Alitheia-Αλήθεια - July 14, 1997
[ A Letter to the Editor of The Boston Globe and Deigo Kibadeneira ] *)
To: Editor of The Boston Globe and Deigo Ribadeneira.
Re: Deigo Kibadeneira's article on Hellenic College dated 7/10/97, Metro/Region section.
As always, there are two sides to each story. Your article on the "firing" of three professors and the president at Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology presents one side of the story, that of the President and the other three professors, one which I may say contains many inaccuracies as well.
I have been a theological student at the Holy Cross (hereafter the "School") for the last two years and am familiar with this incident and many more during that time. Further, as an attorney having practiced law for ten years before attending the School, I have been consulted by students and professors for legal advice regarding the actions of the President and these (as well as other) professors which they have taken against said students and professors during the last two years. As such, I have what I believe to be a. fairly accurate picture of what is going on at the School.
To begin with, each of the professors that your article mentions, (President Calivas and the other three) are first and foremost priests in the Church. As such, each one of them wears two hats (priest and then professor). Now they will be the first to tell you that their first obedience, one which is the foundation of their priestly office, is to the Church and its spiritual leader, Archbishop Spyridon. That is, it is a prerequisite of their ordination. As such, their first loyalty is to the Church and the Archbishop - their priestly duties and obedience take precedence over their teaching careers. Teaching credentials, recognition and experience are not what make an Orthodox priest at our School. First and foremost is obedience to the Archbishop and the fulfillment of the priestly obligations as set forth in the Church's Holy Tradition, canons, etc. Having said this, let me address the specifics of your article.
None of the professors that you referred to as being "fired" where in fact fired. As to Fr. Clapsis, it is my understanding that he is being reassigned to a full-time parish which will not allow him to teach. Further, Fr. Clapsis is a non-tenured professor whose contract is from year to year. Thus, at the end of each School year, he does not have a contract with the School, It must be renewed. "Failure to renew" does not amount to a "firing" for this term carries with it specific legal consequences whereas the former does not.
Nor has Fr. Stylianopoulos been fired. The Archbishop has determined that the needs of the Church require that Fr. Stylianopoulos be reassigned to another community in a full time capacity. Thus, he is in the process of being reassigned to serve at a full-time parish. This is not unusual in the history of our Church. It was done by the former Archbishop lakovos (Archbishop Spyridon's predecessor). Although he is a tenured professor, his reassignment is not a "firing." As mentioned above, as a result of his priestly vocation, his membership on the faculty is subject to, and conditioned upon, the fulfillment of his duties and requirements as a priest as determined by his spiritual superior, Archbishop Spyridon.
Neither has Fr. Calivas been fired. He is still employed as a. professor at the School but has been asked by the Archbishop to resign as President (something which he is refusing to do).
The incident of "alleged" sexual misconduct and subsequent cover up which these professors claim is the basis of their "firings," is completely false. As mentioned above, the President and the two professors were not fired. Second, there was no "cover up" involved in the appeal process (i.e. review arid decision of the appeal from the accused student/priest to the former dean, Fr. George Dragas). First, the entire "investigation" process was deficient. Second, the disciplinary committee's finding was based upon hearsay evidence - there were no eye witnesses to the event. Further, members of the disciplinary committee pressured certain students to make these allegations against the student/priest. Also, pressure was put on Fr. Dragas to prevent him from conducting an independent review of the case and he was "warned" about coming up with a decision which did not agree with the disciplinary committee's findings. When he refused to do so (by conducting an independent investigation as he is required to do), these professors (excluding Fr. Papademetriou) attempted to manipulate the entire appeal process which followed despite the fact that the Student Handbook clearly sets out the required
As a lawyer, I was shocked to see such a blatant and willful disregard of the entire process by four "seasoned professors" who are "highly respected among their colleagues." However, time and the attorney-client privilege do not permit me to detail their abuses in this matter, Suffice it to say that Fr. Dragas did the right thing - he put a stop to their attempt to black ball several students and priests who were at this gathering. He has exposed these "highly respected" professors for what they have done (or are attempting to do). The story which they are giving to the press is factually inaccurate and is merely their attempt to "cover up" their wrongdoing in this incident as well as to punish Fr. Dragas (who since his employment with the School has been opposing their misconduct).
The basis of the action of these professors in sensationalizing this incident and then going public with it is strictly retaliatory. They are reacting to the Greek student/priests involved who had written a letter to the Synod of Greek Orthodox Bishops which criticized these faculty members for, among other things, their poor spiritual leadership and watered-down Orthodox teachings. This letter was somehow leaked out to the Greek press. Although true, this obviously caused embarrassment to these priests who then set out to find a way to expel these Greek student/priests and anyone associated with them (all of the students who were given notices of expulsion or other disciplinary notices are from Greece which shows as open anti-Greek sentiment). A further motivation for their actions is their open disagreement and opposition with the Mother Church and Archbishop Spyridon. In fact, the appointment of Fr. Calivas as President was in violation of the School's required procedure and without Patriarchal approval. Thus, this "cover up" story of the professor's is nothing more than their attempt to distract as well as confuse the public and the Church members who are not aware of, or privy to, the true facts in these matters.
Additionally, I personally spoke to the student/priest who is being accused of the alleged sexual misconduct as well as several other students and student/priests who were in attendance at the social gathering, The accused student/priest has told me nothing to support the allegations against him. Further, the two individuals involved in the incident have apparently resolved their differences between themselves.
I realize that this letter is long but I ask that you print it in your paper. If you are unable to print it in its entirety, please feel free to "shorten" it to meet your paper's requirements. If you wish to contact me for further details, please feel free to contact me at (414) 771-0779.
Alitheia-Αλήθεια | www.alitheia.org/EP-LT-k2.HTM - July 14, 1997 ]
*) A letter never published by "The Boston Globe"