Sun, 29 Oct 2000

A Reply to Popps' Blasphemous Letter on Archbishop Spyridon

By George Karras

Mr. Popps:

"For those few of every grade who during these past three years have opposed this vital mission of the Church and have spared little ordinance in an attack of words that has done far more damage to our Greek Orthodox family than it has to those entrusted with its leadership, I extend my heartfelt archpastoral forgiveness. It is my abiding hope that you will be granted to envision a future in which words will cease to be weapons and become icons of the Living Word of God, heralds of the Gospel of Peace."

These are a few of Archbishop Spyridon's words within his resignation letter. After three years of a political, psychological and "anything goes" warfare (the kind of which Washington D. C. politicians would "envy"), he chose to resign and withdraw from active duty rather than allow our Archdiocese to become the Sunday Club for a few self-appointed leaders; at least NOT while he was the Archbishop.

I read your letter to the Editor of the GreekAmerican newspaper (at least a couple of times) and then I started wandering whether it is possible that a small part of your conscience may actually be bothered by your personal persecutory actions of the past against Archbishop Spyridon. Is it perhaps this little voice within yourself that you are trying to quiet down by attempting to justify your past actions and behavior and thus continuing to spread your hatred more than a year after Archbishop Spyridon is gone? I do not know whether you have realized it yet Mr. Popps, but you "won" -- the Archbishop resigned and is long gone... You no longer have to go on doing what you are doing, sir.

Your letter presents us all with an accurate characterization of your personal level of arrogance with a strong overtone of ignorance. It constitutes an evil contempt for the Laws of our Savior and anything or rather everything that we, Greek Orthodox, should stand for. I find it sad, deplorable and a shame for my heritage that the Bride of Our Savior has members like you Mr. Popps, who refuse to let go, and instead, continue spreading the lies which you and your circle of friends so masterfully manufactured in your efforts to reach your GOAL. I find it equally sad that your hearts remain so very full of hatred for a man who has forgiven you more than a year ago, forced himself into self-exile (so that our current Archbishop can go on with his work), while you and your type are running up and down the halls of the Archdiocese, having converted it (again) into your personal Hall of Shame.

Your letter is filled with untrue accusations, innuendos and contempt of the greatest kind. You open it with the characterization of "apologia pro sua vita" for Archbishop Spyridon's interview content. I guess this is your effort to impress the readers with Latin when in fact it is your letter that is the "apologia pro sua vita" of you and your GOAL friends actions.

The misleading facts are again MANY:

a.. You start with the greatest untruth of them all -- that you actually welcomed Archbishop Spyridon with open arms, ready for the "post-Iakovian era". The truth is that you showed up and checked him out thoroughly. When you saw that he would not bow to your "leadership" and wishes, you declared your version of a holy war and then utilized your money, connections and the media to ensure that it "spread" all over America and the rest of the world. By the way, exactly what is the "post-Iakovian era"? Did the Church not exist before Archbishop Iakovos? Did it get established during his tenure? I personally know of only one era for the Church, and that is the one "After Christ".

b.. You quote the PREVIOUS Greek Foreign Minister, Theodoros Pangalos, a man who is a known atheist, an enemy of the Orthodox Church and a Mason, in an effort to gain some credibility. By the way, Mr. Popps, are you not a Mason as well? Are not most, if not all of the GOAL "leaders" Masons? Are you all aware that you cannot be an Orthodox and a Mason? To do so, is to serve two Masters and we Greek Orthodox have ONLY ONE Master and Savior and of all His names listed within the Bible, G.A.O.T.U. is NOT one of them. If you doubt my words, feel free to ask Archbishop Demetrios during your next get-together as to what the Canons of the Church say with respect to Masonry. He knows very well and he will tell you!

c.. You neglect to bring out the fact that His All Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomew, had initially told all of you "Archbishop Spyridon will be your Archbishop for life". You then intensified the warfare, threatened to declare autocephaly and then (coincidence?) a "gift" of about $1,500,000 was transported to the Patriarchate by Fr. Alex Karloutsos...Lets face it: the heretic and schismatic tactics of GOAL, Inc. created the unnecessary turmoil, which, when combined with this "coincidental gift", gave the Patriarch no "political" choice but to ask for Archbishop Spyridon's resignation. You see, sir, we know what happened and no matter what lies you spread, the truth is known by all and you can not re-write history, no matter how hard you and your friends try!

d.. You claim that Archbishop Spyridon "was, and remains, a man devoid of any publicly discernible warmth or priestly code of conduct". Which of his past or current actions do you utilize to make this accusation? Are you aware that it is Canonically prohibited for ANY layperson to make false accusations against another but especially against a member of the clergy and a Hierarch at that? Your hatred, sir, has no limits!

