As widely reported in the Canadian media, His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada appeared before the Winnipeg City Police and charged with two counts of sexual assault of minors on Wednesday, November 24, 2010.
In a statement addressed to the clergy and members of the Archdiocese of Canada’s Diocesan Council on Thursday evening, November 25, a copy of which was received by the Chancery of the Orthodox Church in America, Igumen Alexander [Pihach], Chancellor of the Archdiocese, stated that “nothing has been proven against the Archbishop. In all probability, this matter will now go to trial.
“The matter is proceeding much as Archbishop Seraphim expected, because of the high profile nature of the situation, and the notoriety associated with it,” the statement reads. “Events are alleged to have taken place 25 years ago, when the men making complaints were children. Therefore, a publication ban has been placed against the release of their names. Any release of their names is a violation of the Winnipeg court order.
“In accordance with very strong legal advice to do so, Archbishop Seraphim has remained silent to the allegations against him,” the statement concludes. “This provides the opportunity for his lawyer to obtain, through the courts, the evidence Winnipeg police have compiled. Archbishop Seraphim will then be able to respond to a full picture of the allegations made against him. Continued prayers are required for all concerned in this situation. As information becomes available, it will be provided to the faithful of the archdiocese.”
As reported on October 29, 2010 on the OCA web site at http://www.oca.org/news/2308, the Holy Synod of Bishops “offered its blessing to the creation of a Synodal Commission that will be responsible for the internal investigation following allegations concerning His Eminence, Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa and Canada, who is currently on leave of absence…. The Holy Synod of Bishops entrusted the Synodal Commission to the guiding authority of His Grace, Bishop Tikhon of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania and His Grace, Bishop Melchisedek of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.”
On October 30, His Grace, Bishop Irenee of Quebec City, Temporary Administrator of the Archdiocese of Canada, addressed a letter to the clergy and faithful of the Archdiocese, the text of which may be found at http://www.archdiocese.ca/news/2010/20101030-Leave-of-absence.htm.
Additional information will be forthcoming as it is received.