Krikos - Autumn 1999



Spyridon is out and Demetrios is in. Is the war over? Not necessarily.

It is true that most of the "outs" are in and most of the "ins" are out. Was that what it was all about?

The lay group GOAL (Greek Orthodox American Leaders) which was in the forefront of the fight against Spyridon announced on September 12, 1999 that it: "has brought its activities to a close." Why so soon? The battle is far from over. It is rumored that the Iakovites in GOAL forced the liquidation of the group. It could be that once they were restored to their positions of power within the church they lost all interest in pursuing the rest of their announced goals, which among others, included the restoration of the 1977 Charter which delineated the powers of the laity and the clergy in administering the church.

Spyridon has hit the road and Demetrios is our new Archbishop. We have heard nothing but positive things about Demetrios and, if they are true, then he is a candidate for sainthood. He is, they say, a fair and just man. A person of good character.

Let's hope so because our church cannot afford to go through this traumatic division again. We were subjected to lies, innuendos, threats, warnings, character assassination and so much more... from both sides.

Our two New York Greek dailies took sides with "Proini" being the more vicious and despicable of the two in its frenetic efforts to defend and sustain Spyridon.

As for Spyridon, he was a victim as much as anyone and the less said about him the better.

The real villain in all this was and still is Patriarch Bartholomew, who announced only three months ago that Spyridon was our Archbishop "for life." Put not your trust in Kings and Patriarchs.

We find it hard to believe that Bartholomew sent Spyridon to this country not knowing what he was like. It is much more likely that the Patriarch, knowing Spyridon well, used him as a lightning rod for all the dissatisfied faithful while he, the Patriarch, went quietly about dismantling our church: ignoring the 1977 Charter which laid down parameters between clergy and laity; limiting the jurisdiction of our Archdiocese to the United States; diminishing the power of our Archbishop by creating five Metropolitans answerable only to the Patriarch; and accepting an "Old Calendar Church" group headquartered in New York City within the Patriarchate's fold. Consider the implications of placing this "Old Calendar Church" under his direct jurisdiction. This "Old Calendar Church" has organized churches and monasteries in various parts of the country; consequently, giving the Patriarch a foot in the door. He now has an organization with which to confront the regular Greek Orthodox Church, should it come to that.

In addition to the "Old Calendarists" mentioned above, he, the Patriarch, can probably rely on a group of backward-looking priests—fundamentalists who are, for the most part, followers of a monk called Father Ephraim. We are told that this fellow, Ephraim, operates sixteen monasteries in the United States and that he is independent of our Archdiocese. The fundamentalists, we are told, believe that the clergy must all wear beards; benches and chairs must be removed from the churches; women are unclean and should be restricted in the church (including the choir); parish administration should be solely in the hands of the clergy; and that parish boards are an abomination. The fundamentalists were given a taste of power since they provided the muscle and sinews of Spyridon's administration, and while they may be "out" don't "count them out." The fundamentalists along with the "Old Calendarists" are numerous enough to constitute a threat to the established church—should they find a leader.

Archbishop Demetrios is about seventy-two years old and, therefore, must be considered an interim Archbishop. This means that Patriarch Bartholomew will have at least one more opportunity to place his own man as Archbishop with the same disastrous results. This risk could have been avoided if we had used this opportunity to become autocephalous.

The damage done to our church by Patriarch Bartholomew persists. The removal of Spyridon was not a victory for our church but an armistice brought about by the Patriarch who cut his losses by sacrificing one of his loyalists. The Patriarch and his followers, both here and in Istanbul, are arming themselves for the struggle to come.

There can be, in essence, no real difference in the administration of our Archdiocese between Demetrios and Spyridon. Our church will continue to be run from Ankara. Patriarch Bartholomew is, out of necessity if not disposition, an agent of whatever Turkish ministry regulates religions. The Patriarch and his dark, shadowy minions are people who have sold our patrimony for an Istanbul address.

Let's get rid of them.

Hermes Trismegistus

[ Krikos - No. 1 - Autumn 1999 - pp. 1 and 7 ]