The Culture of Silent Obedience

Sound familiar? Many religious organizations are held together by the culture of silent obedience. Crimes which are committed by “God’s people” are often overlooked or covered up for years. A sex-scandal is emerging now out of the Serbian Orthodox Church. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reports the story:

Bishop Kacavenda poses with Belgrade stripper Dejan Nestorovic

The Serbian Orthodox Church has approved the resignation of a powerful cleric amid sex-scandal claims that culminated this week with the publication of a graphic video appearing to show him engaged in sexual activity with young men.

Vasilije Kacavenda, the bishop of Tuzla and Zvornik in Bosnia-Herzegovina, retreated from his clerical duties months ago as allegations mounted that he had used his position for years to stage frequent orgies and rape underage boys and girls.

But the April 22 decision by the Holy Synod to accept his resignation appears to be the first acknowledgment of the church’s growing unease with the crush of lurid accusations that seem better suited to Caligula’s court than an Orthodox diocese.

Bojan Jovanovic, a former theological student in Bijeljina, the seat of Kacavenda’s diocese, says he observed numerous orgies organized by the 74-year-old bishop and attended by fellow clerics and prominent businessmen.

Jovanovic says Kacavenda personally appealed to him to supply young children for sexual purposes and frequently called on high-ranking church officials to organize trysts with young theological students.


The church’s stance has drawn unfortunate comparisons with the Vatican’s handling of its own sex-

abuse scandals. Mirko Djordjevic, a sociologist in Belgrade, says the Orthodox leadership has long thought of itself as untouchable even as rampant evidence of wrongdoing came to light.

“Our church tried to push these things under the carpet. Or, once things could no longer be hidden, the civil courts have waited for the statute of limitations to kick in,” Djordevic says. “In the case of Bishop Pahomije, the state is simply waiting for the whole thing to get old, even though the phenomenon of pedophilia in the church and in society is widespread. The trouble is that in our country, except for some notable exceptions, the public is asleep or intimidated and doesn’t have the courage to face these problems.”

[Emphasis my own.]