Athens News Agency - January 18, 1999

Interview with Archbishop Spyridon on ERA 5

By Justine Frangouli

A great success for the Mother Church is how Archbishop of America Spyridon, speaking to Greek Radio (Era 5), described the Holy Synod meeting held last Tuesday at the Phanar. He stressed that the unity that bonds those responsible for the people of God in America had been clearly demonstrated at the meeting. Among its successes, according to Archbishop Spyridon, was the re-activation of the Eparchial Synod that will be convened towards the end of January to draw up a list of candidates eligible for the vacant dioceses in the Archdiocese of America.

As to other demands raised by the five metropolitans in their lengthy report to the Holy Synod of the Patriarchal Throne, the Archbishop of America said that there is a difference of views and opinions with regard to the powers and rights the Metropolitans should enjoy. Such powers and rights must be based on the Charter, the Uniform Parish Regulations and Church practice, he said. In Archbishop Spyridon's view, the Metropolitans' demands should be discussed in a special synod meeting or in a bishops' executive session and, should disagreement arise again, differences should be referred to the Patriarchate for final judgment.

In the same interview, the Primate of the Church of America stressed that the hierarchy, the clergy and the laity in America stand united behind the Archdiocese and that the few dissidents have no following among the broader masses of the Greek American people.

The Archbishop commented: "The few dissidents have attempted repeatedly, yet without success, to influence our communities and the clergy. Be it as it may, we are trying to extend bridges to these dissidents and to open a dialogue with them. It's up to them to realize how the Orthodox Church operates."

As to his plans for the Archdiocese of America now that he feels more firmly established after the Patriarchate's decision that he should remain in office, Archbishop Spyridon said that what has priority is the campaign for the re-opening of the Halki Theological School. This will involve the mobilization of Greek Americans, the sensitization of all those concerned with human rights and religious freedom, as well as the establishment of a foundation whose purpose would be to raise funds in support of this major initiative undertaken by the Archdiocese.

High among his immediate aims the Archbishop of America put the setting up of a new catechetical system so as to make religious education attractive to young people. He also stressed the need to redefine the role of St Basil Academy within the Archdiocese. "It is imperative that this important institution should serve the needs of church life in America more effectively," the Archbishop concluded.

[ Translated from Greek ]

[ Αθηναϊκό Πρακτορείο Ειδήσεων - January 18, 1999 ]