Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Another church scandal in Lebanon

[Originally posted at NOW]

The Catholic Church can breathe a sigh of relief this time: for once, it isn’t them.

Just two months after the Maronite priest Father Mansour Labaki was found guilty by the Vatican of sexually assaulting three minors (and given the typically severe punishment of “prayer and penitence”), the head of a Greek Orthodox monastery in Koura, Archimandrite Panteleimon Farah, has been discharged by Mount Lebanon Bishop George Khodr and sentenced to isolation inside his monastery for committing “practices contrary to Christian life and the monastic calling” – later revealed to be the molestation of youths.

As with Labaki, a crowd of demonstrators quickly congregated to protest the decision and proclaim Farah’s innocence. When LBC’s Dalal Mawad arrived – with permission from the church – to report live from the demonstration, the priest's sympathizers attempted to physically assault her and her cameraman, and were only prevented from doing so by the army. (As the blogger Gino Raidy cannily noted during the Labaki disgrace, these admirers of child rapists are precisely the same people who froth with pious fury when, say, a young Lebanese artist photographs her naked breasts.)

The intimidation of a woman journalist by a mob of religious fanatics is of course a scandal in its own right. Yet the ultimate tragedy is the fate of Farah’s victims themselves, and their families, who will never see the men responsible for their pain brought to real justice. Had it been an ordinary citizen who had molested them, he would have rightly spent a considerable portion of the rest of his life in a prison cell. But give any criminal, no matter how vile, a religious title and he becomes untouchable. Those who defend this notion of shielding wayward clergymen from the law might want to consider how they would feel if it were their children under attack – or, indeed, how they can be sure that it won’t be next time.

Thanks to Christine Sleiman for help with translation.

1 comment:

  1. "Innocent until proven Guilty"
    You should ask to your Dear Christina Sleiman to translate this to you, Mr. Rowel...
    The affair of Father Pantaleimon, is related to a big scandal involving Saoudite arabs offering billions of Dollars to buy The mountains of Lady of Hamatoura and surrounding lands. Fr. Pantaleimon has resisted their plans. Others corrupted individuals, by replacement, accused him of molesting a child. The child is a gay and his mother send him to Fr. Pantaleimon searching for spiritual guiding and the child is under psychic treatment from a long time...I'll leave you the rest for you to investigate ... because it is your job, Mr. Rowell

    BTW: We, the orthodox, don't have something called mob of religious fanatics over here, we have religion freedom, and freedom to express and defend innocent people. Thank you for your respect and your subjectivity