The Hellenic Chronicle - August 6, 1997

Hellenic Chronicle readers write

HC/HC Is Not "At Risk"

As a theological student at Holy Cross ("school") for the last two years and a practicing attorney for 10 years prior to my attendance, I have what I believe to be a fairly accurate picture of what is going on at the school.

The headline of your July 9 article --"Dismissals" at Hellenic College Holy Cross Theological School put institution at risk"-- is grossly misleading to your readers and factually and legally inaccurate. Despite your assertions, the school is not "at risk" either legally, ethically or with its accreditation.

None of the professors that you referred to as being "fired" were in fact fired. Fr. Clapsis is being reassigned to a full-time parish. He is a non-tenured professor whose yearly contract must be renewed at the end of each school year. Nor has Fr. Stylianopoulos been fired. Although a tenured professor, his reassignment is not a "firing" and presents no legal liability based upon recent case law (Curran vs. Catholic University of America). Neither has Fr. Calivas been fired. He is still employed as a professor. Further, as ordained priests they know and have agreed that their membership on the faculty is subject to, and conditioned upon, their fulfillment of their duties as priests as determined by their spiritual superior, Archbishop Spyridon. As such, their first loyalty is to the church and the Archbishop and their priestly duties and obedience take precedence over their teaching careers.

Also, there was no "cover up" by Fr. Dragas regarding his review and decision of the appeal of the student/priest. Rather, it was Fr. Calivas and the disciplinary committee who were abusing the investigation process and attempting to manipulate the appeal procedure as set forth in the Student Handbook. Their attempt to continue the appeal process by supposedly "appealing" the final decision of Fr. Dragas is strictly prohibited by the Student Handbook. It was this outrageous and illegal conduct of the former president and the disciplinary committee that the Archbishop put a stop to. Further, the action of these professors in this investigation was in retaliation to a letter written by these Greek students/priests 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.

The alleged corporate irregularities that you report as threatening the school's accreditation are also without merit. To begin with, the ecclesiastical structure of the Orthodox Church is hierarchical. In America, Archbishop Spyridon is the head of this hierarchy and has the ultimate authority and control over the church. That is, all members and institutions of the church are subordinate (functionally and spiritually) to the Archbishop. This is made clear in the Charters of the Archdiocese and Hellenic College, Inc.

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that in a hierarchial church, the decisions of the church's hierarchy are final even when a dissenting member claims that the church has no jurisdiction/power to act or has violated its own internal procedures. Thus, all of the allegations against the Archbishop that he is acting "illegally" (usurping the power of the President, Board of Trustees/Corporate Members) are legally without merit. Rather, as the highest court in America acknowledges, the Archbishop is acting fully within his ecclesial authority as the spiritual head of the church. To say that the Archbishop does not have this ecclesial authority is to deny the hierarchial structure of the church and its head (Archbishop Spyridon) and to exalt the secular side of the church (corporation and its bylaws) over the former.

Finally, the allegations that the cases of Drs. Evie Holmberg (accreditation problem) and Eleni Perdikoyani (INS problem) are legally without merit. In the first case, the ATS (Assoc. of Theological Schools) has acknowledged that there is no problem. In the second matter, a change in her visa status is all that is required. The school's original misrepresentations to her about her status and their failure to assist her in changing her visa are the only problems that occurred under Fr. Calivas.

Theological student at Holy Cross Seminary

[ The Hellenic Chronicle - August 6, 1997 - p. 5 ]