Today is June 22nd 2012. After midnight on June 11th former monk Scott Nevins dies of a gunshot near the St. Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery gates in Arizona. He was 27 years old. Nevins was a novice monk there from 18 (or 19) through 26 years of age. He left a year ago under curious circumstances. He allegedly returned to pick up an expensive retainer that he had left. Initial reports are referring to it as a suicide. Whether it is a suicide or not, does anybody really care? For that matter, does anything else going on there matter to anyone?
Legal authorities from the Pinal County Attorney’s Office state that the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office must refer the case to them in order for them to pursue investigating what led to this. However, in the state of Arizona, suicide is not a crime, therefore the Pinal County Attorney’s Office will not perform an investigation unless the Sheriff refers it to them. We hope that the County Attorney’s Office investigates this. We have no reason to doubt the work of the Sheriff’s Department. We are just comfortable with a “checks and balances” system for something so controversial that legitimately calls to question the credibility of the influential monastery leadership.
On June 14th the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of San Francisco had a statement issued from Metropolitan Gerasimos announcing the death of Scott Nevins. He shared his condolences and stated that the Metropolis will be investigating this matter. We are sure the Metropolis will do this. We are not sure how – inasmuch as the Metropolis does not typically investigate deaths of any types. Will the Metropolis retain the services of professional investigative firms? We certainly hope so.
As of yet, there is no statement from the Archdiocese. The Archdiocesan Charter clearly indicates that Metropolitans are responsible to the Patriarch and the Archbishop. This being the case, we are confident that the Metropolis of San Francisco promptly communicated this to the Archdiocese and the Patriarchate of Constantinople. As of yet, there is no statement from either. Is it too soon?
We hope that the severity of this warrants an investigation on behalf of the Archdiocese as well. We prefer this not simply for the “checks and balances” aspect of it, but rather because a young man died at one of our monasteries. This is no small thing. We expect thoroughness – even if it is redundant.
Every one of us can help accentuate the need for a multi-level investigation by writing our Archdiocese and Patriarchate as well. We are very much afraid that this will be swept under the rug if we allow it to be.
By calling attention to this, the focus will indeed turn to the leadership of the monastery. What kind of spiritual direction are they teaching there? This must be part of the investigation. We cannot be afraid to ask these questions. If we are afraid or arrogant enough to not ask these questions, that would hypothetically be no different than blaming the victim of a priest molestation case.
It is certainly no secret that the Ephraimite monasteries have been controversial and raised a number of eyebrows over the years. Their fundamentalist methods and their presentation of an austere form of Orthodoxy that insists on practices that are not the norm in this Holy Archdiocese of America have incited much controversy and debate. It is no secret that this movement which labels itself as “traditionalist” has been accused of attempting to remake who we are, implying (subtly or overtly) that our Church in America has compromised the Orthodox Faith. As a rule of thumb, this is certainly not the case.
If ever there was a time to do something, it is now. We cannot sit idly by, like frogs in a pot of water that is beginning to simmer. We must write to the Archbishop and the Patriarch. You, the reader, must write and express your concerns.
A young man is dead. If it was indeed a suicide, we must not leave any stone unturned and investigate what led to this, with the full force of our complete attention and resources. A young man is dead. A former novice monk. He was one of our sons.
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
8-10 East 79th St. New York, NY 10075
Tel: (212) 570-3500 Fax: (212) 774-0251
His All-Holiness BARTHOLOMEW
Archbishop of Constantinople-New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch
342 20 Fener- Haliç
Tel.: +90 212 5319670 – 6
Fax: +90 212 5349037