Antioch investigating “ecclesiastical transgressions” of Met. Joseph, former head of American Archdiocese

Balamand, Lebanon, February 29, 2024

Photo: Antiochian Patriarchate Photo: Antiochian Patriarchate     

A Synodal Committee of the Antiochian Patriarchate is investigating the “ecclesiastical transgressions” of Metropolitan Joseph, the former head of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.

The committee will report to the Holy Synod, which will make the appropriate decision.

The Patriarchate reported yesterday:

The Synodal Committee formed by His Beatitude Patriarch JOHN X held a meeting to discuss the developments taking place in the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America.

This committee consists of Metropolitans: Elias Audé (Beirut), Antonios Souri (Zahlé and Baalbek), Nicolas Baalbaki (Hama), and Athanasius Fahd (Latakia).

Its first meeting which took place in Balamand was chaired by His Beatitude and attended by the Metropolitans, members of the Committee. It examined the ecclesiastical transgressions committed by the former Metropolitan of the Archdiocese Joseph Zehlaoui.

It decided to hold several meetings for further investigation and deliberation, in order to prepare a detailed report to be submitted to the upcoming Holy Synod meeting on March 13, 2024, where the appropriate decision will be taken.

Met. Joseph was enthroned as head of the Archdiocese in December 2014, having already served as a bishop for more than two decades in Syria and the U.S.

In 2022, Helena Ditko revealed to Archdiocesan officials that she had been romantically involved with the Metropolitan from 2001 to 2017 (she was divorced in 2004), and that she could no longer remain silent. The accusations and investigation were leaked and published online, and the resulting scandal led to the Metropolitan’s retirement last September.

Then, in October of last year, Met. Joseph brought a lawsuit against the Archdiocese and several board members, arguing that he has not been given the severance package he was promised.

In addition to a number of other benefits he says he was promised, Met. Joseph hopes to continue living at the Los Angeles chancery, though he also owns a home in Post Falls, Idaho, that is valued at nearly $1.7 million.

Met. Joseph is seeking at least $5 million in compensatory damages, as well punitive damages and declaratory and injunctive relief.

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