ERA 5 - January 13, 1999
Phanar Meeting Ends in Compromise
Patriarch Supports Spyridon
By Justine Frangouli
The last act of the Archdiocese crisis, played out yesterday
in a five-hour meeting of the US Hierarchy with the Patriarchate Holy Synod
and Patriarch Bartholomew in the chair, ended in compromise.
In fact, according to the Synod's press release, no powers were conceded to
the five Metropolitans in the end. Nevertheless, the synodical institution
is to be restored and re-activated in America, i.e. the Archbishop will see
to that the Eparchial Synod is regularly convened over issues of major importance
for the Archdiocese of America.
The Archbishop who took his stand on the letter of the Archdiocese Charter
in essence won the day. A committee will now be set up to interpret and examine
unclear points of the 1977 Charter currently under review. Furthermore, it
was decided that the individual differences the five Metropolitans have with
the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America should be discussed in
detail at the next session of the Eparchial Synod on January 25.
It is worth noting that the attack launched by the five Metropolitans on Archbishop
Spyridon was extremely vehement. In their joint 22 page "indictment"
the Metropolitans were very critical not only of the actions but also of the
person of the Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America. On the other
hand, the Archbishop did not consent that his own report on the activities
of the Metropolitans be read out publicly.
The five Metropolitans had asked for Spyridon's head on a plate, but
the Patriarch, counting the cost of the Archbishop's eventual removal,
stated in the end that the issue of replacing him does not arise and that
he stands in support of Spyridon. Naturally, in a gesture of reconciliation
between both sides, Patriarch Bartholomew urged both the Archbishop and the
Metropolitans to learn to work together constructively and to serve as a good
example to the laity.
The Holy Synod, moreover, decided that the three vacant US dioceses should
be filled as soon as possible through the consecration of three bishops, while
the Archdiocese Charter's revision should also be a matter of urgency.
In the evening, again in a spirit of reconciliation, the Patriarch of Constantinople
offered an official dinner in honor of the US Hierarchy and the journalists
covering the meeting. Also present at the dinner were Metropolitan Ioakeim
of Chalcedon and other hierarchs of the Throne.
A victory for compromise
In the last analysis, there are no victors from the confrontation
at the Phanar. The victory went to compromise. As far as perceptions go, all
sides were losers:
The Patriarch and the Synod, because they were forced to resort to arbitration
as they proved unable to effectively handle the crisis in America from the
Phanar, a crisis which would never have broken out if matters had been handled
by the Patriarchate in a more direct and timely manner.
Archbishop Spyridon, because he has been forced to re-activate the Eparchial
Synod and to take into account the Metropolitans' views on major issues,
while at the same time he must proceed with the revision of the Archdiocese
The five metropolitans, because they failed to achieve the removal of Spyridon,
to have their dioceses elevated to metropolitanates and to have a whole list
of other demands satisfied.
Finally, this last act of compromise was a victory for the logic of equilibriums.
[Translated from Greek]