TGA News - February 5, 2003

Spyridon: The solitude of an Archbishop


NEW YORK.- On February 2 the Holy Cross church in Brooklyn welcomed in its altar an Archbishop who was refused the right to celebrate the Divine Liturgy. It is perhaps the first time that our Church stretching the limits of humiliation referred an officiating hierarch to another jurisdiction not provided for by the canonical praxis of the Church.

Spyridon, after three years of absence, asked for canonical authorization to liturgize in New York, his former diocese. He wrote to the appropriate authority, Archbishop Dimitrios who in essence refused to grant such authorization. It is well known that as a retired hierarch, Spyridon did not need an authorization from a higher ecclesiastical authority but rather from the Archbishop responsible for New York. A brother hierarch referred him to their ecclesiastical authority because some years ago “he had not complied” with their wishes!

An Archbishop in his loneliness. He followed the Divine Liturgy like the humblest of priests at Holy Cross, sending thrills of emotion over those attending the divine ceremony. When for a fleeting moment the faithful got a glimpse of his back at the Royal Doors during Holy Communion, their eyes were filled with tears. And they were taken by grief as they saw the Hierarch genuflect three times before partaking of the “blood of Christ” from the Holy Chalice. The Hierarch had bent --one would have thought-- overwhelmed by the sacred burden of the moment.

The last act of this odd Liturgy was played by the magnificent Byzantine chanter of Holy Cross when he chanted “Ton Despotin” for Spyridon. His melodious and slow-motioned voice stuck for what seemed almost a century on the words “Eis Polla Eti Despota”. Because as long as the Church refuses to allow Spyridon to liturgize for his former flock, in the people’s hearts he will always remain their Hierarch, their Despotis!

*)  Justine Frangouli-Argyris is the author of Archbishop Spyridon’s biography The Lonely Path of Integrity (Exandas Publishers).

[ TGA News - - February 5, 2003 ]