DENVER -- Greek Orthodox officials have named a temporary administrator for the church's Denver Diocese to fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Bishop Anthimos, who quit in the wake of a sex scandal.
Anthimos' resignation was announced Nov. 16 by Dimitrios I, patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church in Istanbul. The Denver bishop had been accused of seducing Despina Gallas, 27, the daughter of a New Jersey priest, and holding her in sexual servitude for three years beginning in 1979.
Bishop Kallistos, 64, Anthimos' temporary successor who operates a church retreat center near Cheyenne, Wyo., says he doesn't know how long he will be vicar of the 14-state Denver Diocese and doesn't know if he might be named bishop.
The alleged affair occurred in Boston when Anthimos (Orthodox bishops use only the single name) was head of the church's diocese there. According to People magazine, which reported the affair in the Sept. 28 issue, the young woman's father was Anthimos' chancellor of the diocese.
The case went to the highest episcopal synod of the worldwide Greek Orthodox Church. Both Anthimos and the young woman's father, who is now a priest in New Jersey, appeared before the synod in Istanbul.
Church officials said that Anthimos, 54, decided to resign "for the peace of the church." He retains his standing as a bishop but without a diocese. He declared himself "innocent and never a participant in any wrongdoing," church officials said.
They also said that the Rev. George Gallas, the father of the young woman, "realizing the harm which he caused to the church through his inappropriate actions, requested to be forgiven and signed a statement that he is ready to receive a canonical ecclesiastical sanction."
Gallas is pastor of Saint Athanasios Church in Paramus, N.J. He declined to comment after the ruling was announced. A church official said it is presumed the sanction was imposed on him because he publicly accused a bishop of wrongdoing.
Ecclesiastical sanctions range from simple reprimands to removal from the ministry, but officials said they don't believe Gallas has been defrocked.
Kallistos, the new administrator of the Denver Diocese, said, "I'd rather not be a bishop of the diocese, but I will do whatever the church asks me to do," he said. "I wouldn't go seeking the job."