THE TIME FOR ORTHODOX UNITY IS NOW!

A crucial decision for Hellenism in the US

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Source: Ekathimerini.com

by ALEXIS PAPACHELAS

The next couple of days will be crucial for the future of Hellenism in the United States. A decision will be taken in Istanbul on whether Archbishop Demetrios of America will step down from his post and, if so, who will replace him. Officials in Athens would in the past treat this as a routine decision. But this is no longer the case.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is facing an unprecedented crisis that calls for immediate and radical solutions. Financial mismanagement in the construction of the Saint Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center has shaken the confidence of leading members of the Greek-American community in the Church leadership. No one really understands how and why such large amounts of money went missing.

At the same time – and this is more important – the organic relationship of Greek Americans with the Church and Hellenism is quickly fading away. This can, to a considerable extent, be attributed to mixed marriages and the passage of time. The Church has grown old as an institution. Archbishop Iakovos was the last dynamic and charismatic leader. He might have indulged in his own power games, but he had the ability to energize the community like no one else could. He had very good access and could inspire among leading Greek Americans the desire and the vision to achieve things as a community. The Phanar never really wanted to replace Iakovos with as dynamic a personality – perhaps out of insecurity or because the reservoir of talent, as it were, had run low. But there can be no Phanar without the United States, in every sense.

The patriarch’s decision on the issue is long overdue. Frustration among the diaspora is growing and calls for an autocephalous church are intensifying. If no decision is made at the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, or if a half-baked solution is reached, the consequences could be disastrous. The patriarch is aware of the historic significance and he has the judgment and the courage to take decisions which will bring a very regrettable issue to an end. Sure, it is important who he will pick as a successor to Demetrios, if he eventually decides to remove him. Historical circumstance mandates the selection of a religious leader with leadership qualities, good communication skills and who is compatible with the needs of the community. The Greek diaspora in the US cannot endure another mistake, or to be faced with an option dictated by neo-Byzantine balancing acts and conflicts of egos.

Originally posted on October 10, 2018

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5 Comments

  1. According to Church rules, an Archbishop serves his flock until he dies. If he himself decides to retire, we respect his decision. We do not respect forcing his retirement or orchestrating it in some other way. Since the forced retirement of Archbishop Iakovos, we see the results of usurping the process. When the time comes for a new Archbishop, there is a process outlined in the “gift Charter” imposed upon the US Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. We must remind the Phanar that the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States is not a colony of its synod. The synod here will recommend the names of the three qualified candidates who serve and know the workings of the Church and spiritual needs of the faithful in the USA. This is paramount, because we do not need a hierarch imposed from abroad who has to undergo a learning curve about our Church here in the USA. The entire bureaucracy of the Archdiocese needs to be restructured. A spiritual-minded Archbishop will know that Church leadership is not defined by how much money you pledge. There are other qualities that define leadership. The interrelationship of special interest groups providing funds needs to be reevaluated. The role of the laity in the management of the finances of the Archdiocese and the Educational Institutions needs to be reevaluated. Those of us living here and serving the Church here are qualified to undertake this reevaluation.

  2. John Sakelaris on

    This article from a Greek media outlet was originally posted on October 10 and it stated then that in “the next couple of days” a decision would be made in Constantinople concerning “whether Archbishop Demetrios of America will step down from his post and, if so, who will replace him.”

    Now a whole 39 days have passed. Does this mean that Constantinople has decided against making any changes to the leadership in America? Perhaps they are focused now, for better or worse, on the situation in Ukraine.

  3. “Decision for Hellenism in the US” says it all. What about “for the Orthodox Church”? And we wonder why it is difficult to attain Church Unity in the US. Unless it is Greek, nothing else matters.

  4. A bishop, in any Orthodox jurisdiction, should represent Christ not some ethnic group. They are not meant to be ethnarchs but rather hierarchs. At some point, and maybe it already has, the GOA needs to decide if it is the Body of Christ, a Church, or a Greek club. There is only salvation in Christ.

  5. Timothy Nicholas on

    The role of the laity was never taken into consideration by Fanar in all its decisions; why expect them to do so now! Unfortunately, not even the so-called Eparchial Synod has any impact on crucial matters like the election of the new Archbishop, let alone the desires and opinions of the numerous clergy of the Archdiocese, both active and retired, whose lives are affected by our church leadership. We have reached a real impasse here and only God knows the outcome!

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