"The Greek American" - May 23, 1998
An Open Letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
Upon the Occasion of His Upcoming Visit
Proini - May 22, 1998
Proini warmly welcomes you to the United States with the respect
due to you and the institution that you serve. The Ecumenical Patriarchate
was, is, and will be that which sustains Orthodoxy and protects the Greek
Your visit to this country, the second in a period of seven months,
comes at a critical moment for Hellenism in the United States. For some
time now, the vigor of Greek American community has been compromised by
the conflict that surrounds the Archdiocese of America. Our community is
in jeopardy of being divided even as the Ecumenical Patriarchate takes
steps to foster greater unity, such as accepting the monastery of St. Irene
into its fold.
The unjustified personal attacks that some have hurled toward Archbishop
Spyridon threaten to divide the community into two or even three separate
camps. Although these attacks come from a small minority, it is one that
takes advantage of its economic and social status to make its presence
Opposite these people stand faithful Christians and defenders of Hellenism
who stand by the Archbishop. Their support is based not only on a love
for him but also their appreciation for the institution that he represents.
These people have responded to this campaign against the Archbishop with
But little by little, as more accusations and so-called revelations
are made against the Archbishop, a polarization is created within the community.
The majority of Greek Americans, those people who have untiringly worked
to build our community, are being pushed to take a stand against those
who criticize the Archbishop. While this may be what was intended, this
polarization could lead to the break-up of Hellenism in this country.
During this entire time, Archbishop Spyridon has pressed on in the name
of unity. And Proini has stood by his side ever since the first
attacks surfaced, recognizing in him the importance of the institution
he serves. Proini as a champion of Hellenism and Orthodoxy is dedicated
to preserving the unity of the community.
Some among us see what is happening to Archbishop Spyridon as a repeat
performance of the trials that led to the resignation of Archbishop Iakovos.
The scenario is different but the director and the actors are the same
in this encore performance. Lately, even the well-known attorney Simos
Dimas, who used to work closely with the Archbishop Spyridon, has turned
to the press to condemn his former employer. Perhaps it is for some easy
to find fault with the Archbishop, Father Alex Karloutsos, or Chancellor
George Passias. But there are also those who are beginning to wonder if
the Ecumenical Patriarchate is to blame.
Aside from whether this question is justified or not, it stems from
the confusion that has enveloped the Archdiocese. And the following unanswered
questions speak to this confusion.
How is it possible for Father Alex, whom you know well and who supported
the enthronement of Archbishop Spyridon, to now find it impossible to work
with the Archbishop?
How can people such as Simos Dimas, who conducted the legal work required
for the admission for St. Irene to the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
now come out against the Archbishop?
How can Mr. Dimas, who is devoted to you, now oppose the Archbishop
whom you selected and blessed? These are the only questions that sway the
trust of the community.
Greek Americans expect from you to show them that the Mother Church
rejects the machinations of those who seek to divide them. They expect
you to clearly indicate your support for the Archbishop, the Archdiocese,
and the unity of the Greek American community. They are awaiting for you
to condemn those who work against the good of the community, the good of
the Church, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
* This letter first appeared in the May 22 issue of Greek-language
[ EKKLISIA | www.ekklisia.org/etyp-5-23.htm - May 23, 1998 ]