BROOKLYN – “I’m happy I’m back in my church, and I never bothered them,” Fr. Gerasimos Makris said outside Holy Cross Church in Bay Ridge on December 9 when asked about allegations of “inappropriate” contact with two women, the New York Post reported.
As The National Herald reported, the Archdiocese of America reinstated Archimandrite Makris at the Holy Cross Church in Brooklyn after he had been removed pending allegations by a woman of his “improper behavior” of a sexual nature. TNH also learned that the Archdiocese ignored the decision of its Spiritual Court, which recommended that Fr. Makris not be defrocked but not be reappointed, either.
The Court convened on September 5 at Archdiocese headquarters, and was comprised of the following three priests: Archimandrite Eugene Pappas, Presiding Priest of Three Hierarchs in Brooklyn; Rev. John Lardas, Presiding Priest of the Archangel parish in Port Washington, NY and President of the Clergy Association of the Direct Archdiocesan District; and Rev. Nikiforos Fakinos, Presiding Priest of St. Demetrios in Merrick, NY. All three declined to comment to TNH, citing the policy of confidentiality on Court matters. Archdiocesan Chancellor Bishop Andonios of Phasiane did not respond to TNH’s request for comment.
Makris testified before the Spiritual Court, though his accuser did not. TNH has learned that she did not testify because she was not given enough notice and she could not attend on the specific day on which the Court convened. She requested to appear on alternate dates, TNH has learned, but the Archdiocese did not respond to her request.
Priests spoke with TNH on the condition of anonymity, explaining that in March they raised the issue with Bishop Andonios, telling him that Makris is a man of God – innocent, philanthropic, and ascetic, but that Andonios told them it was not their business to inquire and that the Archdiocese was investigating the matter, about which he said there was a file and the matter “goes back some time.”
Fr. Makris, 51, returned to Holy Cross in October when two nuns in a Long Island convent began posting against him on social media with hashtags #MeToo and #ChurchToo, the Post reported, adding that on “Sunday, the priest tried to downplay the allegations against him saying: ‘People use [the term] sexual abuse as if somebody is sleeping with somebody.’”
“I don’t claim to be perfect. I have my faults,” he told the Post as he left the church following the services, adding “I’m saying [the women are] exaggerating things.”
When asked to “clarify exactly what happened with the women who accused him,” the Post reported that Makris replied, “You have to ask them.”
Although the two women have yet to be publicly identified, one allegedly lives in Brooklyn while the other lives in Massachusetts, where Makris served as a dean at the Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology before he took up his position in Bay Ridge in 2007, the Post reported.
The article also referred to revelations it made in the case of the defrocked George Passias and his illicit relationship with a married woman.
Many Holy Cross parishioners have defended Makris and his return to the parish, as TNH reported, and the Post noted in their article in spite of the nuns’ online protest.
When asked about the social media protest, Fr. Makris told the Post, “I have no idea what the #ChurchToo movement is. Your sexual innuendos in your newspaper lead people toward sexuality. When you guys put and sell women with bathing suits and stuff like that, that’s OK, but when a priest was a human being also… let’s make a newspaper article. Ultimately, no matter what you want to say, my conscience is clear.”