Eleftherotypia (Sunday Edition) - June 20, 1999
Checks behind the Throne
Dollars to the Phanar from Archbishop Spyridon's Adversaries Plane Away his See
By Justine Frangouli
This summer will see rapid developments in the Archdiocese
of America as Patriarch Bartholomew appears to have reviewed the decision
made last January to retain Archbishop Spyridon in his Archiepiscopal chair.
Already, pressures for change have led to the resignation of the Archdiocese
Chancellor, Protopresbyter Fr. George Passias, who has long been regarded
as a "black sheep" by Patriarchate circles.
The decisive factor in the change of policy appears to have been a $1,000,000
check which the Phanar recently received from an influential Greek-American,
Alex Spanos, for the purchase of a Patriarchal residence, at the price of
$1.3 million. Two additional contributions of $100,000 and $200,000 were given
by magnate Michael Jaharis who pledged to make further donations. These gestures
seem to have convinced Patriarchate circles that Archbishop Spyridon is cut
off from Greek-American financial circles.
It is worth noting that the bearer of the checks was Fr Alex
Karloutsos, a former supporter, and now opponent of the Archbishop. It is
the same man who, though for many years a right-hand man of former Archbishop
Iakovos, in the end orchestrated the latter's removal.
At the same time, the views on Greek National issues frequently voiced by
Archbishop Spyridon seem to have disturbed the Patriarchate or to have put
it in a difficult position.
The Archbishop who has faced constant difficulties during the two and a half
years of his ministry, thought that he had won the game over perceptions during
the January crisis.
On his return from Constantinople, he attempted to restore relations with
his five Metropolitans (with whom there had been a clash in October); he avoided
open conflicts with the pressure group called GOAL (Greek Orthodox American
Leaders); visited discontented parishes and succeeded in toning down opposition.
The only thorn in the flesh remaining is the Diocese of Boston, where the
local Clergy-Laity Congress recently passed a resolution against him.
The Archbishop's first official visit to Greece brought him close to PASOK's
leaders with whom he has had a few differences in the past.
Today, however, the issue of Archbishop Spyridon's replacement has unexpectedly
returned to the forefront with a vengeance in spite of the fact that he has
become deeply involved in the advancement of Greek National issues and is
reported to be on his way towards restructuring Greek education especially
after the research completed by the Rassias Commission on the survival of
Hellenism in America.
The Phanar is said to have earmarked for his successor the Metropolitan of
Hong Kong, Nikitas. According to those who support his candidacy, Metropolitan
Nikitas combines an American outlook (as a graduate of Holy Cross School of
Theology) with the approval of the influential Fr Alex Karloutsos.
[Translated from Greek]