Office of the Bishop
312 Garfield St., Johnstown, PA 15906

His Eminence, Archbishop Spyridon
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America
10 East 79th Street
New York, New York 10021.

July 17, 1997

Your Eminence,

I ask for your Archiepiscopal blessing.

As a brother in Christ, who has the same mother, the Great Church of Christ, and the same father, His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, I would have Your Eminence know that I have not been sitting idly by and watching the malicious and vicious attacks against you, the Archdiocese and indeed our Holy Patriarchate. I am united to you in solidarity through prayer, fasting and vigil, and I want Your Eminence to know that you have the full, unequivocal and unqualified support of this Diocese of the Ecumenical Throne.

The Carpatho-Russian people, who have always shown the greatest loyalty to our Holy Mother Church and the Archdiocese, have been deeply hurt by the apparent disregard for Church order and authority, and the contemptible disrespect of an extremely small but unfortunately vocal minority within the Greek-American community, who are disturbing the peace of the Church. Pardon my outrage, Your Eminence, but such behavior by Orthodox Christians is unconscionable.

I share with Your Eminence the pain and insult which these completely irresponsible individuals have caused. But I know that Your Eminence is not afraid of the Cross of Christ and I will count myself fortunate indeed if I 'should be counted worthy to bear It with you. In spite of a few strident voices who complain and whine about "rights" and "privileges", please know, Your Eminence, that there are many more of us who know the greatest "privilege" is to bear the Cross of Christ -­ in the face of derision, in the face of mocking, in the face of contempt, in the face of false accusers -- because thus did our Lord carry His own Cross for our salvation and the salvation of the world.

This recent eruption, this blemish which is trying to disfigure the Bride of Christ, this too will pass. Most of us already understand that the necessary and vital steps which Your Eminence has taken to restore the proper, just and due respect for all the important role of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the future of the American Orthodox, as well as the good canonical order of the Church, have been difficult, especially for members of your own flock who have set their own agendas for far too long.

Like Your Eminence, I too head up a theological school, Christ the Savior Seminary, which is nearly as old as Holy Cross. Although our school is smaller, serving the needs of a smaller population, its purpose is the same as Holy Cross: to train and produce faithful, loyal, competent, pious priests to serve the people of God. We are well aware that Holy Cross has been plagued with all kinds of difficulties for some time now. The year-long conflicts which demoralized the students, set the faculty at one another, and increased the spiritual crisis at the school were well known around the country. It is indeed a shame that your patience over this last year with the administration of Holy Cross, as you allowed them the dignity to "iron out" their own difficulties, has been rewarded with recalcitrance, obstinacy, and unthinkable disloyalty to the school, Your Eminence and to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, whom these moments strive to embarrass by their forays into the Greek and American press.

What is even more stunning, Your Eminence, and truly proof of how far we Orthodox in America have strayed from the "Royal Way" of our Holy mother Church, is the completely un-called for reaction by certain clergy and laymen to this restoration of canonical order which was completely necessary for the Archdiocese. Has 100 year in the Protestant society so mutated the soul of the American faithful, that they are willing to surrender the Consensus Patrum for some false and worldly "consensus" which represents only personal agendas? Have priests gone from being servants and ministers of the Word to becoming "free agents?"

I know my words seem strong, Your Eminence, but strong diseases need equally strong cures. We know that you have acted not only in the interests of the School, but in the interest of the future of Orthodoxy in America. You will forgive me for saying it so bluntly, but we can no longer allow the spiritual children of America to behave in such an unruly manner.

We know how for many years before the Great Church sent Your Eminence to help us find our way again, alienation, estrangement from and even propaganda against the Mother Church of Constantinople was not only tolerated, but even encouraged by some. Those days are over, but we still have much repair, re-building and spiritual healing to accomplish.

We stand on the verge of an Orthodox spiritual-awakening in America, but only if we are faithful to the patristic, canonical and traditional path which our Holy Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is leading us on. We know that Your Eminence is directing your every effort towards bringing all the American Flock into that path and way of salvation. Under the leadership of Your Eminence as the Exarch of His All Holiness, we all cut a swath wide enough for all our faithful. I encourage you with all my fraternal love and deepest respect, to continue to stand fast against the malicious and strident voices of those who arrogantly seek to separate us from our Mother Church. I know that they are assailing you with a particularly vennomous campaign, but also know your Eminence's faith and I have no doubt whatsoever that the Truth and the Church -- the Great Church -- will not only triumph, but bring reconciliation and restoration to the people of God.

As always, I and my God-protected Diocese stand ready to assist you in any way you feel we can contribute. May God continue to strengthen Your Eminence to fight this good fight of faith; for the sake of our Holy Mother Church and the future of orthodoxy in America.

With fraternal love in Christ,
Bishop Nicholas of Amissos
Diocesan Bishop

cc: His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

[ Orthodox Ministry Access - July 18, 1997 ]