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Spyridon.ws - 2002

A First Taste

A first as well as a last taste of the book are registered on this page so that the reader may form a full picture out of the decoded messages of an Archbishop's story, who chose "total withdrawal and isolation" instead of compromising with an adamant establishment.

Click on the titles that follow to come closer to the institutions, personalities and interests intertwined during the three years of Spyridon's tenure. Their single stories compose an adventure that wounded deeply not only the Church of America but the Greek American community in its entirety.

The remaining pages are awaiting you, indelibly printed in The Lonely Path of Integrity which you can purchase at the bookstores indicated at the end of this website.

So, let us proceed together towards a first taste (On The Book's Trail) and a last one (Alone and Uncompromising), towards a prologue and an epilogue!

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On The Book's Trail

The Lonely Path of Integrity is not merely an authorized biography of Archbishop Spyridon, an overview of his "works and days", as they unfolded during his tumultuous three-year ministry (1996-1999) at the helm of the Church of America.

On Holy Thursday at Holy Trinity
Cathedral in New York (April 8, 1999)

More than a simple portrayal of a religious leader, who from an early age was destined for the cloth, the book endeavors to shed light on the journey of a child who was born in America, grew up in Greece, was educated in Europe, and served the Church for 25 years in Switzerland and Italy as a cleric of the Ecumenical Patriarchate before coming full circle and ending up in his native America as Archbishop.

A careful reading of his multifaceted life and ecclesiastical career reveals a man who brought luster to the Orthodox Church in Italy and America as he strove to preserve Byzantine Orthodox tradition and to ensure the survival of Hellenism in the Diaspora. He lived by and ultimately fell defending the banner of "Orthodoxy-Hellenism," intertwined notions on whose axis his turbulent career was doomed to turn.

The book attempts to take a judicious, well-documented look at the personality of a church leader assailed by exponents of an arrogant conception of church governance. It dispels the illusion that the Greek-American community could emerge unscathed from the incessant manipulation by the back rooms of power.

This biography focuses mostly on Spyridon's three-year ministry, from the rise to the fall of the fifth Archbishop of America. From his very enthronement, it became evident that his tenure bore an "expiry date." The heightened interest in this Archbishop arises from the role he was destined to play in events unique in the Orthodox Church's centuries-old history, events that presaged the future of the Greek-American community.

The frenetic schemes originating from Orthodoxy's center in Constantinople wounded not only the Church of America but also the whole Greek American community.

Archbishop Spyridon and the members
of the Holy Eparchial Synod

The ousting of two Archbishops, Iakovos and Spyridon, from the Archdiocese of America within a span of three years is unprecedented in the annals of the Greek Orthodox Church. These developments ultimately throw into question the very foundations of her polity, structure, and canon practice.

The strategy used for the removal of both church leaders was also unparalleled. Far from yielding to pressure, the Phanar instigated the events.

The tactics that divided the Greeks of America into factions lay the Ecumenical Patriarchate open to charges of neo-papism. This has caused nearly irreparable harm to relations between Greek Orthodox and other Orthodox communities.

All during Archbishop Spyridon's tempestuous three years in office, power brokers spun a web of Byzantine intrigue. Their machinations spread through the Phanar involving Metropolitans, priests, laypersons, Greek-American media, and major Greek and American newspapers.

Patriarchate cohorts in America played a decisive role in concocting and disseminating a crisis throughout the Church of America and indeed throughout the entire Greek-American community. Later, the Greek Government, aces up its sleeve, entered the scene.

Thus, the game quickly took on the color of money and power. It permeated the Church's relations with the Patriarchate, the Greek State, the clergy in America, and prominent Greek-Americans, threatening the unity of Orthodoxy and Hellenism in America.

The clergy regarded the restoration of the Orthodox Byzantine tradition in the Archdiocese of America as the thin end of the wedge. Equally, the Archbishop's intent to redefine Greek American identity in order to safeguard Hellenism in the American melting pot alarmed the champions of the Americanization of Orthodoxy -a movement that peaked in the 1970s with the introduction of English into the Divine Liturgy.

The upshot of the three-year struggle was the consolidation of the autocephalous movement in the Church of America, the revival of partisanship among Greek Americans, the marginalization of the vital issues facing this community and the now firmly entrenched belief that the Patriarchate aims at all costs to diminish the role of the Archbishop of America.

Archbishop Spyridon, now withdrawn from active ministry, has consented to put on record -through his notes, diary, and archives- the dramatic triennium, which has left an indelible mark on Hellenism in America.

