The National Herald - June 30-July 6, 2018

The Truth According to Archbishop Demetrios

By Antonis H. Diamataris

I am really glad that Archbishop Demetrios refutes, and indeed, in an unprecedented manner, our reporting, according to which he sent a message of possible rebellion, against the Ecumenical Patriarchate, through the Archdiocesan Council Vice President George Tsandikos.

And I am glad, regardless of the fact that he was forced to do it by the Patriarchate to which he declares now vows of faith in it: “the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, Geron of America,” he said in a press release, “are steadily and unshakably committed to the service and ministry of the people of God in the United States, under the care and love of the Mother Church, our Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.”

The result counts.

If he did not deny it, and deny it in such a strong way how could he continue as a representative of the Patriarchate in America?

We are sincerely saddened by the difficult situation in which our archbishop has placed himself, although we have been courteously encouraged him, with a front-page editorial, since October, to save what could be saved of his reputation, take on the responsibility that is his, and step aside.

But more than anything else we are saddened for our community and for the image that has been created domestically and internationally, at our expense.

Archbishop Demetrios stated a truth in the announcement he made, which give us the opportunity to put some things in their place:

He accuses us of criticizing the leadership of the Church “for many years.”

He says in particular that it is “…simply a continuation of the well-known and in every aspect unacceptable tactics which this newspaper has used for many years.”

It is indeed a fact hopefully known to all that the Herald has been criticizing, “for many years”, the leadership of our Archdiocese, as it should do, naturally when the facts dictate, each time for different reasons.

Specifically, in the case of the late Archbishop Iakovos because, while we believed he could create a powerful church, financially independent anchored in a well run educational system, institutionalising the teaching of the Greek language, he did not.

And it is a pity because, as we believed –and was verified by later events– he was the only one who could do it because of his prestige and the strong personality he possessed.
As far as Spyridon is concerned, we criticized him because even though though he possessed important qualifications, he was, due to his character, inappropriate for the Archdiocese of America.

And we were right.

Now with regard to Demetrios, the Herald supported his candidacy for the Archdiocese as the most suitable among the other candidates
and supported him for at least the first five years of his term of office, despite the fact that his substantial shortcomings became apparent much earlier.

However we wanted to exhaust all the avenues, give him every chance. We hit the alarm several times, we warned him that the policy he was following would inevitably lead to a deadlock.

We do not pretend to be prophets. But you do not have to be a prophet to understand some simple numbers, such as that when you increase your expenses unchecked at difficult times for our communities, sooner or later you will be led to a deadlock.

And you do not have to be a prophet to understand that the survival of the Archdiocese cannot depend on the generosity of a handful of very well meaning individuals without taking steps to increase its revenue with the spirituality and the programs that will bring the people back to the Church.

Yes, the Archbishop is right. Indeed, we followed this policy, but not the way he means it but out of love, respect, and gratitude to the Greek community, the pure religious feeling of which has often been the subject of wild exploitation.

We did nothing more than our jobs.

And we did not ask for anything in return from the Archdiocese, which not only did not support us, as it should have done, as the only Greek language daily newspaper of the Hellenes living abroad, and as the only major English language newspaper of our community, but instead it fought us, and continues fighting us furiously, as if it were going to win if we closed our doors.

Yet, contrary to what His Eminence expected, we did not bend and we were not deprived of the support of the community.

Let me state it as simple as possible: if the Herald has an interest, it is identical to the interest of our Archdiocese and the interests of our community.

It is in the interests of all of us that unity prevails, that there is a strong ecclesiastical leadership that inspires and guides us, paves the way for our identity to be preserved, to make us proud of who we are, of what we represent.

The bankruptcy of the Archdiocese profoundly damages the community beyond the material aspect: it exposes us in our children’s eyes, which keeps them away from our Church. It exposes us in the eyes of Greeks internationally and exposes us to the eyes of society in general.

This, Your Eminence, is what we have been trying “for many years” to prevent with our criticism of you. This is indeed our job. Had we failed to do it we would not be worth the trust of our community.

And instead of thanking us, you are attacking us brutally.

If we ever asked you for help, if we ever criticized you dishonestly, even if I ever mentioned to you the challenges that we, as a newspaper, are facing, all you have to do is come out and denounce us.
But you know very well, as your predecessors knew, that this has never happened and will never happen.
At least not as long as we are at the helm of this historic foundation of Hellenism.

[ The National Herald - June 30-July 6, 2018 - p. 12 ]

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