hellenic times - June 11-24, 1999
LETTER TO THE PUBLISHER
Dear Mr. Catsimatidis:
I must commend you for taking a very positive and productive stand on the problems confronting our Archdiocese.
During the past year I had read many accusations and statements concerning Archbishop Spyridon. Because of their disrespectful tones and venomous comments, I find it hard to believe that these people are Christians, yet they even label themselves as Orthodox leaders, seeming to forget that there is a spiritual realm to the church.
First, I would like to know who has given them the authority to call themselves Orthodox leaders? It is as absurd as an engineer, no matter how qualified he is in his profession, calling himself a medical doctor. Certainly only a fool would accept such a fallacy and entrust his or her condition to such a person.
Second, if they cannot recognize and accept the spiritual authority of our church, and if whatever rights they claim are according to the values of secular society, then the only way they can be confronted is with secular laws. They cannot, and should not, have it both ways. They cannot expect Christian charity when their own words and actions are abhorrent and perhaps even legally accountable.
Throughout all this, Archbishop Spyridon has demonstrated exemplary integrity and conducted himself as a true Christian. He has responded to hatred with love; to arrogance with humility; and to falsehoods with truth.
He has shown by his actions that he does not differentiate between people because of their station in life. He has limited his income to an acceptable amount and has tried to direct more towards church needs.
His English diction is impeccable and his vocabulary is awe-inspiring when interviewed by journalists of other denominations. It is especially impressive when you take into account his excellent command of Greek (spanning ancient to modern), as well as his fluency in French, German and Italian.
That many people, within and without the Church are envious and feel threatened by Archbishop Spyridon's formidable intellectual and spiritual attributes, can be understandable, for we all are human. That they would stoop to slander, either intentionally lying or by deceitfully arousing suspicion, is not. For them to rationalize their actions by believing them to be political, especially within the context of the Church, would be totally ridiculous if it were not so totally evil.
When they state that Archbishop Spyridon is not charismatic, they are reducing our Church to a popularity contest. Jesus and all the saints would have lost that contest a thousandfold, for they were all persecuted.
When they say His Eminence has a temper, they seem to forget that Jesus and the saints had tempers, for they all
demonstrated righteous indignation over the lack of human comprehension.
When they speak of financial misuse, it is merely a reflection of the moral inadequacies and weaknesses of those who say them, as well as of those who are willing to listen and accept what they say.
Through their ignorance, these people misrepresent themselves as Orthodox. They forget that to be an Orthodox, one must be a Christian, and to be a Christian, one must accept the Church as the body of Christ. It is not a political entity to be used as a convenient forum for each individual's personal agenda.
Today, we are experiencing an upheaval, for it appears that we are going through a reverse reformation. Martin Luther tried to reform certain practices within the Roman Catholic Church. Many broke away in the process. Archbishop Spyridon is trying to reform certain practices within our Church and those who had benefited from the previous status quo are opposing him by continuously fostering dissension... hoping that some churches will break away.
The Roman Catholic Church sold indulgences in order to forgive sins so that the hierarchy in Rome could satisfy its self-serving interests. The Orthodox Church here has pampered the egos of the affluent for the same self-serving reasons. It has appeased the conscience of many of the money givers and comforted them by adopting, or appearing to adopt, liberal theological ideas. Is it any wonder that we have been subjected to the most destructive and vicious lies imaginable? These people conveniently forget that no one has the authority, whether through lies or out and out slander, to control and hinder another's God-given creative and productive potential, especially when the work involves a shepherd and his responsibility towards his flock.
Today many of these protestant churches started by Martin Luther's reformation are losing millions of devout Christians a year because they had adopted our society's liberal theological concepts. These same concepts are the ones embraced and practiced by many of Archbishop Spyridon's opponents. If the Holy Spirit enabled devout Orthodox to embrace such concepts, won't our Church then cease to be Orthodox?
[ hellenic times - June 11-24, 1999 - p. 4 ]