Associated Press - February 10, 1999

US Archbishop Meets Greek Officials

ATHENS, Greece (AP) - Archbishop Spyridon, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States, discussed the problems faced by the Greek-American community with senior government officials Wednesday.

Spyridon's official week-long visit to Athens, which began on Tuesday, is billed as an effort to bring the U.S. church's nearly two million faithful closer to their Greek roots.

He discussed ways of promoting Greek interests in the United States with President Costis Stephanopoulos and Premier Costas Simitis. Spyridon then discussed education issues with European Affairs Minister George Papandreou.

Spyridon faces an unprecedented crisis in the U.S. Orthodox church, with growing numbers of clergy and laity calling for his resignation.

Critics have accused him of being out of touch with the demands and needs of his American flock and of behaving like an autocrat rather than a servant of the church.

In their meeting Wednesday, Parliament Speaker Apostolos Kaklamanis told Spyridon he has the complete support of the Greek Parliament.

The Archbishop began his week-long official visit to the Greek capital on Tuesday when he met with Archbishop Christodoulos, primate of the Orthodox Church of Greece.

[ Associated Press - February 10, 1999 ]