BOSTON – Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Archdiocese of America and Canada was forced to resign under the burden of accusations that he was reportedly involved in a sexual scandal, a matter which is not mentioned directly in the correspondence between Patriarch Ioannis of Antioch and Metropolitan Joseph himself.
The National Herald has learned that the woman with whom Metropolitan Joseph had a long-time erotic affair wrote a detailed letter to Patriarch Ioannis of Antioch, sending copies to the Bishops and the Directors of the Antiochian Archdiocese.
It is reminded here that the Antiochian Archdiocese of America and Canada belongs ecclesiastically and canonically to the Patriarchate of Antioch.
Patriarch Ioannis, in a letter dated Saturday, September 17, 2022 addressed to “The Hierarchs, Priests, Deacons, Members of the Board of Trustees, and Spiritual Children of our Holy Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America” informed them of the following:
“First, we have received from His Eminence, the Most Reverend JOSEPH Zehlaoui, Metropolitan of New York and Archbishop of all North America, his Retirement Letter from his position as Metropolitan of the Archdiocese.
Second, we will duly forward the letter of His Eminence to the Holy Synod to take the necessary actions accordingly.
Third, the immediate effect of the resignation of His Eminence the Metropolitan of the Archdiocese and the circumstances related to it necessitate from us, as Patriarch, to take appropriate measures in order to ensure the proper care and administration of the Archdiocese, in preparation for the next phase. We will inform you of these measures in due course.
Fourth, we ask the Lord to give Metropolitan JOSEPH many years of good health, that he ‘may complete the remaining time of his life in peace and repentance,’ in a manner well-pleasing to the Lord, and in His Grace.”
Metropolitan Joseph explained his decision to resign in a letter dated Saturday, September 17, 2022 addressed to “Our Father in Christ, His Beatitude, Patriarch JOHN X, Brother Hierarchs of the Holy Synod, Beloved Hierarchs of the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America, Reverend Clergy, Esteemed Members of the Board of Trustees, Organization and Department heads, and all the faithful of this God-Protected Archdiocese.”
Metropolitan Joseph, among other things: “My decision is based solely on two things. First, my lifelong love and commitment to the protection of the church, and second, my care and concern for the Archdiocese and its faithful. Having maintained a personal principle throughout my life to ‘never allow anything to hurt the church.’”
He also wrote: “To all those who have falsely accused me by word, thought, or deed, without evidence, whether intentionally or unintentionally, I forgive you. May God be merciful in His judgment upon all of us. Now, let us go forth in peace.”
Messages of The National Herald to the chancellor, Archimandrite Jerome Davis, as well as to Mariline Abou Hanad, administrate assistant to Metropolitan Joseph went unanswered. In a telephone conversation with Bishop John of Worcester and New England, he declined to make any comment.
Metropolitan Joseph was born in Damascus, Syria, on November 2, 1950, the fifth of six children born to Georgi and Mathilda al-Zehlaoui.
He completed his undergraduate studies at the Lebanese University in Beirut and earned his Master of Theology (MTh) Degree with special studies in music and languages from Aristotle University in Thessaloniki, Greece. In 1995, he came to the Archdiocese to serve as an auxiliary bishop based in Los Angeles, California. On July 3, 2014, the Holy Synod of the Church of Antioch and all the East, under the presidency of His Beatitude, Patriarch John X, elected His Eminence as the Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America in succession of the late, long-serving Metropolitan Philip Saliba.
The Antiochian Archdiocese is comprised by almost 300 parishes and missions in the United States and Canada and its headquarters is in Englewood, New Jersey. It has six auxiliary bishops and eight dioceses.
Metropolitan Joseph was the Vice Chairman of the Assembly of the Orthodox Canonical Bishops of America and had participated in many ecclesiastical events of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. He was present at the consecration of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York City on July 4 of this year.