Sources for the recording and assessment of the events include the Archbishop himself, people closely associated with him on a personal or professional level, the Greek-American and Greek media, as well as the American press, and finally the author's personal experience from witnessing the events as a journalist. & $

Alone and Uncompromising

Spyridon's resignation from America's Archiepiscopal see in the summer of 1999 brought to a close a dramatic phase in the history of the Church and the Greek-American community. Both Church and community were blatantly exploited to serve the narrow purposes of the Phanar.

With Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
when skies were still cloudless
(Constantinople, 1998)

In this tumultuous three-year period, the institutions were subjugated to the interests of a small, but influential group within the Archdiocese of America. In reality, its actions served to mask the Phanar's thirst for absolute control over the Throne's largest and wealthiest eparchy.

The methods used to topple Iakovos were employed against Spyridon, with Iakovos this time serving as an additional weapon. Avenging his removal from the Throne, Iakovos derived some satisfaction by plotting against the man his nemesis Bartholomew had chosen as the new Archbishop of America.

The protagonists in the repeat performance were the "friends of the Patriarch." When they saw that Spyridon would not do their bidding, they once again resorted to systematic and remorseless attacks. Every tactic was employed to undermine the Archbishop; every ethical code was violated. Today, comfortably ensconced in their administrative posts after their restoration to power, they hold the reins of the Archdiocese, offering their good services to the Phanar.

The pawns in this cruel game were the Metropolitans. In their blind desire to augment their own powers, they were driven to fabricate rebellion and discord. Following Spyridon's downfall, they ended up stagnant in their dioceses, unable to usurp the authority of the Archiepiscopal Throne.

Accessories in this venture were the priests and the small-time players of America's Church, recruited to bring about a chain of factitious crises to depict the Greek-American community as torn by division. They were content with their small rewards: words of praise and the illusory satisfaction that they were powerful enough to oust an Archbishop.

The fomenters of the simulated crisis and the organizers of extra-ecclesiastical structures were the "offended" faction at Holy Cross School of Theology, who feared that their control over theological education was threatened. Immediately reinstated after Spyridon's resignation, they have not, as yet, fully recovered.

Also mobilized in the war against the Archbishop were the advocates of autocephaly and America's "anti-Patriarchal" circles, hoping for complete independence from the Phanar. The proposed draft of the Archdiocese's new Charter, anticipating a semi-autonomous status similar to that of Crete, is the first step towards this objective.

In the struggle's final stage, a number of Greek government players came on board. Apparently, they realized the World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE) was losing ground in America to a new spiritual leader who, based on his vested rights, was building the future of the Greek-American community.

Throughout the stormy period, the Greek-American newspaper The National Herald offered its loud support for every simulated crisis. As contrived leaks poured onto the presses from the backrooms of power, the paper's scare headlines strengthened the anti-Spyridon war of attrition, just as they had against Iakovos. Today resting on its laurels, The National Herald criticizes the Phanar and propagandizes for the autocephalous movement in the Church of America.

The upshot of this stormy three-year tenure was the election of Demetrios. Giving up many of his powers, he has granted the backrooms of power carte blanche in administering the Archdiocese, fully complying with the Mother Church's commands even though he is merely her adoptive son.

This unbelievable setting of intrigue, where power games, political expediencies, personal ambitions, financial interests, and vindictive acts were intermingled, irreparably damaged the Greek Orthodox Church's prestige and signaled her irrevocable decline.

In the White House's courtyard following a meeting with President Clinton. The Archbishop's involvement in the Kossovo issue in March 1999 had discomforted the Greek government...

The Patriarchate was exposed beyond repair. The facts clearly revealed that it had unscrupulously conducted trench warfare to force, by whatever means, the resignation of an Archbishop it had unanimously elected three years earlier.

The Greek-American community was exploited at the risk of being divided. With great distress, it witnessed the collapse of its institutions for the benefit of organized interests.

The Church of America's unity was irreversibly shaken by the Bishops' elevation to Metropolitans and the reinforcement of their craving for power.

Discussion of vital Diaspora issues was deferred to a "more adequate time." The changing of the guard at the Archdiocese halted the entire promotion of Hellenic national issues and Greek education in the United States.

Finally, Spyridon was vilified, both as an Archbishop and a man, by unrelenting mud slinging over the entire course of his tenure. His enemies, in an effort to oust him from office, denied all his virtues: his love of work, his effectiveness, his multifaceted education, and his vision for the future of Orthodoxy and Hellenism in America.

When with remarkable dignity, he withdrew from the scene in August 1999, he forever left behind an Archdiocese whose long decline he had attempted to reverse...

[ Spyridon.ws - www.spyridon.ws/EN/first_taste.html - 2002 ]
[ Spyridon.ws - www.spyridon.ws/EN/booktrail.html - 2002 ]
[ Spyridon.ws - www.spyridon.ws/EN/alone.html - 2002 ]