traditional Orthodox practices and my firm stand on moral issues have used this incident as an excuse to have me removed … The loud voices of the clergy who did not want to be obedient to the hierarchy was heard,” he said.
Bishop Matthias held his first meeting in May 2012 after a year of touring. At that time, he banned evening liturgies on Feast Days, baptisms on Sundays, and limited the role of women in worship. He also demanded clergy to wear ceremonial garb and never “street clothes” in public. This caused immediate concerns, according to the newspaper.
In a letter on Sunday, the bishop wrote, “It is my hope that my stepping down will end the ordeal allowing the diocese to move toward healing … I ask for everyone’s forgiveness for my failings, my mistakes and sins. In turn, I assure everyone of my forgiveness.”
According to Holy Orders from the Orthodox Church in America, “it has been the rule … that the bishops be single men or widowers.”
Moriak presumably met that criteria, thus elevating the scandal at the parish in Chicago. It is not known whether the woman alleged in the sexual misconduct was married, which would be a further violation of Christian doctrine under the rules of adultery.
Regardless, the vow of celibacy has long been a practice in different denominations of the Christian faith for those hoping to serve in priest or bishop positions.
Some have speculated — as with the video below — that removing the vow would reduce sexual misconduct claims.
Opponents of the vow point out that it is not an original Christian practice established with the rules of the First Century Christian Church, and it has only existed in Catholicism for 900 years.
Pope Francis has even expressed an interest in the rule change, PIX 11 noted.
Do you think it’s time for the vow of celibacy to go? Would that have made a difference for Bishop Matthias at the parish in Chicago?
[Image via ShutterStock]