The National Herald - April 29, 2010

Archbishop Demetrios on the Way Out?

   By Theodore Kalmoukos

BOSTON- At 83 years old and beleaguered by a raft of questions about his ability to keep leading, Archbishop Demetrios may leave his position at the Archbishopric Throne of America, it emerged after intense discussions at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, where he traveled unannounced, as well as among prominent Greek-American leaders who want him retained. The National Herald was unable to reach him at press time.

Those familiar with the issue attribute the possible development to his age the constant accumulation of various unresolved problems under his tenure recently.

Sources said it was believed at the Patriarchate that these questions have stagnated the ecclesial life of the Archdiocese of America. TNH also has learned that a group of prominent Greek Americans do not agree with the possibility of Archbishop Demetrios leaving his post and threatened to stop all financial and other support to the Ecumenical Patriarchate if he does not stay.

The speculation about a possible exodus were re-enforced after his meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou and the Deputy Minister of State Dimitris Droutsas in Athens on April 27. The Archbishop's statement to The National Herald after the meeting that he discussed "issues that concern him" intensified even more the reports his departure is being arranged, especially after his visit to Constantinople.

The discussion became more intense after the last visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to the United States for an ecological symposium about the environment and the cleaning of the Mississippi river which coincided with the Archbishop's 10 year anniversary as head of the church in America. TNH has learned that despite Bartholomew's public praise and congratulatory remarks about the Archbishop, upon his return to the Phanar, the Patriarch said that "We have problems in America." Senior Metropolitan Athanasios of Chalcedon enforced the Patriarch's view as well. Metropolitan Athanasios was a member of the Patriarchal entourage at the US visit.

Patriarchal officials were said to have blamed Archbishop Demetrios with a "lack of administrative competency" and "inability" to control the "honorary Metropolitans" although he has jurisdiction over the Archdiocese of America and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Metropolitans hold honorary status, a strange combination of auxiliary Bishops and titular Metropolitans while Archbishop Demetrios is commemorated as "shepherd" (ποιμενάρχης) at the Liturgy when visiting the local Metropolises.

Savas the Successor?

Although Archbishop Demetrios did not discuss the issue of his possible departure, TNH also learned that previously, and in recent days and at Patriarchate during his visit, he indicated that he wanted Bishop Savas of Troas, his former Chancellor, to be his successor saying that "He is capable and his confidant and he will continue his work." The reason that Archbishop Demetrios relieved Bishop Savas from his duties as Chancellor was reportedly to protect him as Savas was said to be creating constant problems with various parishes and their councils.

But Patriarch Bartholomew, on the suggestion of Rev. Alex Karloutsos, seemed to favor Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, a graduate of Holy Cross Theological School in Boston, to be the successor. The Patriarch has assigned the role of "Secretary of State" of the Phanar to Metropolitan Emmanuel ,sending him to various assignments everywhere in the world and constantly projecting him. He was also a member of Bartholomew's entourage during his last visit to the US.

Metropolitan Emmanuel, knowing the huge responsibility of the Archbishopric Throne of America, said he didn't want the job. Rev. Karloutsos, who appears and acts as some type of an "unofficial Archbishop" in America because of his nearness with Patriarch Bartholomew, has taken on the task to convince Metropolitan Emmanuel to accept it. The current government of Greece also reportedly favors Metropolitan Emmanuel's candidacy. {Karloutsos was also instrumental in the election of the former Archbishop Spyridon.

The reason that Archbishop Demetrios traveled to the Ecumenical patriarchate was primarily to discuss with Patriarch Bartholomew and Patriarch Theofilos of Jerusalem the issue of the Orthodox Palestinian parishes of the US, especially in the California area, which were turned over to the Archdiocese by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and will accept no other leader. Patriarch Bartholomew discussed with Archbishop Demetrios various issues of the Archdiocese including the upcoming Synaxis of all the canonical Bishops in America and Canada on May 26. Patriarch Bartholomew appears to be angry with Archbishop Demetrio's decision to include the OCA (former Russian Metropolia,) to which the Patriarchate of Moscow gave autocephalous ecclesiastical status which is not recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate despite the clear directive of Patriarch Bartholomew not to include them. Archbishop Demetrios claims it was included by mistake, but Fr. Mark Arey, Director of Interchurch Relations, gave a different explanation.

There are hierarchs at the Phanar who fear that such a Synaxis convened with the knowledge if not the directive of the Patriarchate, could get out of control and develop into some type of an ecclesiastical coup for the creation of an American Orthodox Autocephalous Church, similar to that attempted by the late Archbishop Iakovos at the Ligonier on Pennsylvania in 1994 which became the beginning of the end of his Archbishopric tenure.

[ Orthodox Truth |  -  April 29, 2010 ]