Orthodox News - September 30, 2004
St. Andrew House Discussion Forum - October 1, 2004
Orthodox Christian Laity - October 6, 2004


By Katherine G. Valone

National Herald correspondent, Theodore Kalmoukos reports in his column appearing in the September 24 issue that His All Holiness, Patriarch Bartholomaios of Constantinople, has made serious criticisms against His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in New York which accuses the Archbishop of serious shortcomings concerning the recent Clergy-Laity Congress.

The Patriarch upbraided the Archbishop for neglecting to conduct the Congress in the Greek language, " . . . all those days of the Clergy-Laity Congress you did not use one single word of Greek," and of neglecting to use the Greek language in the execution of the work of the GOA!

Furthermore, the Archbishop has neglected to make Greek a priority in educating the graduates of Holy Cross Theological School and cities that when the graduates visited the Phanar this year they could not converse in basic Greek. In addition, when the wife of the Greek Prime Minister, Natasha Karamanlis visited a school in Astoria she spoke to the pupils in Greek, "but you your Eminence addressed her in English . . . why do you not want the Greek language?" whereupon the Archbishop replied before the Holy Synod "There are no more people in America who understand Greek. Today's generation is a different generation." The Patriarch disagreed and strongly recommended that he change his approach on the issue.

Apparently the Patriarch's highest priority as spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America is to propagate the Greek language first and foremost. Nothing in Mr. Kalmoukos' article states a concern for propagating the Orthodox faith and nothing about preaching Jesus Christ to the people. Think of how extraordinarily strange this is!

Another annoyance of the Patriarch was the fact that at the Clergy-Laity Congress banquet the Archbishop allowed Metropolitan Philip to address the people and spread his propaganda in favor of establishing an autocephalous Orthodox Church in America! When the Archbishop replied that he asked Metropolitan Philip to address the banquet because he was vice chairman of SCOBA ( the Standing Council of Canonical Bishops in the Americas) the Patriarch's reply was, "You should have stopped him!" whereupon the Archbishop said he was the one who insisted that the Metropolitan speak at the banquet. Apparently the Patriarch expected Demetrios to shut him off in his speech because autocephaly is a definite no-no on the Patriarch's agenda. How indicative this all is of the Patriarch's inflexibility and his character which does not allow freedom of speech. I believe he has lived too long in Turkey and has absorbed that country's attitude of limited freedom of the right to express differing opinions. Did the Patriarch honestly think that the Archbishop should jump up and voice his difference of opinion? But we all know that the word autocephaly is a hot button. This is the greatest fear of the Patriarch, that of a free and independent GOA.

The Patriarch's greatest nightmare is the loss of financial support from the Church in America. One gets the impression that the Archbishop is expected to keep his finger in the dike so the wall will not collapse and the Archdiocese collapse. The Patriarch then brings up the annual contribution of $500,000 that the Archdiocese sends annually to the Patriarchate. (What of the large sums given by individuals directly to the Patriarchate?) Apparently the Archbishop was to bring up the subject of increasing the allocation to the Phanar at the Clergy-Laity Congress which the Patriarch says was not even mentioned to the delegates. The Patriarch also said the Metropolitans of America said they collected money for the Patriarchate and sent it through the Archdiocese but it did not reach the Phanar. Thus the Metropolitans are keeping "their side of the bargain." Poor Archbishop Demetrios.

Next the Patriarch scolds Archbishop Demetrios for the "rosy" picture painted of the proceedings of the Clergy-Laity Congress. The GOA and the Chancellor, His Grace Bishop Savas, tell us how victorious the Archdiocese was in winning the court case that the 33 plaintiffs brought before the Supreme Court in New York and how peaceful and united the Clergy-Laity Congress was. The opposition of the Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL) was just a few disgruntled Orthodox.

A south side priest in Chicago from the pulpit called the OCL "liars". That same priest never had a general assembly before the Clergy-Laity Congress to let his parishioners even know about the Supreme Court case but instead misused the pulpit which is only for sermons about the Gospels of Christ, and not for gloating and insulting the clergy and laity for trying to save the Church from its failure to reach their MEMBERS which GOA refused to acknowledge existed. We have lost many members, even generations! And, I am sure we will lose even more each day because our Archdiocese is being ruled by a Patriarch who has a different agenda from that of the truly Orthodox Church.

If the Patriarch is upset with the way the Chancellor (Bishop Savas) is dealing with various issues of an ecclesiastical and administrated nature, that shows an interesting development. Could our Archdiocese be so fragmented that everyone (such as the metropolitans) and even the chancellor are doing their own thing? Is not the Patriarch responsible for the disunity of the Archdiocese? I do not blame the Archbishop for not being able to govern the Archdiocese. He cannot deal with the issue as long as the Patriarch has his agenda, the metropolitans have their mundane fiefdom to govern, and accomplish very little because they deal with the smaller picture and not the larger issues such as dealing with the people's spiritual life. The Lord Christ is mentioned in all Church services but no one knows who Christ really is and how we are to live "in Christ, " "for Christ," and care for one another.

How come we never hear anything spiritual from the Patriarch? He has reduced himself to being a C.E.O. not a spiritual shepherd of the Lord's people.

Mr. Kalmoukos speaks of the "dysphoria" of the Patriarch during Archbishop Demetrios' visit to Constantinople in August at the Phanar. The word dysphoria is defined as "impatience" and " anxiety". The Archbishop delivered to the Patriarch a "peaceful Clergy-Laity Congress " with the charter not even being discussed and the new Uniform Parish Regulations passed very quickly because the Congress was running out of time! And what was the Patriarch's response? The Greek language not being taught or spoken, that "autocephaly" and unity of all Orthodoxy was allowed to be spoken of at the banquet, and don't forget the money you (the Archbishop) promised.

Perhaps some of American Synodal Metropolitans there were each telling the Archbishop where he is failing. The Metropolitans who were there were probably defending themselves while criticizing the poor beleaguered Archbishop.

I detect that things are falling apart. The calm before the storm is here now but the storm will come. I say to the Archbishop, if you speak up for, and stand up for your flock in America we will support you while many in the hierarchy abandon you as they did the former Archbishop Spyridon when it came to their titles and their financial security. In the end, the people, the conscientious priests, and the OCL will be your only friends - but they are the majority. Press on Your Eminence and fight the good fight. We will support you.

[ Orthodox Truth - www.orthodox-truth.bugs3.com/art_67.html - September 30, 2004 ]