Ioan Pop, the priest with the All Saints Romanian Orthodox Church was just charged with sexual assault at church. Apparently, a woman barely escaped only after a couple walked in on what was going on.
(Though the title might throw you off, this is really not about St John the Baptist.) The news release is rather terse.
According to police, the incident happened last Tuesday All Saints, a Romanian Orthodox Church, in the Birchmount Road/Danforth Road area.
Police charged a Ioan Pop, 54, with sexual assault. He is scheduled to appear in court on the sexual assault charge on Oct. 15.
According to police a couple entered the church and interrupted the alleged assault.
Police believe there may be more victims, and they are asking anyone with information to call investigators at 416-808-4100 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).
Here’s the original police PDF.
LE: More charges were levied on September 30 and Ioan Pop was again arrested.
I dedicated an entire category on this blog to “biserica” (church). I’ve written about the backward Christianity practiced in Romania, I echoed the portrayal of a Romanian priest from Pennsylvania, wrote about the Christian priests in Jerusalem who beat each other every year on Christmas, I wrote a religion Glossary (I, II) and even listed all religious holidays 2010-2020, but I never thought I was going to write about a [Romanian] rapist priest. That’s partly because in the Orthodox Church, priests are allowed to marry and they are actually expected to do so [this priest is married with children], which should at least theoretically reduce the chances of sexual assault / rape. Secondly, the relatively greater autonomy of parishes in Canada should ensure that the chances of getting away with such "lapses" long term are smaller.
Then again, it’s possible that this was a false report – it remains to be seen.
LE: One thing that I previously described and made me uneasy is "sfanta impartasanie" which consists of confessing your sins while you place your head under the priest's black dress. To an outsider walking in, especially if they're not aware of that custom, it may seem like the believer is fellating the priest. If they interrupt such an activity, the "believer" might be dumbfounded (maybe they were just confessing a shameful sin) and run away. I only confessed my sins once in this manner, and the experience left me with a sour taste in my mouth.
I haven’t kept up with the church happenings lately, but if I’m not mistaken, Ioan Pop’s was the only Romanian Church (or, if not the only, then perhaps the first) to have been built in its own building – most of the other (many) churches activating in buildings they borrow/rent from other congregations.
From Romanian Archdiocese of Americas, we find what seems to be a mature organization with multiple contact points.
ALL SAINTS ROMANIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH
Address: 545 Danforth Road
Zip code: M1K 1C9
Priest: V. Rev. Fr. Dr. Ioan Pop
Address: 28 Ashglen Court
Zip code: M1T 3X3
Phone: 416-444-9095; Cell: 416-275-1529
» Choir Director: Teodora Ioana Pop
Address: 28 Ashglen Court
Zip code: M1T 3X3
» Parish Council President: Dr. Cristian Havriliuc
Address: 7 Mallingham Court
Zip code: M3N 6G3
» Ladies' Auxiliary (AROLA) President: Magda Popescu
Address: 59 MacBride Crescent
Zip code: L6A 3R3
Phone: 905-303-8156 / 416-681-6757
The Parish Council is also listed on their website.
Dr. Pop, Ioan
Dr. Havriliuc, Cristian
Vicepresident - Dr. Dinca Panaitescu, Serban
Secretary - Lup, Stela
Churchwarden I - Alexei, Cosmin
Churchwarden II - Vestemean, Radu
Cashier - Letea, Leonard
Ticket Collector - Cozos, Ovidiu
Bookkeeper - Mandeal, Stelian
Bookkeeper - Bangu, Cezar
Administrator I - Marcu, Dan
Administrator II - Pitu, Florin
Social Activities Directors - Banica, Constantin - Popescu, Dan Florin
Media Director - Olaru, Florinel
In charge with Religious Music - Gaina, Dan - Codreanu, Iustin
Counselor - Nicolae, Gheorghe
Counselor - Barbur, Leontin
Counselor - Dragomir, Gheorghe
Counselor - Olaru, Doru
Counselor - Popa, Florin
President - Popescu, Magda
Vicepresident - Otvos, Fanica
Priestess Pop, Adela
The Parish publishes its history as well.
Under the jurisdiction of the Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas, “All Saints” Romanian Orthodox Parish of Toronto, Canada, started with the arrival in Canada, on 5 July 1999, of Fr. John Pop with Adela priestess and the two daughters Julia-Maria and Theodora-Joana, invited by group of believers from Toronto. The intention was to form a parish and build a church for the Orthodox Romanians are living here.
