CHICAGO, Ill. - Metropolitan Iakovos of Krinis, the bishop who presides over the Diocese of Chicago, and 85 faithful of his Diocese silenced cadres of the group known as GOAL (the self-appointed Greek Orthodox American Leaders).
The Chicago Diocese Clergy-Laity assembly gathered at Saint Andrew's Church in Chicago on June 19 and rejected a motion by GOAL supporters to readopt the report submitted by Metropolitan Iakovos and his four fellow Metropolitans to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in January.
The Mother Church flatly rejected the report in question, which called for the removal of His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon as Primate from the Church in America.
The Metropolitans themselves (with the exception of Metropolitan Methodios - see related story, this page) assured the Archdiocesan council at the end of February that they wish to put the past behind them; that they will abide by the Mother Church's decision; and that they intend to cooperate with the Archbishop.
"For us," Metropolitan Iakovos said (referring to the Metropolitans of the Eparchial Synod), "the case is closed."
The report was strictly a personal matter, Metropolitan Iakovos explained, "and I don't see how you can allow this to even be a subject for discussion."
Neither can lay people reintroduce a matter which has already been decided by the Holy and Sacred Synod in Constantinople, the highest authority in the Greek Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Iakovos added.
Moreover, the Bishop of Chicago said, any attempt to do so must be considered an unacceptable attempt to disrupt the unity of the Church.
Tom Dallas, president of Saint Andrew's Parish Council and an Archon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, echoed Metropolitan Iakovos' sentiments, saying that the Church is not a democracy, and that lay people do not have the right to impose their will on a hierarchical Church.
The Metropolitans' report was a personal and confidential document through which they wanted to discuss various matters with the His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew. It's not in our domain, nor do we have the necessary knowledge or jurisdiction to deal with it. These things are for the hierarchy to handle, not lay people. Our Church is not a democracy, nor is She to be put on display. Our Church is governed by the hierarchy. That's what our holy tradition teaches us, so let's not interfere with these issues anymore," Mr. Dallas said.
The Diocese of Chicago has now officially endorsed the Ecumenical Patriarchate's decision to reject the now infamous report. This implies that the Diocese supports the Archbishop.
AD DISTRICT C-L: 100-12
IN ARCHBISOP'S FAVOR
It should also be pointed out that during the Archdiocesan District Clergy-Laity assembly held at Saint Demetrios Church in Jamaica, similar motion to readopt the Metropolitan's report was also overwhelmingly voted down by more 100 to 12.
The votes in Chicago and New York indicate that the Archbishop is strongly supported in the two largest dioceses of the Archdiocese.
In the Boston Diocese (see related stories, pages 1 and 5), a motion to readopt the Metropolitans' report was passed by an anemic seven votes: 58-51.
Even in New England, the area in which the Archbishop has been criticized most, the vote actually indicated that His Eminence enjoys a solid base of support in the heartland of his opposition.
This demonstrates that the vigorous lobbying tactics of GOAL are not nearly as successful as the para-ecclesial group insists. In stark contrast with GOAL's exaggerated claims, therefore, the sentiment against Archbishop Spyridon is not pervasive.
BOSTON, Mass. - In stark contrast to Metropolitan Iakovos, the Bishop of Chicago (see related story, this page), Metropolitan Methodios of Aneon, the Bishop of Boston, has been silent throughout recent ordeals in New England.
The question is, why?
The Bishop of Boston could have put a stop to a motion at the Boston Diocese Clergy-Laity assembly whuich was held in Dedham, Massachusetts on June 5, but he did not.
The motion proposed to readopt a report which was flatly rejected by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in January. The report, signed by Methodios and the other four Metropolitans, called for the removal of His Eminence Archbishop Spyridon from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
In New York at the end of February, the other four Metropolitans assured more than 70 members of the Archdiocesan Council that they would support the Archbishop. Metropolitan Methodios did not do the same, as he was not present when the Metropolitans were asked to clarify their position beyond an innocuous statement they had issued just before the Bishop of Boston departed (see Hellenic Times, February 19-March 4, 1999 issue, page 1).
In Dedham, Metropolitan Methodios "peppered his speech with… veiled criticisms of Spyridon himself," according to Stephen Angelides, executive editor of the website Voithia.
In Voithia's account of what took place, Mr. Angelides reports that Metropolitan Methodios denounced the Greek Orthodox Stewards, a group which has come out in favor of the Archbishop, and that the Metropolitan was also critical of the Archbishop's opponents.
But while the Metropolitan referred to the Stewards as a para-ecclesial group (a movement foreign to the life of the Church), he is not cited by Mr. Angelides as having done the same against GOAL (the self-proclaimed Greek Orthodox American Leaders), a group which vehemently opposes the Archbishop and has mounted a vigorous campaign against him (GOAL, incidentally, is the organization which publishes Voithia and calls for the Archbishop to be replaced by one of the Metropolitans).
In a June 7 report distributed by the Religion News Service, Metropolitan Methodios is also quoted as saying that "the Metropolitans must be co-responsible for every aspect of the administration of the Archdiocese."
If he wants to share in the responsibility for governing the Archdiocese with the Archbishop; if he is abiding by the Mother Church's decree in January that he and the other Metropolitans must cooperate with His Eminence, it is fair to ask, then, why Metropolitan Methodios allows anti-Archbishop activity to fester in his diocese (in the Archbishop's presence, no less).
But Metropolitan Methodios did not wish to comment at this time and said it was "best to wait and see what the Church has in mind for us."
At press time, the Holy and Sacred Synod of Constantinople, having canceled three synods in the last three weeks, was planning to convene a fourth time.
There has been rampant speculation in several Greek American publications, as well as in several newspapers from Greece, that the Archbishop's "removal is imminent."
Speculation is one thing, however. What the Mother Church actually decides and how She acts is quite another.
The Phanar is a very disciplined group and traditionally remains close to the vest on important ecclesiastical matters. Its general outlook on newspapers has been one of amusement. The current situation is no different, as speculation does little more than cause unrest among the faithful.
Perhaps Metropolitan Methodios is right. It might be best to wait and see what the Holy and Sacred Synod has in mind.