The Hellenic Chronicle - February 18, 1998

Has Patriarch Bartholomew replaced Iakovos?


When the Patriarch visited America, he must have witnessed a vibrant Orthodox Church, an active laity and dedicated clergy who work hard to maintain their church-communities. His Holiness must have noticed that the Orthodox women are the backbone of our church, serving on parish councils, teaching Sunday School, singing in choirs and serving in the Ladies Philoptohos Society. Yet, since Archbishop Spyridon came, there have been rumblings filled with anxiety and unrest among the parishes in America.

Since September of 1996, the Phanar has conducted one of the most successful diversionary campaigns in the history of the Orthodox Church in America. While the parishioners were absorbed in non-canonical matters trying to resolve whether priests should wear beards or not, reacting to the rumor that women should not be in choirs and a host of other mundane topics, the Patriarchate was whittling away at the Archdiocese of North and South America.

First, there was the breakup of the Archdiocese into four metropolitan areas, the United States being one of them. The dioceses were still led by bishops who were recently prompted to metropolitan status of non-existent areas. Now within each diocese, there are no bishops assigned under each metropolitan.

Second, by doing the above, each metropolitan is directly responsible to the Patriarchate, which makes the position of Archbishop of America more of a figurehead.

Lastly, the finances are now controlled by the Patriarchate and not by the Archbishop of America. By having accomplished these three things, it appears that the Phanar has tried to eliminate the chances of having another Iakovos emerge as a leader.

It was recently announced that the Patriarch appointed Rev. Alex Karloutsos as the Director of the Worldwide Ecumenical Patriarchal Endowment Fund with the aim of raising 100 million dollars by the year 2000. Was this done because the Patriarch's trip to America only raised 10 million dollars, rather than the anticipated 40 million?

At a recent General Assembly in Weston, Massachusetts, a member asked Dimitri Moschos of the Archdiocesan Council if our chances of becoming an autocephalous church were possible. Moskos replied, "The Patriarchate believes that we are not mature enough to attain autocephaly." In less than 100 years, we have over 400 self-supporting church-communities, so, what constitutes maturity?

Perhaps, the Patriarchate meant by maturity to be when the 100 million dollars is raised and the fund matures, so that the Phanar can be supported by the interest on the 100 million dollars.

So, in less than two years, we have seen the Archdiocese carved up into metropolitan areas directly responsible to the Patriarchate. The archdiocese as experienced under Athenagoras, Michael and Iakovos for over 65 years, has been dismantled within a two-year span. In essence, what really happened is that Patriarch Bartholomew replaced Archbishop Iakovos.

Since Turkey recently passed legislation prohibiting religious schools to exist in Turkey, does the Phanar believe that the Patriarchate might eventually move from Istanbul and perhaps to America. The Patriarch himself has said that Turkey is making it more difficult for the Orthodox to exist in Istanbul. By making the law that the Patriarch must be a Turkish citizen has made it almost impossible. The future is definitely in jeopardy.

[ The Hellenic Chronicle - February 18, 1998 - p. 5 ]