Monomakhos - February 24, 2012

Words Fail Me

Just when it was becoming inconceivable to me that the GOA could not possibly plumb any further the depths of intellectual mediocrity, they now discombobulate me further by throwing the remainder of their moral authority into the abyss with the following press release:

A powerful message and historical insights by Archon Bill Tragos.
-Fr Alex

Germany’s Fingerspitzengefühl Deficit Risks World Crisis

The Huffington Post
By Bill Tragos

Wikipedia defines that wonderful German expression as “describing a great situational awareness, and the ability to respond most appropriately and tactfully.”

Imagine prostrate Greece thinking she deserves kid glove treatment considering her political leaders,’ all parties, lying for decades. Her upper echelon citizens demonstrating no patriotism, cheating their government.

Why should the Greeks be granted any leeway?

The country’s crushing history.

Skip over the first 1500 years of Greek civilization, we get enough of that from our museum visits or reading what Nietzsche thinks is owed the Greeks; forget stopping the conquest of the west by a despotic Persian empire outnumbered 9 to 1 at Marathon; let’s not bother with how Greek culture absorbed Rome’s eastern empire making it a Greek-speaking Byzantium that lasted over 1100 years; or how their Christian brothers of the west sacked the Christian capital of the east,Constantinople, hastening her fall in 1453, sparking the exodus of her scholars to western Europe. The happy coincidence of the appearance of Guttenberg’s press that same year igniting the renaissance.

Forget Socrates and Alexander and the Parthenon. That’s so long ago as to be irrelevant history, right?

Let’s get to modern times.

The Greeks were the first to cast off the yoke of 5 centuries of Ottoman enslavement of southwest Europe.

We recognize the damage to a black man’s psyche in America after 200 years of slavery. Imagine what 400 years did to the Greeks, how normal, necessary lying and cheating and bribing were to survival.

Greece fought against the Kaiser’s Germany in WW1 while Turkey did not, and at the Paris Peace conference was awarded much of the 3000-year Greek lands in Turkey. Which she promptly lost because the dumb, vain king (German) went for more at the urging of Lloyd George and Clemenceau.

Greeks haven’t talked about their genocide at the hands of modern Turkey. They lost hundreds of thousands in those well-documented Armenian death marches. And then there was the destruction of 700,000 Pontic Greeks on the Black Sea, and hundreds of thousands on Turkey’s Aegean coast.

As recently as 1955, thousands of Greeks were ethnically cleansed out of Istanbul.

World War Two. Greece’s demolition of Mussolini’s attempted invasion gave the Allies their first victory.

Then the Greeks fought the Germans to the death all the way to Crete and held up Hitler’s invasion of Russia, The Russians know, as does the German military how that contributed to Hitler’s failure in Russia.

Greece paid for that dearly. One-eighth of her population starved to death or was executed in reprisals for her relentless resistance. Payback the other way, in the form of German reparations payments for her destruction of that country never materialized. Maybe Greeks should consider the Euro bailout led by Germany as an installment payment on Germany’s debt?

And even as Greece was being liberated from the Nazi occupation, the Communist-led civil war broke out lasting 3 years, killing many more thousands.

Greeks didn’t stop fighting after that fratricide ended, sending the first foreign military contingents to join the Americans in Korea.

And all through those years her young people emigrated to chance building a better life as had so many throughout her history. To Germany as gastarbeiters, America as greasy Greeks slinging hamburgers or working on the railroads, or Australia as wogs. And yet look at the accomplishments of the children of these diaspora Greeks in each country. Matched only by the diaspora Jews.

And still her western allies think Greece petty when she fights to lose no more of her heritage. There was no Slavic language or people at the time of Alexander. He and his court spoke Greek. His teacher was Aristotle. Greeks are supposed to think it’s OK to give the name of Alexander’s kingdom to a non-Greek state?

Greece has been forced to spend the highest percentage of her GDP on defense of any country in the world, because she cannot be sure of her NATO allies help in the event of a Turkish invasion. Remember another batch of dumb Greek politicians and their Cyprus fiasco, and how Kissinger saw to it that Greece’s most important ally, the USA, sat on her hands and did nothing?

And yet Greek and Turkish friendship is not a hard sell to the young people of those countries. Check out college campuses in the USA, Canada, England or Germany, in which foreign students room together, are best friends, Greek and Turkish. We need to understand why that happens and why that must give hope, despite their long, tragic shared history.

You want to cut Greece’s deficit? Start by cutting defense spending by 90%.

