GOA Vice Chairman Catsimatidis disagrees
with Archbishop Demetrios

A letter to Archbishop Demetrios


December 22, 1999

His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Your Eminence:

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a Merry Christmas in this new land you now call home.

I would also like to apologize for sounding so angry last week when we spoke about your new appointment, for I was genuinely upset about this, as was the majority of the Executive Committee.

For the past two years, I have refrained from criticizing anyone for disagreeing with policies, procedures or appointments. After all, this is America, the land of free speech. I do take exception, however, with people who in the recent past refused to engage in meaningful dialogue and discussion, but preferred instead to follow a scorched-earth policy.

I consider myself a Christian and a forgiving person, but I find it difficult to forgive people who have willfully committed wrong actions against the Church. My position has always been that the Church is a sacred institution, not to be moved or influenced by daily bickering.

Regardless of various disagreements or arguments among the laity and even the hierarchy, we must place the best interest of the Church and our people above all else.

So you must forgive me for taking exception to certain individuals whom intentionally, not accidentally, did whatever they felt was necessary to undermine and topple your predecessor, Archbishop Spyridon, even if it meant burning down the Church and our Archdiocese.

As a Church, we must certainly welcome all people, irrespective of their deeds. Individuals who have done deliberate harm to the Church should certainly be brought back into the Church (since the Church excludes no one), but they should not be rewarded, as this sets a bad connotation for the rest of the flock.

In the name of unity, the Church should welcome the participation of all, but in the name of decency, we must not compromise our integrity simply for the sake of unity.

For the most part, Your Eminence, the members of the Executive Committee, which serves not only the official offices of the Church, but also as your advisory panel, feel that we were completely left out of the decision-making process, as we were not asked for our input on many matters since your arrival to the Archdiocese.

We all understand that we were not appointed by you, and you have every right to appoint others whose decisions you might trust and respect more.

As our Archbishop, you are head of the Church in America. We will respect your decisions, and we will abide by them.

As we approach the end of this joyous season, on behalf of my family and myself, I again wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you.

With deep respect,
John A. Catsimatidis
Vice Chairman, Archdiocesan Council

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