The beginning was exceedingly difficult. A true pioneering work. There was nothing organized because there was nothing before: no church, no house for priest, no salary, no legal registration to the Government, no bank account, no valid stamp or real list of the believers or valid governing council elected by anyone, nor gospel, liturgical vessel or books, no priestly vestments and icons ... absolutely nothing. It was only desire, courage, hope and faith, more faith in God.
We followed the legal steps for the organization and registration of newly created parish, and for very beginning we rented a classroom in a "Community Center" on Progress Street, Hw. 401/Markham Road. Increasing the number of the parishioners, it was necessary to find a more spacious location and thus moved at the address: 48, Thorncliffe Park Drive, Toronto, where we worshipped almost four years, with a break of six months, when, due to capital renovations at main room, we had to change again the location, for Knox Presbyterian Church, at 4156, Sheppard Avenue East, Toronto.
Meanwhile, Father John is struggling to build the church of souls, gathering Christian by Christian, heart to heart, serving God and people with and without time. Even when the storm of the life hit his family, losing their eldest beloved daughter, Julia-Maria, at only 15 years and three months, Fr. John did not abandon the parish or leave it without Holy Mass or sermon. He was and is surrounded and helped by a worthy Parish Council, advised by Committee of the Ladies as well, and others Christians believers. For their supplementary spiritual food, there is weekly published in 200 copies, and distributed for free, the Parish Bulletin with spiritual themes, moral, historical or dogmatic.
First Compact Disc (CD) with Romanian carols songs recorded by a priest in Toronto was that of Father John and reads "Evening of Christmas" and then the second one, "Feast of Nativity has arrived".
In an effort to raise funds for the new desired church building, the parish organized in addition to other activities and those famous and very appreciated balls, (parties), starting with the "snowdrops" and ending with that of "grapes." Besides some financial benefit for the church , there was and is the capital, the most important, closeness, bonding, welding and broaden the community, a better understanding and help for Romanians. Although the services were held in a gym, in provisory conditions, though the room was always full of believers and never Santa Claus forgot to come bearing gifts to the children of our parish.
Once having made the Church of souls, and adding some money, then proceeded to build the wall church. Here's what they say in a call of Father John to the Christians believers in Toronto and across Canada:
"With God's will, following the parable of the Romanian Christians ancestors back home and elsewhere, the founders of the holy places of worship, we decided that here in Toronto, to raise another Romanian church to the glory of God and the salvation of our soul."
In the days of the feast of St. Demetrius, October 26, 2002, and St. Archangels Michael and Gabriel, 8 November 2002, was found the right place by Ovidiu and Viorica Serbanescu family. The deal was done, the place was bought and made all documents in order to become owners of the propriety located at 545, Danforth Road (with Birchmount). Then it was drafted plans to build the new churches: the architecture, design, structure strength, the mechanical, electrical, and obtaining all clearances and approvals from competent authorities to be able to start the work.
Church is "spiritual mother of the Romanian people", said the Romanian paragon poetry, Mihai Eminescu. With the feeling that we belong to a spiritual mother (the Church), and that we will have a Romanian and Christian property in foreign land, we will go with love toward that place, we will feel closer to God and brothers among each others. We will eliminate the feeling of great distance from the country of origin and the partition of it, will clear feel comfortable when we enter a Romanian Church, with a Romanian architecture, with servants and service in the "Language of ancient religious books."
An Orthodox church is usually not large, cold, empty, but is small, full, warm, painted, that it seems that the sky descended on earth. We feel we are in a fortress of the Romanian spirit, and through this desired Church and by other churches, we eternalize and do honorable the Romanian and Christian name in these zones. We will represent on very long term our country of origin, the language, the customs and Romanian faith, here in Canada. We will write a page of history, and history and posterity will not forget us.
The new church was consecrated on 22 June 2008, by a clergy group composed of the Archbishop Dr. Nicolae, Bishop John Cassian, Bishop Irenaeus Duvlea (Romanian Orthodox Episcopate of America) surrounded by 12 priests of the two Romanian Orthodox Diocese of America, 2 deacons, and a multitude of people.
Looking back over time, when in the day first we had nothing, we can exclaim with the Psalmist: "O Great are you, O Lord, and marvelous are your works and they are no words which suffice to praise your wonders," or to say with chronicler: "The thought prevailed!"