Give the remainder to Israel and let her station her troops in Greece. Both are prisoners of their geography. Cutting defense would mean she doesn’t buy three more German atomic subs or 20 more French built ships. Dumb/corrupt Greek politicians? Or is it a form of blackmail?

Greece needs Europe to be as brilliant and generous as America when the Truman Doctrine saved that country and Turkey from Communism. Because Greece’s road to recovery will be long and painful.

Greece needs the strongest economy in Europe to remember its own history, not so beautiful: two world wars and a vicious holocaust.

Germany needs to remember that her economic recovery was not achieved by Germanic frugality and work ethic alone (the average Greek workweek is 33% longer).

Germany owns the record as the default champion of Europe, despite being bailed out after the second world war by its conquerors.

Germany, the country that cost the world so much pain and suffering and loss needs to copy American/Allied attitudes of generosity and compassion in dealing with Greece.

Greece’s pain inflicted on the rest of us today could be described as what in comparison to Germany’s?

There is no stain in the millennia of Greece’s history.

In fact it is that track record of accomplishment over 3500 years that encourages her people. And should make it possible for Germany and Europe to be as sensitive in the coming years as if possessing a little fingerspitzengefühl.

Only dumb politicians ignoring history would bet against this old, stubborn, proud people. “The Greeks took Troy because they never stopped trying” – Theocritus 254 BC. Nothing has changed. It’s a character trait to be admired and respected.

Words fail me.

This drivel is breathtaking in its stupidity. To try and dispute it would cause my head to explode. It was obviously written by some left-winger who either did not graduate high school or is off his meds. It looks like the GOA couldn’t find some decent academic from Holy Cross to write it. Heck, the universities are clogged with Greek-Americans and none of them could be dragooned into writing this piece of bovine feces. As to why a first-rate blog like The Huffington Post (with which I am almost never in agreement with) would let its editorial judgment lapse to such a degree is a matter for another day. (I suspect that they used the offices of Frank Schaeffer, who’s most recent oeuvre is just as febrile and in-your-face as that of this author’s.) I guess Paul Krugman had nothing hysterical to write that day so they had to make do with something lunatic from a less notable figure. Think of it an affirmative-action hire. Besides, Progressives are always on the lookout for the next Official Victim Group and pickings have been awfully slim for the NPR crowd what with Muslim fanatics going berserk over burned Korans. Besides, if you’re a nation who threw away your sovereignty for a mess of pottage and Euros, you might get some slack by playing the Victim Card. Hey, it’s worth a try. It’s worked for other Oppressed PeopleTM so why not give it a go?

This however is neither here nor there. It is beyond ridiculous to presume that Greeks worldwide are victims. Our concern is more immediate, and that is why would the GOA put this out as a press-release? The answer may very well be that it didn’t really want to. If you will notice at the top, it was released in the name of the GOA by Fr Alexander Karloutsos, the Macchiavel who functions as a sort of papal legate within the GOA. In reality, he is the man who really runs the show. Yet another legacy of the Culture Club that is the post-Iakovon, new and improved, ethnocentric GOA. (In fact, it was he who engineered the removal of Iakovos in 1996.)

This brings up important points.

•  First and most obvious one being that in commandeering the press office of the GOA and signing his name to this hysterical screed, Karloutsos was signifying something important to all who know how to read the tea leaves. Think of it as a shot across the bow.
•   Second, there is a confluence between his interests and those of the Archon/Leadership 100 class. Several of these men have vital interests in Greece (full disclosure: I do as well). With Greece going down the tubes, they stand to lose significantly to the Germans who are already buying up prime real estate at rock-bottom prices.
•  Third (and most nefarious) the Greek government is leaning on the GOA and its surrogates to help bail them out pronto. Make no mistake, it is the Patriarchate of Constantinople which unleashed Karloutsos on the GOA and it is the Greek government which leaned on the Phanar to do so. Lest anyone think that this is preposterous, he would do well to remember that the leaden hand of the Greek government on the GOA is not a novel proposition. Indeed it is par for the course. As is well-known, it was the Greek government which leaned on then-Metropolitan (now Patriarch) Bartholomew to turn away the leaders of the Evangelical Orthodox Church when they visited Istanbul some twenty-five years ago. The reason of course was to maintain the ethnic purity of the GOA.

Please understand, the people of Greece are really suffering. That they threw away the inheritance in exchange for riotous living paid for by Euros is no reason for us to be judgmental. Like the Prodigal Son, they will spend time in the pigsty, even going so far as to envy the husks that the swine eat. I fear that that we here in America are about to do the same thing with the reelection of the incumbent president (who thanks to vote fraud, illegal immigration, and liberal white guilt will be granted another four years at the White House, allowing his dependents to continue to feed at the Federal trough). If such proves to be the case, then our own comeuppance is inevitable as well.

