The Hellenic Chronicle - April 21, 1999

Hellenic Chronicle readers express their views


In your article on March 20, you posed about two dozen rhetorical questions and proceeded to answer them yourselves. Unfortunately, those are not the questions you should be answering.

The first question that comes to mind when reading your article is, did you ever stop and think about the ramifications your actions may have for the future of the Greek Orthodox Church?

My own answer to this question is, no, you cannot have.

You created a "κóμμα," a political party, within the Greek Orthodox Community. By doing so, you drew a line, you separated those who may wish to agree with you from those who do not see why you are doing what you are doing. You are creating a oκiouα within our Greek Orthodox Christian Community.

Is this what you want to do? Not doubting your sincerity, I doubt that this is what you are aiming at or that you ever took this possibility into consideration.

But the fact is that the creation of such a party may very well lead to polarization and to a schism. It has always been my opinion that, for this reason, creating a political party within the Church is a grave offense against all Christians at large, regardless of the reasons that lead a group to form such a party.

History is a great teacher.

Since you felt entitled to form such a party, others may feel entitled to do the same, namely, form political parties allegedly pursuing some lofty goal within the Greek Orthodox Church. Do you want that? No, you don't want that. Because eventually, the Church will suffer, the Christians at large will suffer from the practice. Haven't you been reared, as I have, with the belief that the Church in itself is a goal and everything worth pursuing in connection with the Church should be pursued within the organization of the Church? Having this in mind, shouldn't you be discouraging anyone from forming political parties within the Church?

There are many more questions, like, do you have a hidden agenda?

And, am I in the position, I and the many, many thousands of Greek Orthodox Christians, to answer this question?

No, we are not in the position to answer this question, we can never know. How can we?

Is it possible that you have a hidden agenda? The answer is, yes, it is possible that you have a hidden agenda.

Is it possible then, for any other group to repeat your example and form a political party within the Church simply by adding to their party's name the word "Greek Orthodox," and have a hidden agenda of which you will know nothing?

The emphasis here is, "repeating your example."

Do you wish others, then, to claim the same right and repeat your example who may have a hidden agenda?

The question inevitably following is: Can you now, after you created the precedence, have any control of who will form the next party, possibly with a hidden agenda?

Again, the answer is, no, this possibility is not open to you.

Or, can you say what direction the party you helped create will take in the future and, with the power you helped it to acquire, what other causes it may espouse you, yourself, would have never agreed with?

Did you think that the precedence you are creating may create problems for the Greek Orthodox Church long after you are gone?

Do you now still think that the way you chose to "change things" within the Greek Orthodox Church was the right way?

Let me see if this answer can be had from Him.

We, the Orthodox Christians at large, have a pretty good picture of Jesus Christ and His teachings. And there are many among those who read His words who, in times of crisis (and this is not to imply that there is a crisis) talk with Him, face to face, if you know what I mean, trying to get the answers that seem to allude us. Do you do that, sometimes? Did you do that in your present situation?

Trying to get answers, presupposes, of course, that one knows that one's behavior creates these questions.

Your complaints concern some shortcomings of the new Archbishop that, in your opinion, are so grave as to require "drastic" measures such as demanding his removal from office.

Did you try to talk to Him, each of you alone with Him, face to face, and did you try to obtain some answer of how this "crisis" should be solved before making or repeating the threats and the demands you made?

What do you think He would advise you to do in this situation, if there is, in fact, a situation? How would He think you should be acting?

Would He, perhaps, advise patience?

Would He, perhaps, advise you to render your help to correct the short-coming you believe this Christian has, instead of trying to just push him aside?

Granted, this would be the easy way out if there was a crisis.

If there is one aspect no one can dispute about the Christian religion is that He never took the easy way out.

Those are the things that make up a Christian.

As I understood the religion I was reared by, and I am only a Christian at large and do not, and never did, belong to any kind of a party, the right course, the Christian course, would be to try to understand, to try to be patient, to try to render Christian help and never, never, just push a person aside. As I have understood it, the Christian faith is based on this very maxim. And I don't remember Him saying that there exist persons among us that are beyond or not worthy of our, your, help and are to be pushed aside.

It was the most needy He rendered His help to.

These are the beliefs that make up a Christian.

You would have raised your objections as Christians at large. You did not have to form a party, make demands, threats. This is not a Christian way. Nor do you have to call yourselves "leaders" and set yourself apart from every good, simple, Greek Orthodox Christian. When you put the word "Christian" in your logo, you shouldn't be relegating its meaning to second place when acting.

Money spent, money donated or money given led many an otherwise brave Christian to the false belief that this is all that is required to be a good Christian or that this gives a Christian special prerogatives within the Church. The Church has survived many lean years, for twenty centuries now.

In your article in The Hellenic Chronicle you state that GOAL's "mission" is to "organize the clergy and laity to prayerfully and thoughtfully resolve these issues."

Are you "organizing" the clergy and laity" within or outside the Church" Is this "organizing," in both cases, not a contradiction in terms?

I understand that a number of Archons, less than half, addressed a letter with demands to the Patriarch. Less than the half means to me, the Christian at large, that there is a division within the group of the Archons - a division.

You demand in your article that Archbishop Spyridon must resign.

There is nothing "prayerful" or "thoughtful" in a letter of demand or in a demand. Why, then, the empty phrases when you are simply demanding?

Do you think that the many, many thousands of Greek Orthodox Christians at large, if given all the facts, will agree with your doing? How many thousands did you ask?

You say that your goal is to "organize the clergy and laity to prayerfully and thoughtfully resolve these issues." But the letter with the demand is already written and mailed without input from the "clergy and laity" you say you wish to organize and to protect! The fact is that you are not looking for a solution, you already made your decisions! Why then pretend that there is room for discussion?

There is nothing "peaceful" or "prayerful" about the demands and the threats in your article; it reads more like a manifesto and a declaration of war.

How many Christians will now stay away from the Church you are trying to rule because of your actions?

The final question may be, where do you, as a member of this political party, go from here?

Greek Orthodox Christianity will not perish or suffer from the real or alleged shortcomings of one Christian. But, in the long run, Christianity will suffer from the practice you are initiating with your political party.

The capital sin would not be to have made a mistake, as you did, but to refuse to recognize that one has made a mistake and not try to correct it before one has no longer any control of what this mistake may cause in the future. Here is where the strength of Christian teaching lies.

Regardless of the excuses, no goal is big enough as to initiate a practice that may, down the years, give an excuse to others to create yet another schism within the Greek Orthodox Church. I would have expected more foresight from any person, especially from one who calls himself a "leader." This is not the good you wish to have done for the Church; this is surely not the good you wish to be remembered for.

Spiros Valentis
Doctor of Law and Doctor of Canon Law
Brooklyn, NY

[ The Hellenic Chronicle - April 21, 1999 - p. 5 ]