There is a link to a page dedicated to Father Ioan Pop on the website, but it was either empty or “censored” since the
I might be naive, but I do hope this is one big misunderstanding or at least a one-time lapse. If, however, it is not a mere misunderstanding, and you are or know of additional victims, contact Police and let them know.
What bugs me and cannot figure out on my own is if people gather in congregations and churches mostly for recapturing a sense of community and less to worship God, does that increase the chances of sexual assault / rape to go unreported, or is it the other way around?
LE: What's been missing from this article is Father Ioan Pop's voice. Here it is, from jr-distrus (link below, in Sources), provided by Rucsandra Saulean in comments.
- the alleged abuse took place on Sept 4, when the woman came to the church to request a letter of recommendation that her lawyer could use in court so that she can see her 8 year old child more often
- "I'm devastated. I’ve no strength left, this is a just a setup, the harshest possible. It’s a terrible shock. I feel destroyed, the good name and the reputation that we have built in 14 years here are squandered."
- her child has been placed in foster care because, according to Father Ioan Pop, the mother is emotionally unstable
- “She had visiting hours only on Tuesday and Wednesday, 2 hours each, and she wanted to see her child on Saturday and Sunday as well and bring the child in the Romanian community. I have also baptised her child, in 2006. She came back to the community a while back and she has also been attending church. We felt empathy for her, we fed her and we even collected clothes and other items for them.”
- “I wrote that letter, then, as is the Romanian custom, we kiss on the cheek when you see them, you kiss them good bye, you wish them safe travel. Two days later police called me to visit them that there is a complaint against me at the 41st Division. They asked me: <<Do you know why you’re here?>> – <<I know if you told me>>, I said. They handcuffed me, took my photo, my fingerprints. They checked my background.. and after about 2 hours they let me go. They told me I can go home, but I am not allowed to go to church, I am not allowed to leave the province – standard restrictions. But I can’t have that, I have to go to church, that’s my job, it’s like they’re telling me I cannot earn my living.
- “The police did not want to tell me anything about the complaint. Not who accused me, not when, not why or how. I learned the details only when they freed me from arrest – on the paper it’s written who accused me and the incrimination – sexual assault. (..) She filed the complaint on Wednesday, and on Sunday she was again in church. We were warm and polite, as usual, we offered her coffee, we talked. I expect her to show up in church this Sunday as well, as if nothing happened. Even her godfather called me, to tell us not to take it to heart, because she is very upset when she filed the complaint and was not thinking straight. And that she will take her complaint back.”
- The Father has on his side even the witnesses supposedly called by the complainant: “The witnesses were there, in the church. Geta & George had been waiting for me for half an hour, in silence. They were left flabbergasted and dumbfounded, how can she say that when they were there and did not disturb us while we wrote the letter and stayed on after she left to discuss their own problem.”
- Father Ioan Pop must attend trial on October 15 even if the complaint will be retracted. “I take it as a test from the Devil, it will pass. Life goes on and maybe others will also learn to stop being warm, to keep distance, to be cold and protocoled and very careful.”
Sadly, that is a real concern. Many educators are no longer touching kids at all for fear or litigation, school boards dismantle swings because they can no longer afford liability insurance, and most professionals are paralyzed by this fear (yr-nwsk).
In an article published in InsideToronto, Magda Popescu rises cautiously to the priest’s defence:
- “Actually he built this church, of course with the help of the community, but he was always working hard,” she said. “Really, I cannot say anything bad about him.”
- Popescu described Pop as a “very good priest” who kept the community together. “Everyone is shocked,” she said. “I don’t know what to believe now...I hope that the truth will come out.”
- About 100 families are members of All Saints.
- Popescu said she has known Pop and his family for about 12 years. “A short time after he came (to Canada) he lost one of his daughters,” she said. “We’ve been very close to them because they went through so much.” Popescu said Pop’s oldest daughter passed away from an illness at age 15 about 12 years ago. Popescu said she spoke to Pop’s wife after hearing on Friday morning that he had been charged. “Of course she’s shocked, and they are trying to deal with everything,” she said. “But definitely we’ll help them, and I guess the community will still be together.”
I might address Grammar Nazism elsewhere. For now, you might want to try folosirea virgulei si simtul limbii.
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