We have a season however of relative calm before the storm hits. I suggest that if you are a Greek-American or a Philhellene, that you send whatever you can to a person in Greece whom you know, be it friend, relative, or trusted acquaintance. If they don’t need the money, perhaps they know someone who does. This is important because if you cut a check to some national organization (whether Greek or American), there is a real possibility that it might not get there. The kleptocracy in Greece would merely line their own pockets or send it directly to their Swiss bank accounts. As for the GOA, their books are (how shall we say it?) notoriously opaque. And we must never forget that “fees” are always collected at every stage of the transaction.

Ultimately of course, this brings us to the elephant in the room which we here in America are always averse in talking about: that the Assembly of Bishops was nothing but a ruse to stifle American unity and autocephaly and, failing that, to permanently tether the American Orthodoxy to Istanbul and its cult of Byzantine nostalgia. The exposure of Karloutsos in this affair however was a gaffe, a desperation move on the part of Istanbul. Being the puppet-master of the GOA, he has always worked best behind the scenes, lurking in the shadows, otherwise the jig would be up and we would know what the real pecking order is. It’s very probable that the GOA wasn’t on board with the whole idea so Karloutsos was forced to take matters into his own hands. Regardless, the situation in Greece is so dire and the GOA’s response so lackluster, that he had to expose himself, consequences be damned. It’s important to remember that he doesn’t have a real title and he isn’t anywhere in the organizational flow-chart of the GOA. It’s just a fact of life that he’s Patriarch Bartholomew’s boy and it is through his offices that power really flows.

In the event, the fact that he had to show his hand will prove to be a bracing corrective for those who have heretofore been optimistic about the immediate future vis-a-vis the Assembly of Bishops. Like a splash of cold water on an ardent suitor, this most recent, maladroit step by a rogue element within the GOA will hastily set things in their proper perspective. For those who were wondering when the follow-up on the recent communique from the Assembly regarding the tyrannical dictates of the Dept of Health and Human Services will come, they need look no further. That statement was a one-off, hastily put together by the Assembly because the embarrassment was too great. It was a good first step but it was followed by two steps back. And for those within the GOA who think otherwise, Karloutsos and his ilk will always be there to remind them what the real purpose of the GOA is: to serve as paid political agents of the Greek government and their handmaidens in the Leadership 100. Everything else is window-dressing.

Oh, one last thing. I know some German too: Wienerschnitzel!



Carl Kraeff says:
February 28, 2012 at 8:49 am

Interesting development and I do not mean the article itself, which is an incoherent mess. I looked all over the GOA site and I could not find Father Alexander’s office. I did find in a news article about the meeting between the Archbishop and the President of Turkey, that Father Alexander was “Assistant to the Archbishop for Public Affairs.” I also saw at his parish web site that Archbishop Justinian of the ROC and his clergy visited Father Alexander’s church and served a DL entirely in Church Slavonic. He is in pictures with important political leaders, etc… So, why even bother to hide him in plain sight, when he is plainly an important person? He is not even in the belly of the horse, he is leading it on by the reins! So, why is Constantinople playing this sort of a game? It seems to me that the message is that the GOA is not to be trusted without a nanny.


Jacob says:
March 1, 2012 at 9:08 am


In the spirit of full disclosure, and maybe you have already done so somewhere on Monomahkos, but may I ask, is there some “bad blood” between you and Fr. Alex that is the basis for this story? Are you working out some “unfinished” business from your days in the GOA?

«the Macchiavel who functions as a sort of papal legate within the GOA»

«Third (and most nefarious) the Greek government is leaning on the GOA and its surrogates to help bail them out pronto.»

Fr Alex makes no bones about his support of the EP. He is upfront in his role and what he does. No one who knows Fr. Alex would be surprised by his support for the EP and his loyalty in Pat. Bartholomew. His role is to support the work of the EP here in the USA. You may not like his role and you are free to disagree, but your loaded language (Macchiavel…..papal legate) sadly reminds me of similar language used by a now defunct website to whip his followers into action against Met. Jonah.

As for your assertion (and most nefarious) about the GOA helping the Greek government, the GOA has a very transparent donation button on its homepage. Frankly, I don’t think that there is enough money if all the Archons gave all their money to bail out Greece. If people want to help those suffering in Greece, as the Russian Orthodox Church has also done, I don’t see obvious “nefarious” motives. However, if you can produce such dark motives, then you should.

