Canadian police charge senior Orthodox prelate with sex crimes
Canadian police have charged a senior Orthodox prelate with sexually assaulting two boys during the 1980s, the latest in a tide of such charges worldwide involving church officials. Winnipeg police said on Thursday that Archbishop Kenneth William Storheim, 64, flew from Edmonton, Alberta, to Winnipeg to turn himself in and was charged with two counts of sexual assault.
Storheim is the archibishop of the Archdiocese of Canada of the Orthodox Church in America but has been on a leave of absence since October 1, according to a statement on the church’s website. Storheim, who was raised a Lutheran and was an Anglican rector before being received in the Orthodox Church in 1978, worked at a church in a poor Winnipeg neighborhood from 1984 to 1987 and later moved to Edmonton and Ottawa.
According to his biography on the church’s website, Archbishop Seraphim (as he is known in the Orthodox Church) “serves in a number of administrative capacities in the Orthodox Church in America. He is secretary of the Holy Synod of Bishops, chairman of the Department of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations and chairman of the Board of Theological Education. As chair of the Department of External Affairs and Interchurch Relations, he has represented the OCA at numerous events in Russia, Ukraine, the Middle East, and throughout Europe. He also is co-chairman of the Bishops’ Dialogue (North America) between the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas [SCOBA] and the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Most recently, he was appointed Administrator of the Metropolitan See of the Orthodox Church in America upon the retirement of Metropolitan Herman on September 4, 2008.”
The archbishop’s temporary replacement, Bishop Irénée of Quebec, announced his leave of absence in a letter to the faithful here.
Police released Storheim on a promise to appear in court.
Charges of child sexual abuse against officials of Christian churches have made headlines around the world over the past two decades. Since 1992, the Roman Catholic Church has paid $2 billion in settlements to victims in the United States alone.
In Canada, widespread physical and sexual abuse has been documented at boarding schools run by various denominations from the 1800s into the 1990s as they attempted to assimilate aboriginal children by separating them from their families.