Athens News Agency - September 22, 1999

Spyridon Declines Election as Metropolitan of Chaldia

By Justine Frangouli

A month after his resignation from the Archiepiscopal throne of America, Archbishop Spyridon has broken his silence with a laconic letter to the Patriarchate. He explained that he is unable to accept his election as Metropolitan of Chaldia due to "all quirks transpired," as he put it.

Archbishop Spyridon pointed out that he has decided to withdraw completely from active church service, a fact that he had made known to the Mother Church on his last visit to the Phanar in July.

Thus, the former Archbishop of America, though refusing for the time being to speak to journalists about the cliffhanger of his resignation, by describing the events transpired as "quirky" revealed in fact that there had been intense behind-the-scenes activity up to the very day of his enforced retirement from office.

Besides, in his farewell encyclical to the Church of America, Archbishop Spyridon indirectly but clearly referred to these behind-the-scenes pressures exercised upon him to resign by stressing that principle and truth can no longer be compromised.

He wrote: "In the course of any ministry that God delivers into the hands of a man, there comes a time when principle and truth cannot be risked above and beyond the integrity of the human spirit. These moments are the ones that define us as human persons, that make us what we are. I give thanks to our Lord Jesus Christ that even as a simple man dwelling in the flesh and living in the world I still know such moments. And what is more, there is grace upon grace; for my heart is clean of any malice, ill will, or judgment of others."

With Spyridon's refusal to accept his election as Metropolitan of Chaldia, the developments of recent months in the Church of America take on another dramatic dimension, causing new headaches for the Phanar. The Mother Church is anxious to put an end to the whole story in the quickest and most painless way, by exiling, in effect, Archbishop Spyridon into the anonymity of his new appointment.

It would seem, however, that Archbishop Spyridon is not disposed to accept further humiliating pressures from the Phanar. In fact, he has revealed to those close to him that he will speak out about individuals and events when the time comes.

[ Translated from Greek ]

[ Αθηναϊκό Πρακτορείο Ειδήσεων - September 22, 1999 ]