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A LETTER TO H.E. THE ARCHBISHOP

July 18th, 1997

Dear Archbishop Spyridon,

As a student at the Greek Orthodox School of Theology, I feel it is imperative to respond to the controversies surrounding the recent reassignment of three professors at the seminary by Archbishop Spyridon. It is a sad fact that the voice of the students has been largely neglected in this matter, when, in reality, it is of primary importance. Thus, this letter represents the 'general conscience of the students', and has no ulterior motive other than to express the underlying truths of the school, which, for many readers, will be a new perspective.

The professors, and their friends in the Greek press, have effectively shrouded the truth of the situation by claiming that the decision of the Archbishop is unconstitutional and unlawful. However, this is not the case, as the seminary is under the jurisdiction of the Greek Archdiocese, and, as such, is subject to canonical tradition. So, the real issue is not whether the Archbishop has the authority to reassign professors, but WHY DID HE EXERCISE HIS RIGHT? As a student of the school, I can honestly say, with both heart and mind, that the Archbishop made the right decision because the professors were, in many cases, inadequate as administrators, teachers, and spiritual fathers.

As administrators, all three professors were on a committee that denied five students the opportunity to study in Greece on full scholarships. Even though the students had completed the prerequisites and requirements for the scholarships, which were offered by the Greek government, the school created their own stipulations, thereby denying these students the opportunity to study abroad. This sort of decision-making drains the enthusiasm of students for their faith, for it makes them feel victimized by people in positions of power, when these same people, who represent the leadership of our Church, as supposed to help us come closer to our faith.

As teachers, these professors created an atmosphere of fear in the classroom; consequently, students were prevented from asking questions or, when a question was asked, it was regarded as irrelevant. Furthermore, in some cases, exams and papers were never returned; thus, feedback, an essential quality in higher learning, was largely neglected. Finally, it was quite clear that subjectivity influenced their distribution of marks, an unpardonable characteristic of a university professor.

As spiritual fathers, these professors failed in attracting students in this respect, for, as most of my fellow students remarked, 'they cannot be trusted'. This is a tragedy in our Church, for our faith is highly dependent upon establishing these relationships, and these professors appeared to flee this very important responsibility.

Although most of my comments have remained generalizations and appear quite sweeping, I have no qualms stating them, because I can easily provide concrete, specific examples in each case. There is no doubt in my mind, and I know I speak on behalf of my fellow students, that the decision of the Archbishop was based solely upon the best interests of the school, and that interest is to provide the students with the best possible education, one steeped in Orthodox tradition and faith. Since this was not occurring, the Archbishop exercised his right to reassign these professors. Any other reason that one may read or hear, such as 'unconstitutional practice', is an illusion, a figment of sour imaginations that want to conceal the real reasons for the reassignments - and these reasons are stated above.

Remaining yours in the Orthodox faith,
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Konstantinos Liadis

[ ALITHEIA-ΑΛΗΘΕΙΑ | www.alitheia.org/EV-HC.HTM  -  July 18, 1997 ]