The Hellenic Chronicle - March 3, 1999

New England Clergy take issue with "Stewards" inaccurate reporting

BROOKLINE - The St. Andrew Clergy Brotherhood of New England is calling upon the newly formed Greek Orthodox Stewards of America, an organization whose stated goal is to present "accurate information" on what is going on in our Archdiocese, to correct a report it carries on its website.

On the Stewards' website is an unattributed editorial entitled "For Your Information - A Story About Dirty Tricks." The story lays out the supposed scenario of a January meeting of the St. Andrew Clergy Brotherhood of New England at which an unannounced elected [sic] was held to depose the current clergy representatives to the Archdiocese Presbyters Council because of their support for the Archbishop.

Very Rev. Archimandrite Timothy Kapsalis, recording secretary of the St. Andrew Brotherhood, responded to the report by saying that it is inaccurate, that no attempt was made to contact the Brotherhood to verify the report and that basic journalistic integrity requires the author to identify himself.

Following is the "Dirty Tricks" article as carried by the Greek Orthodox Stewards of America and the response by the St. Andrew Clergy Brotherhood of New England.

For Your Information -- A Story About "Dirty Tricks"

Every Greek Orthodox diocese has a clergy "brotherhood", an association of priests. There also is a national clergy association known as the "Archdiocese Presbyters Council", or "APC." This body represents all priests of the Archdiocese. The APC meets regularly with His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon and discusses matters of importance to the priests of the Archdiocese. It has been supportive of Archbishop Spyridon and his initiatives. It is composed of clergy representatives from all dioceses. Until January 14, 1999, the APC representatives from the Boston diocese were Fr. George Economou and Fr. Panagiotis Giannakopoulos. In the summer of 1998, they were each elected to two year terms. Today, neither is a representative of the APC. What follows is a description of events that details why.

On January 14, 1999, the clergy brotherhood of the Boston diocese met. At first, it appeared that the meeting, which was scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., would have to be cancelled because only a few priests were present (it was snowing out). At approximately 11 a.m., about twenty priests all at once entered the meeting room led by Fr. Tom Chininis, the recently elected clergy brotherhood president of the Boston diocese. Fr. Chininis is the son-in-law of Fr. Alkiviadis Calivas, one of so-called four "dismissed" professors at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Seminary. Fr. Calivas was present at the meeting.

What then happened is as follows: Fr. Economou resigned as a representative of the APC, under apparent pressure to do so. Father Giannakopoulos, who was not present at the meeting because of heavy snow fall, was removed from office and new elections occurred. The winners of the new election were Frs. Tom Chininis and Dean Panagas. What is disturbing is (1) that no prior formal notice was given that elections would occur on January 14 and (2) that the elections occurred even though Frs. Economou and Giannakopoulos had 1 ½ years left on their terms. Fr. Giannakopoulos, a supporter of Archbishop Spyridon, has never resigned from his position as the Boston diocese representative to the APC.

What went on at this meeting is clear -- a group of priests decided to act illegally by removing duly elected representatives to the APC and replacing them with individuals perceived to be critics of the Archdiocese. Father Kerhulas, the president of the APC, and other APC officers should intervene in this matter. The APC should not recognize Frs. Chininis and Panagas as the Boston diocese representatives to the APC. Moreover, His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios, who apparently knew about the election in advance, also should intervene and correct this wrong. His Chancellor, Fr. Kromydas, was present at the meeting, but he did nothing to stop the removal of the duly elected priest representatives.

One other disturbing event occurred at the January 14 meeting. The clergy of the Boston diocese had collected approximately $10,000 for seminarian housing at Hellenic College/Holy Cross Seminary. Upon motion, the clergy in attendance, including the "dismissed" professor who was at the meeting, voted to withhold the money from the seminarians. Only the clergy who voted to withhold the money, clergy who presumably love Hellenic College/Holy Cross Seminary and its students, can explain why they voted in this way. You should ask them for an explanation.

Note from the editor: The original version of this article said that father Stylianopoulos was at the meeting. We have learned that he was not in attendance and have corrected the article accordingly. We apologize for the error.

The Response From The St. Andrew Clergy Brotherhood

On behalf of the St. Andrew Clergy Brotherhood of the Dioceses of Boston we write to you to express our concern for the inaccuracy of your article entitled, "For Your Information - A Story About 'Dirty Tricks'." Your organization while purporting to disseminate the 'whole truth' has failed to do so on multiple facts in this article. We have taken the liberty to address only a few of the errors:

  • On January 14 a Brotherhood meeting called for 10:30 a.m. was held. At that meeting, the 'APC' was listed on one of the agenda items. During that item, the overwhelming majority of the brothers present asked that APC representation return to the earlier custom of having the president and vice-president serve as representatives. There was no 'election' and there was no separate vote to 'remove from office' as your article intimates. The Brotherhood reserves its prerogative to determine its representation. It should be noted that the Brotherhood By-laws are silent on this issue and following earlier custom is appropriate.
  • The election of representatives to the APC was not listed as an agenda item at the June 1998 meeting, thus, raising the question if the representatives were 'duly elected' at that time.
  • Your statements about the clergy of our diocese are inappropriate and unacceptable for an Orthodox layman. These clergy have been active in the clergy brotherhood for many years.
  • It was never discussed that the money collected for the married student housing at Hellenic College and Holy Cross would not be given. The clergy did not vote, "to withhold the money from the seminarians." The question discussed was when to give the funds and if we would be able to collect more before giving it to the school. The question was tabled until the treasurer would be able to offer an in-depth report.

Your listing of purposes which is found on your web site causes us to raise a simple question. If your organization desires the, "dissemination of accurate information," why did you not contact a member of the Brotherhood Board in order to verify the accuracy of your report? The most basic journalistic tenets would require such an inquiry. Additionally, journalistic integrity requires that the author of the article identify himself. We hope that this response will help in formulating a more accurate accounting of these events.

For the Brotherhood Board, I remain,
The Very Rev. Archimandrite Timothy Kapsalis, Recording Secretary

[ The Hellenic Chronicle - March 3, 1999 - pp. 1 and 6 ]