Saturday, October 27, 2007

Orthodox Church Members Firm In Faith After Monk's Sentencing

Oct 25, 2007 08:30 PM PDT

In the Hill Country, members of the Russian Orthodox Church are standing firm in their faith after a guilty verdict for a former monk.

A Blanco County jury sentenced William Hughes late Wednesday to 80 years in prison on four counts of sexually assaulting a child.

After the trial, there is closure for the victims at the Christ of the Hills Monastery in the 1990s.

There is closure, as well, for those who shared the same faith.

So when you say, 'orthodox,' they say, 'Oh, did you belong to that church?'" said church member Gene Yentzen. "It kind of destroys kind of the faith in mankind, that somebody would use the church to produce the fraud that was produced on it."

Investigators said Hughes, 56, deceived the public with a weeping icon at his monastery.

"Because people believed that the icon was weeping, it became a shrine," Yentzen said.

Monks accepted money there, but a jury said they also took much more.

"He took advantage of innocence, and purity, of boys, young men, giving their life, who thought they were giving their life to God," said James Bartlett Wright Jr., a victim of the monk's abuse.

One of Hughes' victims spoke up for the first time after the watching the man walk into jail.

"Do I wish that it had not happened? Of course, but I'm glad that this man, he's away, and he's gone, and he can never come back out," Wright said.

"I personally think that he got what he deserves," Yentzen said.

At least for one man, the orthodox faith deserves a new image.

"You can't let one small part of something that happened in your life, whether it was to you or to a friend or to somebody else, affect what it took years to understand and believe in," Yentzen said.
My friend Andrea Elizabeth reminded me that this story does not mention that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia(ROCOR) broke ties with this monastery years before this story broke and therefore the monastery was non canonical. Very important detail.


Anonymous said...

This is a very sad story. What is not mentioned in the article though is that the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) separated from this monastery some years before, so this group was non-canonical.

Sophocles said...


You're right. I'll add that to the post later on my break.