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Analysis: An End and a Beginning in Chicago

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His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos, with His Grace Bishop Demetrios (right) and Father Apostolos Georgiafentis (standing) greet the crowd and student “Agrafon” award recipients at the 2014 Hellenic Letters Luncheon in Chicago.

Source: The National Herald

Theodoros Kalmoukos

On June 2, Metropolitan Iakovos fell asleep in the Lord. He was 89. It all happened so quickly, in just two days from the time he felt ill. He is the second hierarch in a very short period to pass away, and at an advanced age. Metropolitan Philotheos of Meloa died just two weeks earlier, at 93.

Metropolitan Iakovos’ departure – he served the Chicago Metropolis for 38 years – marks an end for the local Church of Chicago and a new beginning will soon be inaugurated.

It is widely known more or less what has gone on in the Metropolis, especially over the last ten years. I will not go into details today. Simply let me remind everyone here that the Metropolis is big in numbers, money, and expenses. The potential was huge, but not realized.

It is imperative that the Metropolis should exit from its downhill and withering situation and be reborn. That presupposes the election of a hierarch who is gifted, competent, and ethical in every aspect of the word, and certainly prudent and humble, and who will act in a healing way. A hierarch who will embrace the people, inspire the priests, and cleanse the malodorous situation.

The problems are known both to the Archdiocese and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the latter having the last word on “the ecclesiastical affairs in America” and, of course, bearing the responsibility. I have the impression that many times the Archdiocesan leadership here wants to act in certain situations involving high ranking clerics, but there are factors from “above” preventing that.

For now, and based on my knowledge of the situation, Chicago is boiling, and in the case of an improper hierarchical election, one worse than the former one, it would explode.

A repetition of Archbishop Spyridon’s term of only three years is not out of the question.

Thus, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America, the local Eparchial Synod, which will select the three person ballot and indicate the “protégé” for the succession in the Chicago Metropolis, and certainly the Patriarchate, should be extremely careful. Actually, let’s not kid ourselves. By “Patriarchate”.

I mean Patriarch Bartholomew himself. He decides, the Synod simply rubber stamps.

Let us be attentive, because our times are extremely difficult. Parishioners know much more about the ecclesiastical leadership than the latter realize. Our Greek-American community cannot afford to go through new ecclesiastical crises and turmoil. We already are in a condition of advanced indifference to the extent of apathy within our churches, which are almost empty even on Holy Friday evening and the Resurrection night.

Financially, the “cash cow” – i.e., donations and contributions, is drying up. It is decreasing at a nightmarish pace.

In many instances the priests do not act or behave “as stewards of the mysteries of God” and as “good shepherds,” but as strictly religious executives with bankers hours, and then via e-mail or by appointment only. Of course, there are some notable exceptions that salvage the sacrificial conciseness of the holy priesthood.

Many parishes are deteriorating because of the priests and/or the permanent and incompetent members of parish councils who have been glued to their chairs so that the council membership remains unchanged.

As long as the metropolitans continue to receive their high salaries along with extra income from the sacraments and Sacred Services, and priests also enjoy high salaries and “tips” from weddings, baptisms and funerals, and also work on the side as businessmen and owners of real estate, any change seems like an intangible dream. If the “almighty dollar” ceases to fill the coffers and the pockets, then the big challenge will start, but it will be too late.

Chicago will be the indicative sign as to where the Church in America will move and in what direction. The responsibility belongs to all of us, but especially to those with who have “the beards and the combs.”


Letter to the Editor: Criticism of Kalmoukos’ Analysis

June 6, 2017

To the Editor:

I am offended by the article that appeared online on June 5, Analysis: An End and a Beginning in Chicago by Theodore Kalmoukos. The late Metropolitan Iakovos only just passed away and I find it very disrespectful and in poor taste to badmouth a deceased person. Many people held Metropolitan Iakovos in high regard for his years of service.

I don’t know where Mr. Kalmoukos gets his facts, some closed door meetings, perhaps, but when he makes broad statements about the church and the youth not attending, I see hundreds of young people signed up for camp this summer and thousands participating in youth events year round.

Of course, there are some issues that the church must deal with, but my Yiayia taught me not to speak ill of the dead.

I would like a response from Mr. Kalmoukos regarding his article.

Thank you.

