The GreekAmerican - April 11, 1998

Father Alex, A Church Insider, Resigns

By George Sarrinikolaou

The battle between Archbishop Spyridon and a group of lay leaders has claimed its first casualty. Rev. Alex Karloutsos, a trusted associate of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and his chief fundraiser in the United States, told The GreekAmerican that he is resigning from his post at the Archdiocese of America and taking a parish position at the Greek Orthodox Church Kimisis tis Theotokou in Southhampton, Long Island.

Rev. Karloutsos told of his decision on Wednesday, when The GreekAmerican telephoned him in Istanbul, where he is visiting the Ecumenical Patriarchate. An official statement announcing his departure, but not calling it a resignation, was issued by the Archdiocese hours later.

Rev. Karloutsos was already scheduled to celebrate the Easter Holy Week at the Southhampton parish, according to Penny Floros, a member of the parish council. But immediately following the telephone conversation with Rev. Karloutsos, Ms. Floros said that the community, which has been without a permanent priest since October, knew nothing of the possibility that Rev. Karloutsos would become their parish priest. "From your mouth to God's ears," said Ms. Floros. The Archdiocese's official statement said that Rev. Karloutsos "has been assigned, at his own request, to the parish" as of June 1, 1998.

Rev. Karloutsos indicated during the telephone conversation that the friction created between a group of notable Greek Americans calling themselves Greek Orthodox American Leaders (GOAL) and Archbishop Spyridon over the future direction of the Church has taken a toll on him. Rev. Karloutsos suggested that he wants to distance himself from the tension of the conflict by withdrawing to Southhampton. He said that he had submitted his resignation a month ago, and the Patriarch has finally accepted it now. No one was immediately available for comment at the Patriarchate.

A leading Greek American in Church affairs who has met with Rev. Karloutsos several times in the last three months said, on the condition of anonymity, that Rev. Karloutsos had complained of problems at the Archdiocese.

Rev. Karloutsos is thought to have helped raise millions of dollars in this country for the Patriarchate. Most recently, he served as the organizer for the Patriarch's US tour, one the main goals of which was to raise money.

But Rev. Karloutsos is considered more than an able fundraiser. His relationship with the Patriarch and his many contacts in the United States have given him an intimate knowledge of the dynamics of the Church and the Greek American community.

"I don't think that we can afford to lose a man like Father Alex," said James J. Armenakis, a lawyer and a friend of Rev. Karloutsos. "Hopefully he will not go too far away. I can't imagine that he will not have an active role in the Church and in our community."

Rev. Karloutsos's resignation comes just two-and-a-half weeks after a GOAL conference in Chicago, which called for the resignation of Archbishop Spyridon by May 1 if the Archbishop failed to address the group's concerns. The battle is being waged largely over the degree of administrative and financial control the laity and the Archdiocese can each have over the Church in the United States. Both sides are engaged in intense public relations campaigns to drum up support and are showing no signs of compromise.

[ EKKLISIA |  -  April 11, 1998 ]