Alitheia-Αλήθεια - July 11, 1997

[ A Letter to the Editor of The Boston Globe ]  *)

To the Editor of The Boston Globe:

As a student of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, I am compelled to respond to Diego Ribadeneira's story (7-10-97) because there is another perspective that should be considered by your readers:

How could four long-time members of Holy Cross get dismissed simply because of an isolated incident (one that has been blown way out of proportion, incidentally)? Would it not be a little peculiar if people got fired for doing the "right thing?" Does it not occur to anyone that those who claim they did the right thing are disgruntled priests who have been reassigned? And might there not be more substantive reasons for their reassignment?

Holy Cross is not only an accredited academic institution. It is also an extension of the Greek Orthodox Church. It is where young men are trained for the priesthood. To treat it as something other than the Church itself would be a mistake. This is the error the so-called "seasoned professors highly respected among their colleagues" have committed.

As a friend of the two students principally involved with the alleged scandal, I can assure you that the reassigned faculty members are trying to cause a wave of sensationalism. The two students had settled their differences among themselves which, by the way, were not of a sexual nature as it is alleged. They and some of their friends became the victims of the same people who now try to pretend that they are only trying to resolve a situation that was already resolved. These people should be ashamed of themselves, but what else can we expect of priests who would rather be recognized as secular professors instead of serving the Church?

What these "highly respected" professors did, as it is reported by the students themselves, was to intimidate and bully the students involved into making statements that the students themselves did not want to make. Why would they do such a thing, you may ask? It turns out that two of the students accused of wrongdoing are priests who had written a letter to the Synod of Greek Orthodox Bishops, calling the former faculty members to task for failing to uphold Greek Orthodox standards. This letter was leaked out to the Greek press.

The reassigned priests then set out to defame the accused priests, looking for an excuse to get them thrown out of school. In the process, the former woefully violated school policies, as set forth in the school's Student Handbook, which contains the official procedures regarding student matters at Holy Cross.

The students themselves made an appeal to Dean Fr. George Dragas (a world-renowned scholar in theological circles), who upheld their appeal. This all took place according to official procedures, in spite of attempts by President Alkiviadis Calivas and the Disciplinary Committee to circumvent the Dean, and to redefine the provisions for appeal. Does it not strike you as odd that a disciplinary committee (a lower court, so to speak) would reject the Dean's ruling (a higher court) and uphold its own recommended expulsion on June 20, a decision that was made irregularly when it was originally decided?

Seriously, the sort of incident that my former professors are making the focal point of their argument occurs quite commonly on the campuses of many schools. The true story is not about a grave moral issue, however. It is about a group of demagogues who are not really that good at teaching and have been mistreating students. They are "highly respected" only among themselves, and most of my fellow students privately concur, but they are afraid to speak out because they are firsthand witnesses of the bullying tactics I described above. Why do I dare speak out? Because it makes me ill to see them acting like they care about the school and the welfare of its students.

As to President Calivas' statement that the "dismissals are totally irregular and outside the policies we have established," I can only say that it is the Archbishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese who is, for all practical purposes, the chief executive officer of the school, and His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon is well aware of how the students at Holy Cross really feel. Furthermore, His Eminence is well within his rights to reassign priests. As for the Massachusetts Attorney General, he certainly has the authority to uphold academic standards, but this is not an academic matter. It is a Church matter.

In any event, my primary concern is the poor reflection the reassigned priests have generated for the Church. Moreover, it is impertinent to claim that they enjoy the backing of the whole Greek American community, when they do not. Those who are accused of concealing information are, in fact, trying to protect the students and improve the quality of life at Holy Cross, as well as spare the Church from unnecessary embarrassment. Those who are crying foul care only about themselves, and this is probably one of the reasons why they have been reassigned in the first place. Thank you.

Evan C. Lambrou
156 Honness Lane
Ithaca, NY 14850

[ Alitheia-Αλήθεια |  -  July 11, 1997 ]

*)  A letter never published by "The Boston Globe"