e.. You infer something about the "Italian misadventures" of Archbishop Spyridon. I had heard you and your circle feed these innuendos to the people in the past. If you have a charge to make, why not make it openly? We all know that you have absolutely nothing. I have Greek Orthodox friends in both Rome and Milan. I sent them an old "Voithia" article inquiring as to what these rumors may be about. They had no idea, even when they checked with several others within other Italian Orthodox parishes. Shame on you and anybody who resorts to this type of behavior. Your actions remind me of the behavior of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, Egypt against St. Nektarios. As in that time, it is so the case in today's society; a lie that is repeated enough or written about enough times, it eventually becomes the "truth" for many...

f.. You chose to characterize yourselves as "Amerikanakia". I personally believe a different characterization is more applicable to you and your friends: Genitsaroi. Why? Because only a Genitsaros causes the harm that you and your kind caused upon the Greek Orthodox Church of America while at the same time believing and boasting that "you fulfilled" your God-inspired mission...

g.. You go on to indicate that the previous Archbishop surrounded himself with "his" kind and established a religious "Gestapo". I guess this is why the GOAL boys ensured that all of his appointees were thrown out into the street, soon after Archbishop Spyridon resigned. They could not find any jobs for the longest time and were "made an example of what disobedience to the leaders results in". I am willing to guess that you also believe that your actions were out of Christian Love... As far as the Gestapo characterization, how would you know anything about what Gestapo is anyway? You see I have many relatives and friends whose family members were tortured by Gestapo and / or died in Gestapo jails. Please, try choosing your characterizations better next time as they represent an absolute blasphemy to both the servants of His Church as well as the memory of many fallen Greeks during the tribulations of the "Germaniki Katohi".

h.. You call Archbishop Spyridon's staff "pseudo-canon quoting men". Which of the canons they quoted to you were untrue? Do you even know the Canons of The Church? You would be surprised to find out that just the Apostolic Canons, if applied by any courageous Hierarch, would have led to the excommunication of you and many of your friends for what you did. Of course, our parishes now do not teach, use or even refer to the Canons of the Church. If they did, we would not be exposed to the protestant-like "services" of today and His Body and Blood would have not become Sunday candy for anybody who wakes up early enough to show up in Church... I know there are exceptions to this type of parish but they are few and far between. Our parishes are starving for spiritual leadership and yes, the Canons of the Church is what Archbishop Spyridon wished to enforce but it was not meant to be, at least not yet. It is for this exact reason that changes were made to the Theological Schools of America, so that the wave of protestantization of our parishes may be reversed. All else that you and your friends spread are lies! Should you wish to learn the Canons of the Church feel free to go to the basement of the Theological Schools, you will find the relevant texts there again, under lots of dust! You see, our priests to be are again being taught out of the new, shiny, protestant-authored books of the upper floors, while the Holy Books of the Fathers of the Church continue to collect dust.

i.. You also stated that Archbishop Spyridon surrounded himself with some pseudo-holy men. To whom exactly are you referring here Mr. Popps? Could it be the men whose mere presence repeatedly reminds you that this is NOT your Church but rather His Bride? If you have a specific charge against an individual or a group of individuals, why not make it in a clear and concise manner, giving us specific names, rather than using these ridiculous and blasphemous characterizations?

j.. In regards to the budget of the Archdiocese, you again present another great lie! You and all of us know that the finances of the Archdiocese were in significantly better shape than they had ever been and certainly in better shape than they are now. Archbishop Spyridon inherited a $7 million deficit, which he had reduced to a simple $200,000, and as he was about to turn it into a surplus, you and your kind unleashed a stream of lawsuits. These are documented facts and not innuendos, which you are accustomed to present.

k.. As far as his work habits, you may have a point ONLY when one refers to politically motivated appearances, White House photo ops and ribbon-cutting celebrations. Yes Mr. Popps, Archbishop Spyridon did not enjoy partaking in these events. He instead chose to visit parishes all over America, develop an action plan for the return of our parishes to their Orthodox roots, and work on the Greek lobbying efforts. In other words, he attempted to be the best Hierarch he could be for the great Diaspora and not the "busboy" of Leadership 100. Now I know this is not what you boys were used to, but that is what his job description called for. Shame on you and anybody who dares infer that a tireless Hierarch like Archbishop Spyridon was lazy and indifferent to his duties!

