Greek America This Week - February 10, 2003

Spyridon Not Granted Permission to Celebrate
Divine Liturgy in New York During His Visit

According to official correspondence between former Archbishop of America Spyridon and Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, permission was not granted to Spyridon to celebrate Divine Liturgy during his recent visit to New York for the launching of a cultural foundation in his name.

A priest of an Archdiocese parish based in the New York area, who asked to remain anonymous, noted that Archbishop Demetrios' passing the issue to the Patriarchate was not the proper procedure and added that "as long as I have ever been a priest here, no hierarch --including retired Archbishop Iakovos-- has ever had to get permission from the Patriarch to perform his sacred obligation of Sunday liturgy."

In his first correspondence, Spyridon notified Demetrios about his upcoming trip to New York to help launch a foundation in his name and asked permission to celebrate the Divine Liturgy at Holy Cross Church in Brooklyn on Sunday, February 1, 2003, explaining that many people had invited him there.

Demetrios responded that Spyridon must contact the Ecumenical Patriarchate for permission since only the Patriarchate can grant such permission for him to celebrate Divine Liturgy.

In his response, Spyridon emphasized that he is a retired hierarch and that retired hierarchs with no diocesan responsibilities do not ask the Patriarchate for permission to leave dioceses they do not have or govern.

Moreover, Spyridon added in his letter that the authorization must bear the signature of the Archbishop of America and not the Patriarch's, since the Holy Cross Church in Brooklyn fell under Demetrios' jurisdiction.

Furthermore, Spyridon commented in his letter to Demetrios that he himself, as Archbishop of America, never denied his predecessor (Archbishop Iakovos), or for that matter any other hierarch from the U.S., Greece or any other country permission to celebrate in the U.S.

In closing his response to Demetrios, Spyridon asked that the whole matter be considered "definitively closed" since the issue seemed to have created a serious problem for Demetrios and "this should not have been the case."

The anonymous priest recalled that never in his nearly two decades of service to the Church was he aware of a hierarch ever being denied a request to perform Divine Liturgy at a church that he was to visit.

Spyridon was Archbishop of America for three years before a power struggle and uprising by his fellow American hierarchs, many priests of the Archdiocese and a well-organized movement of lay people of the Church helped force his resignation.

Greek America has requested an explanation from Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and will be published, should one be received.

[ Greek America This Week - February 10, 2003 (#30) - p. 6 ]