ERA 5 - January 14, 1999
Reactions To Patriarch's Decision That Spyridon Should Stay
By Justine Frangouli
GOAL, "Patriarchal friends" and Metropolitans
The church pressure group known as GOAL (Greek American Orthodox
Leaders), as of Wednesday, has moved on to a personal attack upon the Ecumenical
Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew. It thus revealed in an undisguised
manner what has always been its real agenda: the removal of Archbishop Spyridon
of America by whatever means.
Immediately after the session of the Patriarchate Holy Synod last Tuesday,
GOAL, in a lengthy letter, launched a virulent attack upon Patriarch Bartholomew,
charging him with imposing Spyridon not for the good of the Church, but because
of his loyalty to the Patriarchal Throne. At the meeting, differences between
the five Metropolitans and the Archbishop of America were discussed, a peaceful
solution to the disputes was decided upon and it was resolved that Spyridon
should remain in office.
In its letter -headed "Black Tuesday"- GOAL goes so far as to
make dark insinuations about the circumstances in which the late Patriarch
At the same time, the so-called "Patriarchal friends," in order
to win the battle over perceptions, are preparing a strong attack on Patriarch
Bartholomew, because, the way they tell it, he did not replace Archbishop
Spyridon in spite of the fact that up to the last minute he had assured them
that he would do so.
The five Metropolitans are also compromised now in the eyes of public opinion.
From the beginning of their quarrel with the Archbishop they had brought GOAL
onto the scene of the crisis, contributing towards the pressure groups
main demand: the removal of Archbishop Spyridon. They pressed this demand
strongly at the Holy Synod meeting last Tuesday in Constantinople.
However, the five Metropolitans' group now presents a picture of division,
since Anthony (San Fransisco), Iakovos (Chicago) and Isaiah (Denver) have
decided to obey the orders of the Patriarchal Synod and find a jointly acceptable
solution to their demands at the next session of the Eparchial Synod on January
25. Nevertheless, Maximos (Pittsburgh) and Methodios (Boston) continue, it
seems, to take a hard line, with Maximos letting it be understood, according
to journalistic sources, that the letters sent in October had the Patriarchs
approval, who last Tuesday, in spite of this, left them out in the cold.
Conflicts at the top
In the light of such developments, the prospects for the Archdiocese
of America can only be described as somewhat ill-omened, at least for the
immediate future. GOAL and the former "Patriarchal friends" will
attempt through a barrage of attacks on the Patriarch and the Archbishop to
intensify the climate of crisis by using the much-discussed issue of autocephaly
as their spearhead.
Other circles, discontented by the decision that Spyridon will remain as Archbishop
of America, will put forward the argument that the Church of America must
join the jurisdiction of the Autocephalous Church of Greece --arguments which
likely to create friction not only on Archbishop Spyridon's upcoming
trip to Athens but also on the Patriarch's first official visit to Greece.
One thing is for sure: the current Archbishops dedicated opponents will
not back down easily. They will attempt to create an oppressive atmosphere
for the Patriarchate and continue to depict a picture of deepening crisis
in the Archdiocese of America.
As to the Archbishop himself, he has already agreed to discuss with the Metropolitans
about their demands, to go ahead with a revision of the Archdiocese Charter,
and, should there be difference of opinions, to accept the Phanar's intervention.
Archbishop Spyridon, in a spirit of reconciliation towards all parties, plans
to meet with the individual groups who have expressed dissidence.
Nevertheless, the great mass of Greek Americans play no part at all in these
events and follow at a distance this high level conflict of forces. Will it
perhaps not be this peaceful Christian flock that in the end will be called
upon to pay the price for the conflicting interests of an Archdiocese elite?
Message of unity from Archdiocesan Council President John Catsimatidis
Meanwhile, in a message of support to both Archbishop Spyridon
and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, John Catsimatidis, President of the
Archdiocesan Council, has voiced the need to achieve unity and solidarity
within the Church in America.
Mr Catsimatidis noted that His All-Holiness the Patriarch has indicated that
Archbishop Spyridon is to lead the Church of America into the new millennium
and that all should be ready to meet the challenges of our times.
"Our Church opens her embrace," said the Archdiocesan Council President,
"to welcome all without criticism, with the sacred love of Christ as
an example. Come, let us clear the air and make a new start."
[Translated from Greek]