Hellenic Times, February 7, 2003
Our Church and Archbishop
By John Catsimatidis
February 7, 2003, (HT) -- Archbishop Spyridon made his first
high-profile trip back to New York City to inaugurate a new foundation named in
his honor on February 1.
The event, which was held at Flushing's Terrace
On The Park, drew some 1,200 people, and the Archbishop Spyridon Foundation For
Hellenic Education And Culture pledged its first gift in the amount of $100,000
to Socrates Day School in Canada.
This school teaches thousands of
students in Montreal, Quebec not only English and French, the official languages
of Quebec, but also Greek, thereby ensuring that its students become
tri-lingual, and was the source of inspiration for forming the new
The National Herald, which published many negative reports
while Archbishop Spyridon was still Archbishop of America from 1996 to 1999, has
also published several stories about his recent visit.
One story in
particular pointed out that Archbishop Spyridon's official ecclesiastical title
is "Former Metropolitan of Chaldia," a now-defunct see in Asia Minor which His
Eminence never served (it was an assignment he was offered after resigning as
Archbishop of America, but it was an assignment he declined).
American, and as a member of the Church, I find the National Herald's vigorous
attempts to reduce Archbishop Spyridon's ecclesiastical rank in the public's
eyes to be distasteful.
Canonical procedures and how they are practiced
or imposed notwithstanding, Archbishop Spyridon was Archbishop of America for
three years. The Archdiocese of America was his last active assignment, and any
attempt to erase his memory is not only disconcerting, it is ignoble.
Archbishop of America, he made some administrative mistakes, but as I told His
All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew directly in July of 1999, His
Eminence was not guilty of anything other than being unfamiliar with American
customs and politics when he first began his tenure here.
Spyridon was born in the United States, but he came back to America after having
served in Europe for many years. He had been away for a very long time before he
was enthroned Archbishop of America in September of 1996.
His lack of
familiarity with the American political landscape caused him to unintentionally
tread on the egos of powerful and influential Greek Americans, but when you
tread on Americans, Americans tend to bite back. And that's exactly what
happened, as one unfortunate misunderstanding led to another.
happening now, in fact.
The matter of Archbishop Spyridon's pension
remains unresolved, for example, but this is a matter which should be put to
rest ethically and peacefully. I must report that I am currently working on an
acceptable resolution for this issue with Michael Jaharis, Vice Chairman of the
Archdiocesan Council. Hopefully, it will be resolved soon.
If it was
promised, then it should be done.
In the same report cited above, the
National Herald also stated that, by serving the Foundation which bears his
name, Archbishop Spyridon has a hidden agenda.
58 years of age, His Eminence is still relatively young, and he still has much
to offer. He reluctantly retired after serving the Church for 31 years. If he
chooses to go down another path to advance the preservation of Hellenism and
enhance the mission of Greek Orthodoxy, we should all wish him well and
congratulate rather than criticize him.
In my heart, I know our Church
stands for love and forgiveness. I remember when my own children were baptized.
During the baptismal service, the godparent renounces Satan on behalf of the
child, so I am proposing that those who consider Archbishop Spyridon a threat
should renounce hatred.
None of us should go to church and simply preach
love and forgiveness. We should practice it, as