The Hellenic Chronicle - January 20, 1999

Metropolitans asked Patriarch to reassign Spyridon,
calling him responsible for crisis

Report to Holy Synod details vindictiveness,
division of flock into Greeks & Americans,
degrading of synodical system, inability to embrace other Orthodox

BOSTON — The five Metropolitans of the Greek Orthodox Church in America went to the meeting last week at the Phanar armed with a document that put the blame for the crisis plaguing the Archdiocese "with the person of the Archbishop" and calling for his reassignment.

It was clear, according to sources close to the meeting, that the decision not to remove Archbishop Spyridon had been decided the day before the meeting was held. There was little discussion by the Holy Synod of the report which had been prepared by our hierarchs at the request of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, which concludes that "the great majority of both the clergy and the laity regard the Archbishop as the one responsible for this crisis."

The report asks the Phanar "to save the first and greatest Eparchy of the Throne, the Sacred Archdiocese of America, by reassigning him to a position appropriate and analogous to his office and by electing a new Archbishop according to the Constitutional Charter of 1977."

Describing the Archbishop's behavior as "paranoid," seeing "enemies" at every turn, the Metropolitans went much further than their statement of October 14, 1998 in distancing themselves from the reign of Archbishop Spyridon.

Last summer's Clergy-Laity Congress is called "perhaps the worst in the annals of the Archdiocese" and "the prevailing spirit of it was that of policing and lack of freedom of expression," the report continues.

"New, strange and unheard of regulations were interjected into the police-controlled Clergy-Laity Congress, reminiscent of the bullying tactics of the Middle Ages."

The decision to bring a lawsuit against the lay organization Greek Orthodox American Leaders (GOAL) was made "by the Archbishop and his immediate co-workers in the Archdiocese, apart from the Synod and the other Archdiocesan bodies" and "was made apart from the Mother Church which, according to the sacred canons, has the last word on the issue."

The filing of the Christmas Eve appeal of the judge's decision against the Archdiocese "is ample proof that the first among us is unable to be taught by his own mistakes," the Metropolitans stated.

With regard to Hellenic College/Holy Cross, the Metropolitans reported to the Holy Synod that the most promising students are leaving, transferring to other theological schools, specifically that of St. Vladimir. They also state that the majority of Christians interested in ecclesiastical affairs will not rest and will not be satisfied until the four clergy-professors dismissed from Hellenic College/Holy Cross by the Archbishop are reinstated to the faculty.

The Synod of Bishops in America, the highest administrative body of the Archdiocese according to the canons and the 1977 Charter, has been degraded by the Archbishop, placing on its agenda only unessential matters. The Metropolitans charge they have been demonized by the Archbishop repeatedly as nothing but "ambitious, lovers of prominence and zealous seekers of power" and claim that "it is not possible for peace and harmony to exist when conciliarity, synodical spirit and synodical life are lacking."

With regard to the treatment of clergy in America, the Metropolitans report that the cry of more than 100 priests castigating the Archdiocese for its lack of love and supporting the Metropolitans call for conciliarity was met by responses from the Archdiocese that these priests are "retired and retarded."

The hierarchs also raise the specter of divisiveness caused by the Archbishop's classification of his supporters as loving Greece and the Greek language and his enemies as not speaking Greek and having separated themselves from Greece.

Archbishop Spyridon is unable to play a leading role in representing the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the other Orthodox Churches in America because of his demonstrable lack of respect for the other Churches and their similar feeling for him.

Lastly, the Metropolitans quote George Kokalis, the president of Leadership 100, as saying that the organization created to support the Archdiocese has not been able to attract new members and has lost substantial funds during the last two years of the Archbishop's tenure.

According to the directive of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the members of the Holy Synod in America should meet in unity as soon as possible. A meeting has been set for January 26 between the Metropolitans and Archbishop Spyridon.

Many parishes in the Archdiocese have reported that based on the lack of any response from the Ecumenical Patriarchate to the Metropolitans' report, general assemblies will be meeting to reexamine their contributions to the Archdiocese for 1999.

In a related report, two New Jersey Diocese priests were refused permission to officiate at services over the past week by Archbishop Spyridon because they were among the more than 100 priests who signed a letter supporting the Metropolitans' call for conciliarity.

Saying that he did not officiate with his "enemies," the Archbishop refused to allow their participation in feast day services at the St. Athanasios Church in Paramus, NJ.

The complete text of the report of the Metropolitans to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy Synod follows:

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