A bishop in the Romanian Orthodox Church has tendered his resignation after a video surfaced of him having sex with a 17-year-old male.
Corneliu Barladeanu, the Bishop of Husi in northeast Romania, stepped down Friday “for the peace and good of the church,” the patriarchy reported. The 51-year-old cleric maintains his innocence, though, insisting the tape had been doctored. He will remain a monk in the Orthodox church but will hold no official post and cannot celebrate the eucharist.
The announcement was made at the end of a two-day Holy Synod, where the scandal was discussed. It’s been reported another priest was caught having sex with a male student, leading some to question the church’s system of accountability.
“I think that the Synod should have come out with a strong decision to condemn such shameful practices for servants of the church,” said political analyst Stelian Tanase. “Instead they preferred a cover up.”
Church officials insisted the scandal was fueled by “an aggressive campaign of some media outlets aimed against the Romanian Orthodox Church, often with the complicity of some errant priests. All believers… should respect the discipline of the church and permanently renew their spiritual lives.”
More than 85% of Romanians are members of the Romanian Orthodox Church, which dates back to 1872. It is the second largest in size after the Russian Orthodox Church, and has taken a hard line against LGBT rights: In 2016, the church backed a constitutional amendment to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
While Human Rights Watch praised Romania in 2006 for making “exemplary progress in combating rights abuses based on sexual orientation or gender identity,” it remains is one of the only countries in the European Union to deny same-sex relationships any form of recognition,