Reader Responds to Editorials Regarding Flags

Source: The National Herald

To the Editor:

I write to reply to your irresponsible and unnecessarily vitriolic editorial in your May 25 edition entitled “Not Even the Greek Flag?” in support of your belief that a Greek Orthodox Church in the United States must regularly fly the Greek Flag along with the American and Patriarchal flags. You make a number of misleading, derogatory, and pejorative allegations. I will refer to only three.

1) As Fr. George Stephanopoulos states in his article concerning the name of the Greek Orthodox Church, the word “Greek” is not used to describe just the Orthodox Christian peoples of Greece and other Greek speaking people. Rather, it is used to describe the Christians who originated from the Greek speaking early Christian Church. Furthermore, in your June 22 editorial , you acknowledged that the word “Greek” in “Greek Orthodox” does not refer to Greek ethnicity. Nevertheless, with obvious intent to mislead, you sarcastically stated on May 25: “Our church continues, if we are not mistaken, to be called the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.”

2) It is most irresponsible for you to declare, with obvious inflammatory intent, that those who do not support the regular flying of the Greek flag by Greek Orthodox Churches in the United States “do not respect ourselves” and “do not appreciate the treasure of Hellenism and Orthodoxy that we have in our hands,” and that by not flying the Greek flag we “cut ourselves off from our roots…renounce our ancestors, the pioneer immigrants who built theses churches” and are “actually renouncing ourselves.” What ridiculous and insupportable assertions!

3) By far the worst passage of your irrational editorial is your calumnious characterization of any Greek Orthodox Church which does not regularly fly the Greek flag as: “just one of those churches springing up here and there every day from various charlatans who exploit innocent people?” How in the world can you make such an outlandish charge? Christ’s Holy and Apostolic Church cannot be identified with any particular culture or ethnic group (Greek or otherwise) unless it is reduced from being the Body of Christ to a mere human institution. The Greek Orthodox Church has always been a people’s church, an indigenous church, with deep roots in the cultural and ethnic identity of the lands in which it is found. However, the Church’s mission and responsibility is to bring Christ’s message to all men. It cannot be limited to or identified with any one ethnic or cultural group. In Christ there is neither Greek nor Jew. The Orthodox Church exists beyond nations and ethnicities.

That this is why the Orthodox Churches cannot be considered as bastions of any particular culture or ethnicity. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, is a Greek Orthodox Church in the United States. It is an eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It is not an eparchy of the Greek Orthodox Church of Greece. Its communicants are Greek Orthodox Americans (many in the fifth generation) and not Greeks who happen to live in America temporarily while they wait to return to Greece. Accordingly, there is no valid reason for Greek Orthodox Churches in America to fly the Greek Flag on a regular basis. with the flags of the Patriarchate and the United States. On special occasions such as the observance of Greek Independence Day on March 25 and OXI Day on October 28 when we remember and commemorate the memory and sacrifices of our brave Greek forefathers, brothers and sisters, in their struggle for Orthodoxy, freedom and liberty, the flying of the Greek Flag is not only appropriate, it is an honor.

Evan Alevizatos Chriss
Baltimore, MD

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