Voithia - August 9, 1997

Bishop Methodios Speaks out for the School

Bishop Methodios of Boston was recently interviewed by the Greek-language newspaper “Proini,” based in Astoria, N.Y., on the administrative situation at Hellenic College-Holy Cross School of Theology and the controversy generated by the reassignment of several administrators and faculty members. The interview appeared in the newspaper’s July 19-20 weekend edition. Following is an English adaptation.

PROINI: Your Grace, as former President of Holy Cross and, moreover, as Boston Diocese bishop, what is your opinion of this controversy at the School?

METHODIOS: I am deeply pained over the situation, as are the Greek Orthodox faithful of New England. The reports in the Greek press and, most especially, in the American press bring us no honor. Our people are scandalized and this is not to our advantage. It is unacceptable that a School official who has benefited greatly from this institution and from the Church, should take it upon herself to denigrate the School not only in the papers, but with the educational authorities and with the Attorney General of Massachusetts. I believe that the “Omogenia,” the Archdiocese and Ecumenical Patriarchate are in a position to face the School’s problems and solve them. At one time, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew characterized this unique institution of higher education as the backbone which holds the Body of our Church upright. Consequently, it is an institution of the Church whose purpose is to prepare spiritual leaders for the communities of the Holy Archdiocese of America. The Archbishop serves as president of the Board of Trustees and has responsibility for the School’s efficient operation, so that it can prepare the clergy of tomorrow.

PROINI: Do you know if the reports of the alleged sexual episode involving certain students were accurate?

METHODIOS: I will not engage the rumors and complaints you raise in your question about a so-called “sexual episode” because I believe that slander, or as we say, “koutsobolio” (vicious gossip) has taken up too much of our time. It is a spiritual cancer that destroys us. It is not possible for me, as the Bishop of Boston, to closely follow all the developments at the School. Moreover, I am not involved with the School’s governance. After my term as president ended, I assured the Ecumenical Patriarch that I would not be involved with School matters. I give my moral and financial support and I encourage the communities to respond generously with contributions. I reiterate that I know nothing related to the so-called “sexual episode.” I am sure, however, that behavior of this sort is not accepted and is severely punished.

PROINI: How true are rumors that the Archbishop decided to transfer the professors who were members of the disciplinary committee, because they did not accept “a directive from higher up” to conceal the whole matter?

METHODIOS: By no means was a “directive from higher up” - to use your expression - issued in order to conceal such an episode. Priests serve the Church wherever they are assigned, according to the Church’s needs. Some of the professors are assigned to communities where they receive some extra salary. During my presidency and afterwards, priests came from Greece to study. And these men served the needs of the communities of the Diocese where they were needed. From experience, I counsel you to be patient and the truth will soon become known.

PROINI: Your Grace, why was the school president, Father Calivas, replaced with the Bishop Isaiah of Denver?

METHODIOS: I suppose that he wanted a Bishop as president to represent the interests of our Holy Synod on a daily basis. It is to be expected that a new Archbishop would have his own vision and his own plans for the future course of the School. To put his new plans into operation, the Archbishop made some decisions after great deliberation. Some people reacted negatively. They obviously have forgotten that the clergy must obey the authority of their superior. Obedience, respect, Christian humility are fundamental teachings of the Orthodox spiritual life. Either we are Orthodox, or we are not.

PROINI: According to certain legal opinions, the replacement of these professors can be ruled as an illegal and irregular act by the civil courts, if someone should seek recourse for justice. How do you view such a possibility?

METHODIOS: The Church’s decisions are not overseen by civil courts. From what I know, the letter sent to the state Attorney General was not sent by a clergyman, but by a layperson on the School staff. I would be very sad, indeed, if a clergyman sought recourse to the civil courts in order to find justice. The clergy who are professors at the School are clergymen first, then academicians. They became priests first and professors afterwards.

PROINI: In your opinion, have the latest developments at the School affected the Ecumenical Patriarchate? It is said that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is vulnerable to this through Archbishop Spyridon. Is this true?

METHODIOS: The Holy Archdiocese of America is an eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and, consequently, what happens in America has repercussions at the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Throughout the “Omogenia,” there exist some people who have systematically sown the seeds of dissension to promote themselves. They have tried to divide the Archdiocese according to “Patriarchal” and “anti-Patriarchal.” They have failed with a resounding crash and are now attempting to shoot down Archbishop Spyridon and, therefore, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Holy Synod that elected him. I have no doubt that they will fail.

[ Voithia | | August 9, 1997 ]