Weeping Icon in Utah Divides Parish

Reported oil tears from a Jesus painting at Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church in Holladay, Utah, have triggered a massive dispute among the people of the local parish with many supporting what they believe is a miracle and others asking for explanations and the removal of head priest Father Michael Kouremetis.

The story began some years ago when the parishers first noticed oil drops on the icon of Christ the Archpriest, which the man responsible for filling the oil lamps undoubtedly characterized as a mirage, since he said he hadn’t spilled oil on it.

The reported urative powers of the oil tears spread around and Kouremetis said that many parishioners, who did not want to be named, had experienced the power of God through the icon. However, many others remain skeptical over the issue and the church Council’s president Dimitrios Tsagkaris has openly questioned the claims and noted that the church worker was directed by Kouremetis to sign a statement proclaiming the icon miraculous.

According to a Salt Lake Tribune report, the dispute escalated when Tsagkaris called the circumstances surrounding the weeping icon suspicious and the head priest of the Church characterized disbelievers as “black souls.” The council has written Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver asking him to remove the priest from his position.

Isaiah publicized the council’s letter to all parishioners and asked them to take responsibility over the matters occurring within their community and not simply put the blame on the priest. “In Salt Lake City, it appears that the priest is always to blame. … is there no sharing of the responsibility of any lay members of the church as well? A realistic self-examination must reveal accountability from more than one direction,” he said, according to the newspaper. Isaiah, however, promised to look into the matter and make a decision.