GOARCH - October 23, 1998
Archdiocese and Archbishop Issue Statement on Litigation
NEW YORK - The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is issuing this statement in light of the decision of the organization GOAL to contest the litigation of the Archdiocese to re-gain the confidential membership list of the Archdiocese.
"The Holy Archdiocese of America notes with deep sadness that GOAL has chosen not to acknowledge either the fact that they used a misappropriated Archdiocesan mailing list, or that this list of stewardship members is confidential. The Archdiocese, through its counsel, has advised both the Court and GOAL that it is willing to pursue settlement in order to restore this property of the Church. Regrettably, GOAL has refused at this time. While the Archdiocese supports and vigorously defends the rights of GOAL and any other entity or persons to express their opinions, views and ideas, the Archdiocese affirms that such discourse should take place within the confines of the laws of the land. Using misappropriated property that belongs to the Archdiocese, whether it be a computer disk or a printed list, is neither the Christian nor the civil thing to do. The Archdiocese has never had any desire nor intention of solving any dispute by resorting to legal action. The legal action against GOAL has not been pursued against any individual person, only the corporate entity; therefore, it is patently false to say that the Archdiocese has sued any of its own flock. The entire substance of the issue is only the return of the confidential mailing list and a means of preventing its unauthorized use in the future. The Archdiocese calls upon all parties to desist from continued litigation and restore the property of the Archdiocese."
Furthermore, His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon issued the following statement:
"I am still hopeful that a Christian and Christ-like settlement is possible. I myself have never believed in litigation as a means to resolving problems. I believe that we must forgive those who have wronged us and enter into dialogue with those who believe they are our adversaries. I have called for a renewed spirit of love and understanding among all members of our Archdiocese family. Our hearts and minds are open to those who feel pained or hurt. I remember the Clergy-Laity Congress, and I saw for myself such examples of pain, and I saw how, when people come together in good faith and with good will, this pain can be successfully addressed in the open process of our Archdiocese. That's why we have the Congress, the Parish Assemblies on the local level, and all the other forums of dialogue in our Archdiocese. As for the members of GOAL, I do now invite them for the third time to come and meet with me and have their concerns addressed and their questions answered. The environment of suspicion and mistrust must come to an end. The doors of the Archdiocese are open. The members of the Archdiocesan Council and the Executive Committee are eager to help and clarify any and all issues. Innuendo and wild and inflammatory criticism must cease. Most importantly, our open hearts are ready, as they have always been, to receive each and every son and daughter of the Church in a spirit of reconciliation, a spirit of mutual forgiveness, and a spirit of peace. The only way for this Church to travel is the Way of Christ, and this must be the way of sacrificial love. Let us pray that the hearts of stone will be made into hearts of flesh by the working of God's Holy Spirit, and that love and peace may reign in our Holy Archdiocese. Only two days ago, the Congress of the United States of America recognized the spiritual value of our Holy Orthodox Faith in their call for the respect of the religious liberty and integrity of our Holy Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate. A law was passed calling for such recognition! Let us concentrate our joint efforts on laws of this kind, and the greater law of love that our Savior has commanded us to fulfill."
October 23, 1998 ]