Bill P. Evangelopoulos
Chicago, IL

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6 Comments

  1. Mr Evangelopoulos,

    It was very uplifting to read your response to a very upsetting commentary from the National Herald. The proper response to the passing of anyone should be to love and support of one another. God expects us to love one another regardless of the personal drama we create for ourselves. I’m not ashamed to admit that I enjoy reading the National Herald! But, but to see this level of disrespect for the dead crosses a line that shouldn’t be crossed.

    On a more positive note, it was very encouraging to see so many people at the funeral of His Eminence. The metropolis of Chicago is a great metropolis serving a wonderful part of our country.

    Fr. Jason

    • Stacy Sennott on

      Fr. Jason,

      I respect that you may have had a different experience than others in the Chicago Metropolis with regard to its leadership, but I hope you can respect that others have had a very different one. I have witnessed first hand, how both Metropolitan Iakovos of blessed memory and the Chancellor tried to cover up theft at the expense of punishing honest people to keep the truth hidden. And when they couldn’t stop law enforcement from revealing the truth, they swept it under the rug without acknowledgement, apology or repentance. Again, I understand others may not be aware of these things and other similar situations. But Mr. Kalmoukos is stating the truth about the state of this Metropolis and should not be shamed for doing so. Just because the Metropolitan has passed, doesn’t mean we hide or refrain from acknowledging the poor state of things, because if we pretend “everything is awesome”, there will be less likelihood of change for the better. Multiple clergy in this Metropolis have admitted to me personally how bad things are due to the leadership here. And these same clergy turn around and gush all honor and glory on social media about these same leaders to guard their livelihood. To me, Mr. Kalmoukos shows more integrity than these clergy, who preach that we must be willing to sacrifice for the truth yet won’t dare do it themselves. Fr Angelo Artemas is one of very few clergy who has the integrity and courage, and the Metropolis of Chicago sent him packing. I’m sorry the truth hurts, but it must be told to improve the poor conditions in this Metropolis that most of the clergy here know exist, but are unwilling to publicly admit.

      • Stacy,

        Thank you for clarifying this situation for Fr. Jason and others. Many have been wrongly hurt and humiliated by the decisions made by those who occupy and occupied the Burton Street mansion.

      • Stacy,

        Thank you for your comments. I rarely comment on anything on the internet. I actually thought that I was replying to TNH. Forgive me and please don’t take offense at anything that I mentioned. My intent was to be supportive of Mr. Evangelopoulos, and not to enter any kind of debate that would conjure up hard feelings, and personal attacks.

        His Eminence’s 40 days have not even passed. The Metropolis of Chicago, like all other jurisdictions is always in need of prayer. That’s why in our many services, we pray for all pious orthodox christians, our clergy, our metropolis’, etc.

        I may have made a mistake by joining in on a conversation on social media. However, is it too much to ask that if people we are going to call people eachother out by name, that we do so in prayer?

        Many people are clearly in pain. We don’t even think that people who disagree with us have any sense of understanding. How can we cannot confess our faith with one mind, if we cannot love one another? We have to resolve our issues in a loving way.

        • Fr. Jason,

          Thank you for your reply. I am not offended at your initial comment because I can’t assume you are aware of serious moral concerns in this Metropolis. At one point, I opened a police investigation after receiving harassing anonymous mail for being outspoken on the corruption. That should give you an idea of how scary things are in this Metropolis.

          Yes indeed, the Metropolis needs our prayers, and it would be a shame to assume that I and others are not praying for the Metropolitan’s soul and for reversal of the moral decay in this Metropolis.

          In addition to prayers, immediate action on behalf of all, is desperately needed to reverse this decline. I did not see any disrespectful personal attacks in this article authored by Mr. Kalmoukos. Only the truth of moral decay in this Metropolis over the past few decades, and an immediate call to action by the Archdiocese.

          Christ showed us that we should not be offended by healing on the Sabbath. When people are taking important steps to better the church in a respectful way, I don’t feel offense should be taken that they didn’t wait 40 days to express serious concerns that require immediate action. We are called to love one another, and love our enemies. But that doesn’t mean we should accept and be complacent with the poor state of things.

  2. Pelagia Gilchrist on

    Forgive me, but the situation in the Chicago Metropolis reminds me of the Icon of the Ladder of Divine Assent. It is not the laity falling through the rungs of the ladder into the arms of demons; it is the clergy, who failing in their own spiritual struggles, harm the flock of Christ. Our clergy need our fervent prayers. They face significant spiritual attacks, and like so many of us (me!), they are lulled to sleep by the easy, tempting distractions of this God-hating world.
    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us.
    Unworthy Handmaiden of the Lord Pelagia

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