l.. Archbishop Spyridon accomplished a lot during his short tenure and it is all a matter of record. If you wish to see a listing of Archbishop Spyridon's accomplishments, they can easily be found within his resignation letter (which interestingly enough can no longer be located on any website, including Orthodox News). He is a key reason for the re-opening of discussions on the Cyprus status, shortly after his well-organized demonstration in Washington D.C. and the human chain around the Capitol building. This is also a matter of record and not an innuendo. It is very interesting to note that the Greek lobby became noticeable only during his tenure -- what had previous administrations accomplished with all the money they spent? Where was that money spent? Why is it that Archbishop Iakovos can enter and exit the White House whenever he wishes but none of the Greek issues with Turkey, Cyprus or FYROM came to any sort of a resolution or even improve? One in turn must also ask: what has the current Archdiocese accomplished thus far in its first year? The only answer is "appease, quite down and keep happy the GOAL and Leadership 100 boys". My prayer is that greater things are in the works which I might be unable to comprehend. Once again, time will tell!

m.. You go on to infer that the Archbishop was "paranoid" and often presented "rumors" of conspiracies against Hellenism and the Greek language. This theory of the Archbishop has been validated over and over again, before and after his tenure. Why, for example, is it that the current administration of the Archdiocese has refused to follow up on the agreement that Archbishop Spyridon made to bring teachers from Greece? Is it because they found better teachers elsewhere? The enrollment of students in Greek schools has again started declining after seeing some rise during his tenure. Is that a coincidence? I dare say not! Why is it that the only time that (most) parishes call themselves Greek and "proudly" present the Greek colors is during the annual embarrassment called Greek Fest? Why is it that after the Greek Fest is over, the gyros has been sold and the bouzouki sounds quieted down the flags go down and one would be hard-pressed to see anything Hellenic for another year? The previous program of de-Hellenization of our parishes has indeed been re-established, with a new tenacity and rigor, and the plans of the few are once again being enacted on the many.

n.. You voice a strong concern for Archbishop Spyridon's pension, trying to justify an illegal act by the current administration of not paying it. You then go on to tell us another untruth, that the current Archbishop does not draw a salary. Archbishop Demetrios draws a salary of $100,000 plus benefits plus car / house / travel allowances. As far as Archbishop Spyridon's salary, it is illegal to not enact on a decision, which was voted and overwhelmingly approved by the Archdiocesan Council. You know it, your friends know it, the current administration knows it and the rest of us know it as well. If you are so concerned over the "dent" that Archbishop Spyridon's pension places upon the budget of the Archdiocese, why not ask Archbishop Iakovos to take a cut on his close to half a million dollars per year retirement salary?

o.. Finally, you claim that after you (and your few wealthy but spiritually devoid friends) succeeded in getting rid of Archbishop Spyridon, "we dissenters quietly and quickly disbanded our organization and returned to the work of building our parishes, not to mention an archdiocese left in shambles". I guess if your non-stop attacks on Archbishop Spyridon (and your letter to the Editor of the Greek American) are your definition of "quiet" I would hope that none of us hear what you all sound like when you are loud...

Mr. Popps, I had the great misfortune of being present in a dinner during a rare visit of the current Archbishop to a parish. During the speeches following the dinner, I repeatedly heard the loud and obnoxious words of a few of your friends and followers (who of course had exclusive use of the microphone) on how the Church has now been "saved from the darkness of the abyss under the previous administration". I personally believe the opposite -- that your efforts and the strength of your wallets are attempting to lead us again into the spiritual abyss that Archbishop Spyridon had successfully reversed within our parishes. His work though has NOT will NOT perish. The flame has been lit and is burning quietly from New York to California, from Florida all the way to the Canadian borders. There is a great number of us who are patiently tolerating your kind, but let me tell you Sir, our number is NOT small and one day you and your GOAL associates will find out who and how many we truly are.

You need to read the Church history and see that His Church has survived much more than the efforts of a few wealthy, self-serving, self-appointed "leaders". You and your friends also need to know that the spiritual flame lit by Archbishop Spyridon and his staff is strengthening; one day it will engulf Greek Orthodox Christians across this great nation and when all of you are sitting around in your Masonic Lodges shaking hands and wandering "what happened" He will return to judge us all.

I close my reply to you Mr. Popps with some of the opening words of Archbishop Spyridon's resignation letter:

"In the course of any ministry that God delivers into the hands of a man, there comes a time when principle and truth cannot be risked above and beyond the integrity of the human spirit. These moments are the ones that define us as human persons, that make us what we are."

I pray that whatever reasons exist for you and your kind to go on with your un-Christian actions towards our previous Archbishop cease to exist and that you find it in your heart to ask for the mercy and forgiveness of our Lord via a confession to your Spiritual Father. May you and your circle of friends select this moment to re-define yourselves as Orthodox Christians and return in His path of Eternal Salvation.

George Karras

In the event that this letter gets published and Archbishop Spyridon sees it on the Internet, we wish to extend to him our humble thanks for all that he did, ask him for his continued prayers, inform him that we love him and terribly miss his spiritual leadership, and assure him that we continue to follow his instructions of praying for all, especially his enemies.

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