Orthodox Truth - [ Early 2001 ]

Letter to the Editor

Mary J. Nennis defends the "unjustly persecuted"
former GOA Archbishop Spyridon

Dear Editor:

Webster's dictionary does use the word "uncompromising" as stated by Dr. Valerie Karras. In Greek though, it means uncompromising in one's value's and ethics, therefore our western concept of integrity is better suited.

I respect Barbara Colessides' education as I also respect Dr. Valerie Karras' and as such I would not intentionally lie or pass rumors that they are otherwise, regardless of the differences in our logic and ideals of Christian virtue. What I would like to know though, is why couldn't they have this same productive attitude towards Archbishop Spyridon? Valerie Karras has a Doctorate and is an expert in her specific discipline. Shouldn't it have been made known that Archbishop Spyridon's education was equivalent to at least five doctorates? Why were these things hidden from us and not mentioned, regardless of whether his excessive humility would not have wanted them to be? Instead, his humility was found to be so threatening that he had to be labeled the opposite and called "arrogant". Also, why is Dr. Karras deliberately degrading the author of the book?

Why were all of Archbishop Spyridon's attributes, attributes that would have been highly beneficial to his station as Archbishop, hidden? Isn't it time that the members of the Greek Orthodox Church in America began to learn all the facts so that they could make their own decision? Shouldn't they, as well as you Dr. Karras, have the courage, as an educated person, to read his biography? A biography that does not slander or condemn anyone, but merely states the day by day occurrences. What is it that people like Barbara and Valerie find so frightening? Are they afraid that they might have been wrong or maybe even duped? Or is it that he did not espouse their idea's and that this was not beneficial to them or their friends?

Is it possible that all his accomplishments and virtues, (such as not accepting gifts, and preferring to have them given to the poor) were "paranoically" perceived as being deliberately undermining, by those who lacked those virtues? Could it be possible that certain hierarchs and clerics were threatened by his overwhelming attributes? If so, where is the peace that they should have had, if they are truly with God?

Throughout his tenure, I heard and read that he was incompetent, merely because he refused to use unchristian political means to acquire a desired end. A "means" that would have eliminated the Holy Spirit in the works of the church. It appears that these people, who had imposed their will on the church, were highly threatened. They ignored his fluency in the different Greek languages as well as his thorough knowledge of German, Italian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. I can only wonder what they would consider competent? I for one, found myself highly intimidated by his vocabulary in English when he was interviewed by a reporter of another denomination. Certainly you Dr. Karras, as a highly educated person, would understand the arrogance of anyone putting themselves as the judge and jury of Archbishop Spyridon's competency, based on his education alone?

What about all his organizational accomplishments, the ones that are now being coveted by others and being claimed as their own? Didn't he reorganize St. Basil's Academy, and what about him having formed a Greek lobby among other things? I ask Barbara and Dr. Karras, can these malicious and covetous acts be considered Christian? Isn't Christianity a matter of one's heart?

He slept only three hours a night because of excessive work, so he had to be lied about and called lazy. He blessed every congregation throughout the country with his presence, regardless of how poor and inconsequential the parishes were, so he had to be persecuted by those who did otherwise. Instead, what we hear and read, is that he gave the Archdiocese a $7,000,000 debt that must now be undone by Archbishop Demetrios. It is a known fact that the debt was inherited by Arch. Spyridon. Again the lie's! Tell me, have any of these people read the "Ten Commandments? Are these the people that are now spiritually guiding our church?

We were told that he was not an American and that he could not possible understand our American church. Of all the lies, this is the most absurd. I always thought that in order to formulate ones thoughts within a certain cultural context, one must be nurtured in that culture before the age of 21. Not only was he culturally American, he was also a product of the Greek American subculture, and a product of Greece, making him the most suitable for the position of an Archbishop of the Greek American community. Also his conservativism and spirituality made him ideal for the highly devout converts. Is that why those, who seem to lack a positive and objective Christian perspective, decided to have him eliminated? Was it done as a deliberate affront to us as Americans, because this is what we wanted and needed in an Archbishop. Did they simply want to play games by convincing us that he did not have these qualifications? In other words, did they arrogantly decide that we are ignorant, inconsequential, and simply didn't matter? That they, and they alone, were in a position to form Our Lord's church in the image they wanted, and went out to deliberately control everyone's minds by lies and deception? Isn't this cultic and evil?

I even heard that his voice, which was praised as being worthy of an anchorman, was being mocked. Isn't deliberate degradation of another, a form of control? Can mocking ever be a Christian trait? I think not, and then, with a mentality reminiscent of the Nazi regime.

Archbishop Spyridon was slandered to the American press in order to cover up their actions. They tried to make it appear, through sly insinuations, that he was ousted because he had committed the same sins that they themselves were committing. Tell me Barbara Colessides and Dr. Valerie Karras, are these things Christian?

We, and by that I mean those who see the unjustness done to Archbishop Spyridon, will not criticize the Archbishop that came before him nor the one that came after him, and believe me it isn't because of a lack of awareness of their innumerable limitations. So I should ask them not to take pride in that they were politically astute, but rather, it is simply a matter of our hearts. As true Christians we cannot lie, slander or impose our wills on others, but that does not hinder us in going to the defense of those unjustly persecuted.

As for Archbishop Spyridon, and the National Herald's labeling of him as the "uncompromising one", I have to remind them that there have been thousands just as uncompromising that came before him, starting with Jesus. So no matter how hard they try to erase his name from the records, it simply won't work. Contrary to those, whose faith lies only in themselves, there is still a God above.

Mary J. Nennis
Brooklyn, NY

[ Orthodox Truth - www.orthodox-truth.bugs3.com/art_43.html - {Early 2001} ]