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The National Herald - January 6, 2001

Phanar looks for ways to make charter rejection palatable

   By Theodore Kalmoukos

BOSTON -.  The newly drafted charter of the Archdiocese, which has already been submitted for discussion and approval to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, has been in essence "rejected" by the Phanar, highly placed ecclesiastical officials from the Patriarchate told The National Herald.

The sources said that the Phanar is now trying to come up with a formula that will make the rejection less "painful" for the Greek American community and will minimize negative reactions.

The new charter provides for a semiautonomous administrative status for the church in America (these provisions are contained specifically in articles 13 and 14) regarding the election of local Metropolitans as well as the selection of the three-person ballot, known as triprosopon, for the office of the Archbishop. At the same time, the charter also provides for the continuation of the canonical and ecclesiological status of the Archdiocese of America under the spiritual jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The new charter was drafted under the supervision and study of a special charter committee. It was then approved unanimously by the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese in four special meetings last year under the leadership of Archbishop Demetrios. The new charter has also been reviewed and unanimously approved by a broader representative committee of clergy and laity from each Diocese last May.

During the first meeting between the Patriarchate and the Archdiocesan charter committees that took place on December 1, 2000 at the Phanar, the representatives of the Patriarchate expressed reluctance to accept the proposed charter as the Herald revealed in its December 9-10, 2000 issue.

Another meeting is scheduled to be convened, also at the Phanar, on February 20-22. Well informed sources told the Herald that the Patriarchate is trying to come up with a formula "to convince the people of the Archdiocese of America that the proposed charter is not to their benefit."

In the plans of the Patriarchate is also the thought "to try to use Archbishop Demetrios' popularity and the wide respect and acceptance that he enjoys to convince the faithful in the U.S. that the new charter is against their interests," the high ranking ecclesiastical officials told the Herald.

But Demetrios was a vocal supporter of the draft charter during the last Clergy-Laity Congress in Philadelphia last July. In an effort to pacify of the delegates who anxiously wanted to see the charter he assured them that "It is a very good charter. Trust us," and promised to make its text available to the faithful in short order.

In case Demetrios refuses to follow Phanar's directions, the Patriarchate "is planning through articles in newspapers in Greece to exercise pressure on him by presenting him as uncooperative and the one who is trying to disassociate the Church of America from the Patriarchate."

It is believed that one of the plans the Phanar has under consideration is to procrastinate until some of the Metropolitans of the current Synod of America retire and are replaced by Patriarchate appointees who will tilt the will of the Synod in favor of the Phanar. "The magic word here is control," sources close to the Phanar told the Herald. It is not a coincidence that no bishop has been named for the Diocese of New Jersey more than a year after the death of the late Bishop George.

It is also possible that during the meeting of the charter committees in February the Patriarchal committee will present their own charter "completely different from the one the American committee has drafted, in another effort to buy time" the sources said.

It seems that the Patriarchate has misinterpreted the relative calm in the Church in America which is due to the personality of Archbishop Demetrios and his fruitful cooperation with his Synod. The Herald is in position to know that Archbishop Demetrios has made very clear to Patriarch Bartholomaios the growing discomfort of the people of the Church in America towards the Patriarchate because off the events of the last three years.

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The Herald has learned that there is a growing number of clergy and laity in this country that have begun to organize themselves against the prospect of rejection of the charter by the Patriarchate. They are also resolved that they are not to allow a repetition of the unfortunate selection to the Archdiocesan throne of a hierarch like former Archbishop Spyridon. The reason this group has not officially made its existence known is out of respect to the person of Archbishop Demetrios. It seems that everybody is waiting to see the results of the upcoming meeting in February.

Following is the text of the crucial Articles 13 and 14 of the draft charter:


ARTICLE 13 - Election of the Archbishop

The election of the Archbishop is the right of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, with the participation of the Eparchial Synod and the Council as follows:

Immediately following the vacancy of the office of the Archbishop, the Locum Tenens shall convene the Eparchial Synod for the purpose of establishing the Archdiocesan list of those who are eligible for the office of the Archbishop. This list is submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for approval. Following receipt of the approval list from the ecumenical Patriarchate by the Eparchial Synod, the advice of the Council is requested.

Forty (40) days following the vacancy, the Locum Tenens re-convenes the Eparchial Synod for the purpose of nominating three (3) persons for election to the office of Archbishop from the list of those eligible and approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate will elect the new Archbishop within ninety (90) days from the submission of the list of the three nominees in accordance with the holy canons of the Church.

A nominee for the office of the Archbishop shall be a person of deep faith, a Greek Orthodox Christian, a graduate of an academically recognized Orthodox School of Theology, have a fluent knowledge of spoken and written English and Greek, have proven ability in administration and pastoral work, be fully aware of ecclesiastical affairs of the Archdiocese and be totally committed to the preservation of unity within the Archdiocese as well as to the bond of unity with the Ecumenical Patriarchate. In addition, he shall not be less than thirty-five (35) of age and have a period of service in the Archdiocese on not less than ten (10) years.

Those fulfilling the above conditions are included in the catalogue of those eligible, regardless of the place of residence during the time of the election."


ARTICLE 14 - Election of the Metropolitan

The election of a Metropolitan is the province of the Eparchial Synod and accomplished according to the following order:

Immediately following the vacancy of the office of the Metropolitan, the Archbishop shall convene the Eparchial Synod for the purpose of establishing the list of eligible persons for the position of Metropolitan. The list thus established is submitted by the Eparchial Synod to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for approval. Following receipt of the approval list from the Ecumenical Patriarchate by the Eparchial Synod, the advice of the Council is requested.

Forty (40) days following the vacancy, the Archbishop re-convenes the Eparchial Synod for the purpose of nominating three (3) persons for election to the office of Metropolitan. The three persons nominees are taken from the approved Archdiocesan list of candidates as established above.

Form the list of three (3) nominees thus established, the Eparchial Synod will elect the new Metropolitan.

A nominee for the office of Metropolitan shall be a person of deep faith, a Greek Orthodox Christian, a graduate of an academically recognized or accredited Orthodox School of Theology, have a fluent knowledge of spoken and written English and Greek, and have a proven ability on administration and pastoral work. In addition, the nominee shall not be less than thirty five (35) years of age, and have had a period of preferably ten (10) years, but not less than five (5) years of service in the Archdiocese.

Those fulfilling the above conditions are candidates and are included in the catalogue of those eligible, regardless of place of residence during the time of the election."

[ Orthodox Truth | www.orthodox-truth.bugs3.com/art_41.html  -  January 6, 2001 ]