Orthodox Christian Laity - July 27, 2004

On Michael Jaharis's July 13, 2004 Commentary On New Charter

   By Evan Alevizatos Chriss

It is understandable that the leadership of the Archdiocese would issue a statement on the 2003 "NEW CHARTER" imposed upon the Archdiocese by the Patriarchate.

Logically such a statement would explain why the Patriarchate and the Archdiocese are not following past precedent set by Patriarchs Meletios, Basil, Photios and Dimitrios and Archbishops Alexander, Athenagoras and Iakovos with the 1922, 1927, 1931 and 1977 Charters, all of which were approved by both a Clergy-Laity Congress and the Patriarchate, or why Article XXIV of the 1977 Charter which requires that all revisions be the joint act of the Patriarchate and a Clergy-Laity Congress is being ignored.

Instead, Mr. Jaharis gives us a commentary filled with misstatement of historic facts, omission of pertinent events and misleading statements

Mr. Jaharis tries to convince us to believe that Archdiocesan Charters have been unilateral acts of the Patriarchate with no action or participation by the Clergy-Laity Congress. Histories of our Archdiocese written by Professor Paul Manolis, Dr. Lewis Patsavos and the late Bishop George Papaioannou unequivocally show that Mr. Jaharis is wrong.

Mr., Jaharis's whitewashed history of the Charter revision activities since 1995 is replete with factual errors and omission of important events

1. The Ad Hoc Charter Committee appointed in 1995 by Archbishop Iakovos produced a proposed Charter providing for an autonomous Archdiocese which was submitted to the Synod of Bishops and the Archdiocesan Council for review on December 13, 1995. Before this could occur, on December 21, 1995, the draft was denounced by the Patriarchate as an "uncanonical and secular fabrication" and, under the threat of "proper canonical sanctions", demanded its immediate withdrawal. On January 2, 1996 Archbishop Iakovos ordered the entire revision issue closed.

2. Mr. Jaharis incorrectly states that the1998 Clergy-Laity Congress "passed a resolution that the 1977 Charter should be revised." This is not so. The 1998 Congress resolution provided that the Bishops and clerical and lay representatives from each Diocese be added to the Charter Revision Committee appointed by Archbishop Spyridon.

3. The "Charter Commission" referred to by Mr. Jaharis as reviewing the 2000 Charter prepared by the Charter Committee appointed by Archbishop Demetrios met only one day in May, 2000. On that day, commission members were given copies of the 2000 Charter to review. At the end of the one day meeting, all copies of the Charter and all notes made by the members were collected from them.

4. The 2000 Charter providing for a semi-autonomous Archdiocese was sent to the Patriarchate for its review in June 2000. At the 2000 Clergy-Laity Congress, repeated and urgent requests from delegates for a copy of the 2000 Charter were denied. A resolution recommending that a workbook on the Charter be sent to the Parishes and for a special Congress to review it was adopted but never implemented. Subsequently the 2000 Charter was rejected by the Patriarchate and the Joint Charter Committee established.

5. The 2001 Joint Draft Charter was completed in June, 2001. It was kept secret [even from the Archdiocesan Council] until November 30, 2001.The Joint Draft did not include the 2000 Charter provisions for the election of Metropolitans by our Synod and for the election of Archbishops by the Patriarchate from three nominees chosen by our Synod.

6. Mr. Jaharis incorrectly states "the Clergy-Laity Congress overwhelmingly recommended to the Patriarchate that it grant the new 2003 Charter." The actual motion which was adopted requested the Patriarchate to grant the proposed Charter with such modifications as reflect the major concerns expressed by the Archdiocesan Council, the parishes and by this Clergy Laity Congress including the four points specifically outlined by Dr. Collis in the synthesis prepared by the Archdiocese."

The four Dr. Collis points were:
a. Continue lay and clergy participation in Archdiocesan governance.
b. All future Archbishops to have at least five years prior service in our Archdiocese.
c. All future Archbishops to be elected from three nominees chosen by our Synod.
d. All future Bishops to be elected by our Synod.

7. Notwithstanding Mr. Jaharis's incorrect statement to the contrary, the only amendment or modification made by the Los Angeles Congress which is included in the imposed 2003 "New Charter" is for the Congress to be held at least once every three years.

It is most unfortunate that the "Commentary on New Charter" by Mr. Jaharis published under the aegis of the Archdiocese has so many omissions of pertinent facts and actual misstatements. The Greek Orthodox faithful have a right to expect that commentaries and other information issued by the Archdiocese is factually correct. The publication of factually incorrect and misleading information by the Archdiocese seriously impairs its integrity and credibility. Whoever authorized the publication of Mr. Jaharis's commentary has caused serious harm to the Archdiocese.

[ Orthodox Truth | www.orthodox-truth.bugs3.com/art_53.html  -  July 27, 2004 ]