Greek Orthodox Stewards of America - May 10, 1999
Two Archons Take Swipe at National Commander
in Open Letter to All Archons
We are writing this letter to express our outrage over certain actions at the Annual Meeting of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostles held on February 27, 1999 at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. First, the meeting opened on a discouraging tone with the demand that all Archons should conform to the dictates of Archbishop Spyridon or resign. Second, the Chair employed a number of improper procedural irregularities to force through certain items on his agenda. Third, there were clear efforts on the part of our leaders to conceal and distort facts.
1. At the opening of the meeting, our church leaders effectively gave the Archons a choice of either conforming to the dictates of the Archbishop - right or wrong - or resign from the Order. In their remarks at the meeting, Commander Limberakis and Archbishop Spyridon articulated this position quite clearly. Indeed, Archbishop Spyridon stated that any person who does not agree with him should "have the decency to resign from the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle." Other Archons even explored the legal possibility of removing non-conformists and dissenters from the Order.
We believe that this demand - to either conform or resign - is shocking and represents a renewed attempt to remove those people of conscience who have dissenting views and fail to blindly follow the dictates of the Archbishop. Admittedly, the admonitions of Commander Limberakis about supporting the constitution of the Order of Saint Andrew the Apostle certainly are appropriate. As Archons we are duty bound to defend the Ecumenical Patriarchate and our church. However, this does not mean ignoring the growing crisis in the most important jurisdictional body of our church, the holy Archdiocese of America. This does not mean turning our backs on the well known sentiment of disillusionment of the faithful as result of, among other things, Archbishop Spyridon's well documented spiteful acts, his patent lack of love for his flock and others and his arbitrary and disruptive actions under the guise of "supreme archiepiscopal authority." Moreover, this does not mean ignoring the scathing extensive report of the five Metropolitans of our Church in America and the critical letter of over 100 priests, both concluding that the Archbishop is unworthy to serve as our leader.
In light of these documented reports, we believe that Commander Limberakis' blind support of the Archbishop is misplaced. As all of us, Commander Limberakis is free to express his own views; however, he should not express support for the Archbishop on behalf of all Archons. Indeed, most Archons revel in their right to make their own decisions and determinations based upon facts, circumstances and merit. This is the democratic American way. Moreover, promoting inaction, as suggested by some, on the basis of blind Byzantine dogma conceals the rupture in our hierarchal system and is undermining and exposing the Ecumenical Patriarchate to a great deal of danger. Accordingly, Archons may be duty bound to dissent when Commander Limberakis advocated blind submission to the reactionary decisions and conduct of Archbishop Spyridon.
2. On three separate occasions, Commander Limberakis permitted the use of improper and irregular procedures in what we believe to be an effort to stack the national council and gain greater control of the leadership of the Archons. First, Commander Limberakis allowed business to be conducted without a quorum. Second, Commander Limberakis entertained a motion (which was illegally approved) to adopt bylaws that had neither been circulated in advance nor distributed at the meeting. Third, Commander Limberakis allowed certain nominees for membership into the Order, who had not yet been inducted into the Order, to bring a motion to the floor to amend the illegally adopted bylaws to double the number of council members. This proposal was neither circulated in advance nor distributed at the meeting and was, fortunately, tabled.
3. The outright refusal to furnish the Archons present at the meeting with critical facts concerning various issues confronting the Order is another illustration of the total contempt that our leaders have for keeping us informed. For example, the Archon leadership refused to provide any explanation of the embarrassing scandal over the alleged "exorbitant" fees paid to Theodora Corsell for consulting with respect to the tribute concert and dinner honoring the visit to New York of Patriarch Bartholomew. At the Archon's Annual Meeting, John Mavroudis, legal counsel, stated that a written report had been prepared by a committee with respect to this matter. However, Mr. Mavroudis refused to give an explanation of the problems, furnish anyone with a copy of the report or answer questions. The reason given for not disclosing the facts or furnishing a copy of the report is that there is threatened litigation between Ms. Corsell and the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle and the Archdiocese. It seems to us that disclosure is even more relevant under these circumstances.
According to Ms. Corsell, the project that she was hired for was substantially expanded and her agreement revised by adding to her duties administrative functions that were originally to be provided by the Archdiocese, which she claims justified the increased consultant fee of $100,000. Also, blank checks were signed by Commander Limberakis, filled in by Ms. Corsell and used to pay minor expenses. Ms. Corsell also made out the check to herself for $100,000 and had it signed by Theodore Dimitriou who allegedly knew of the change in the consultant agreement. Why, then, is commander Limberakis concealing these facts? Why aren't these facts made available to us and why should there be any possible threat of litigation? Annual meetings of organizations are held for the purpose of communicating with its members, not intentionally concealing critical information. How can we not conclude that this is nothing but a cover-up of some serious infraction and an effort to distract our attention from the true facts.
In summary, the events described in this letter reveal a disturbing lack of judgment on the part of Commander Limberakis and other church leaders and further reinforces our opinion that our church leaders have caused and continue to aggravate a major crisis in our church. These actions are dividing our church and pushing us into the hands of those promoting an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church in America, which most Greek Americans, including the undersigned, do not desire but may be forced to accept as the lesser of two evils.
Archon Zachary Marantis
Archon Thomas Dushas
[ Greek Orthodox Stewards of America
May 10, 1999 ]