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Archbishop under fire served in Edmonton

A Canadian Orthodox archbishop is being investigated on allegations of sexual misconduct stemming from more than 20 years ago when he was a priest in Winnipeg.

WINNIPEG - A Canadian Orthodox archbishop is being investigated on allegations of sexual misconduct stemming from more than 20 years ago when he was a priest in Winnipeg.

The Orthodox Church in America (OCA) says in a news release that Archbishop Seraphim of Ottawa, the head of the church's Canadian archdiocese, asked for and was granted a three-month leave as of last Friday.

The archbishop, 64, had posted a letter on the archdiocese's website last week suggesting the reason for his leave was health issues.

"Having also seen my physician, I was informed that this leave is rather overdue," he wrote. "It is my intention and hope to maintain as much solitude and silence as possible."

But the subsequent release from the church, posted Friday on their website, stated otherwise.

"I have blessed the church's office for review of sexual misconduct allegations to work in conjunction with the Canadian police authorities," said Metropolitan Jonah, speaking on behalf of the church.

He said the church would comply with its policies and procedures "in order to obtain the necessary information needed to bring about a proper resolution."

No criminal charges have been filed in the case.

Winnipeg police could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Melanie Sakoda of the U.S.-based Survivors' Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said her group has been urging the church to investigate the allegations for some time.

"We heard two years ago that a clergyman had filed a written report alleging that incidents took place more than 20 years ago," she said in an interview from Moraga, Calif.

She said a colleague from SNAP contacted the church at the time and asked why no investigation had been launched.

"The first reason that we were given was that the report, having been made by a clergyman, was second-hand information and so they couldn't do an investigation unless victims contacted them," she said.

She said her group's understanding is that the allegations involve pre-teen boys.

During the archbishop's leave, Bishop Irénée of Quebec City will fill in as head of the Canadian archdiocese, the church said.

According to a biography of Seraphim on the church's website, he was born Kenneth William Storheim in Edmonton.

He served as a priest in Alberta, North Carolina and London, Ont., between 1981 and 1984, when he became rector of Holy Trinity Sobor in Winnipeg, where he served until 1987.

He became an auxiliary bishop of Edmonton in 1987, and became ruling bishop of the archdiocese in 1990. He was elevated to the rank of archbishop of Ottawa and Canada in 2007.

-- by Gwen Dambrofsky in Edmonton

 
 
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