How this all plays out in terms of Orthodox Unity in the USA may be another story, but that is not what you wrote about. Are Greeks interested in administrative unity in the USA? Maybe they are, maybe not. But at this point the Greek Archdiocese is spearheading the work of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America. They are keeping the work going and active in making sure that, for example, the content of the ACOB is fresh so that people can learn more, and in particular, listen to the members of ACOB, the bishops, in their own words. They are riding herd on the ACOB committees to make sure they are doing their work in preparation for the next full meeting of ACOB.

As you know, I have been a supporter of this site in its efforts to provide balance and other points of view when such opinions were silenced by another site that is now defunct and its webmaster being sued. I just think that your not so subtle reference to Fr. Alex as a “Godfather” figure stems from a deeper history and thus colors your portrayal. If I am wrong, please forgive me.


George Michalopulos says:
March 1, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Good question, Jacob. I don’t know Fr Alex and wouldn’t be able to spot him from a line-up. My information for him comes from my time in the OCL and my numerous GOA priest-friends. While I can’t say that he’s a nefarious fellow I have never heard anything of a positive nature about him from anybody in the GOA.



George Michalopulos says:
March 2, 2012 at 7:05 am

Jacob, I believe I was too glib with my answers. Your points deserved more thoughtful responses. Here goes:

Your assertion that Fr Karloutsos is being “loyal” to the EP needs to be dissected. Shouldn’t he, as a priest in the GOA be loyal to his bishop (in this case Arb Demetrios)? In bringing this up, you inadvertently bring up the central problem of the GOA, and that is that it is merely an eccesial colony of a foreign patriarchate. That this patriarchate is controlled by a hostile power is bothersome as well but this argument is not central to the point at hand but merely tangential.
My sources in the GOA tell me that not only was he instrumental in getting rid of the former archbishop, but that anytime one of the Leadership 100/Archons complains about a bishop, he goes to bat for the Archon(s) and forces the bishop to back down. And Bartholomew always backs up Karloutsos.

Besides the intellectual vapidity of Tragos’ screed, I was offended by the fact that Karloutsos used the GOA’s letterhead to put this out. Even though this is not on the GOA’s website, this proves to me that he operates essentially as a rogue element, doing what he wants when he wants.

If nothing else, this does not display the “good order fo the Church.”


Jacob says:
March 2, 2012 at 10:47 am

In terms of your assertion about being loyal to his Archbishop, Demetrios, I believe the proof is in the pudding. He has one of the fastest growing churches in the GOA in the Hamptons on Long Island. In fact, they have outgrown their old church (not that old) and are embarking on the construction of a new temple.

No doubt he relies on his son-in-law Fr Constantine to do a great deal of the day-to-day running of the parish, but also no doubt that Fr Alex and Presbytera Xanthi are two of the hardest working priest and priest wife couples I have ever seen. Most would buckle under such a schedule. I don’t think that anyone who attends his parish feel cheated because his first love and first calling is standing in front of the altar he has been assigned to and to serve and be a pastor to his people.

Is he tough? When he needs to be. He is good at what he does? Yes he is. He is disliked? You bet because he doesn’t take any crap, especially from bishops. Sadly, critics of Fr Alex all to often react out of envy. I have seen it firsthand and it is too bad.

I have also seen Fr Alex give of his time, talents and own money to help scores of people. He has a myriad of contacts and he has used those contacts to help people get jobs, get into colleges, and help those who need help. He does this without fanfare and thus to portray him as this “nefarious” character is just not accurate.

As we all know, bishops sometimes do stupid things, even illegal things, and as we also know, some of them never think that they ever make a mistake nor change their ways. So when a person, even an Archon objects to something, and that bishop is in the wrong, would not we all enjoy an advocate for what is right.

As to your conclusion about the GOA being eccesial colony of a foreign patriarchate it is also true that the Greek Archdiocese is out front with the ACOB. Whether it will finally bear the fruit of a administratively united Orthodox Church in the USA, no one knows. But if it were not for the GOA now, ACOB would be no better than SCOBA, but ACOB has already surpassed SCOBA in its visibility and potential, and this is because those foreign patriachates decided that the Church in those parts of the world in a confused canonical situation need to get their act together, start meeting and start setting their own agenda. Remember, if this ACOB here in the USA and CA say we want to be independent, then the ball is put right back into those foreign patriarchate’s lap. We have never had this opportunity before. To me that is an important step.


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