NEW YORK – Rev. George Passias, 68, presiding priest at St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church in the Upper Manhattan neighborhood of Washington Heights in New York City, is embroiled in a sex scandal with Ethel Bouzalas, to whom he has referred as his “spiritual daughter.” Rev. Passias has impregnated Bouzalas, 45, who has been his close associate for years. Both are married and with children.
Bouzalas’ name was first revealed publicly by the New York Post in a June 1, 2013 article.
TNH has obtained irrefutable evidence that Passias has carried on sexual relations with Bouzalas. Specifically, that they would often frequent the Courtesy Motel in Fort Lee, NJ – as “husband and wife.” Other evidence, including photographs and video footage, shows the couple going to the Countryside Hotel in Cold Spring, NY, and dining at Cliff’s Steak House in Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has suspended Passias from every liturgical, pastoral, and administrative ministry.
Archbishop Demetrios of America, expressed to TNH his “deep sorrow for this grievous event” and added that “the Church will take all the necessary measures for this case, according to the law of God.”
Several attempts by TNH to communicate with Passias and Bouzalas were unsuccessful. We called St. Spyridon but we were told that neither Passias nor Bouzalas were there; Parish Council President Steve Papadatos did not respond to TNH’s request for comment.
Rev. Passias was the Archdiocesan Chancellor during Archbishop Spyridon’s tenure, and is the beloved spiritual son of Ephraim, the priest-monk who left Mount Athos to come to the United States in the early 1990s and established monasteries here, essentially creating a fundamentalist movement within the Greek Orthodox Church..
Passias often organized “pilgrimages” with buses going to Ephraim’s monasteries, filled with hundreds of parishioners. He publicly appeared wearing his anteri (inner cassock), with long hair and a long beard, and also a kosposhoini, presenting himself as spiritual and traditionalist.
Passias met Bouzalas in Brooklyn while pastoring at the Three Hierarchs Church. She was converted to Orthodoxy, and according to the Post article “Passias baptized her while she wore a bikini,” giving her the name Euthalia.
TNH has learned that Bouzalas’ husband is Greek-American, the president of a construction company, and that as of late he has been ill and was hospitalized.
After huge rifts in the Three Hierarchs parish during Passias’ tenure there, the Archdiocese transferred him to St. Spyridon, where he has served for almost ten years.
When he arrived at the Washington Heights church, Passias brought Bouzalas and Papadatos along. The latter became Parish Council President, a position he holds to this day.
Passias appointed Bouzalas Parish Treasurer and also School Principal. No Parish Council elections took place at St. Spyridon – due to lack of candidates.
At Passias’ directive, the parish undertook loans of $3.5 million to renovate its buildings.
Passias, who used the Sacrament of Confession and his teachings about spirituality for many years to attract followers who became his “army of spiritual children,” has already left New York, to visit Ephraim at St. Anthony’s Monastery in Florence, AZ. Abbot Paisios of the Monastery did not respond to TNH’s request for comment.
On September 28, Passias sent the following email to his followers, in which he does not mention the extramarital affair and pregnancy, or his whereabouts.
“My Beloved Spiritual Children in Christ Jesus our Lord:
“Today I share with you a very difficult and trying period in my priestly life.
“The time has come for me to resign from the active ministry for personal and health reasons. Now I will dedicate myself to the repentance that I have tried to preach and share on behalf of our Lord. At the direction of my spiritual father, the Elder Ephraim, I will now fade out of this world for a considerable time according to God’s will. He has chosen for me according to my multitudinous sins and shortcomings, that I should retire and follow the way of silence, prayer, fasting, and utter devotion to our Lord. Please do not ask where I am going and where I will be. Then, it would not be possible for me to fulfill what is my lot.
“It is immeasurably difficult for me to direct you to seek through prayer and vigilance, another spiritual father who will be able to address your needs with love, truth, and conviction for the betterment of your souls. God will provide. But you must also do the due diligence by seeking another Father, and then after prayer, choosing him as your spiritual guide and father. Think not that I will forget you! Never! I have already entered your names to be commemorated every day in the Holy Liturgy forever!
“I am very grateful to the Lord for granting me to be a spiritual father to you, and have tried to do the best that I could to do in that role making myself as available as time and health permitted.
“I will always love you through prayer and in my heart together with your family.
“Please pray for me and Presvytera Mary, and my family, I implore you.
“In His Abiding Love,
“Father George G. Passias.”