Source: Greek Orthodox Christians for Truth and Reform
A LETTER TO ONE OF OUR EDITORS FROM A GREEK ORTHODOX PRIEST
I miss Archbishop Iakovos dearly. As a Priest of 30 years, I feel compelled to write this, albeit with some degree of anonymity to protect myself (even though I have fully disclosed who I am to you). This is my confession that I feel most sorrowful for. The poor leadership that our GOA is plagued with is a multi-faceted problem that has its roots from the Seminary. The Church is suffering. If you don’t realize we are, you are living in a cave. Everything Fr. Artemas has said is correct. No one in their right mind would doubt this. Bishop Demetri’s “behavior” is well known for many years by many people. The same can be said for Metropolitan Iakovos. Some say that Bishop Anthimos, “the black prince”, is starting to look like a hero compared to these despots (how sad). Yet all this is tolerated. Additionally, the Ephraimite Fundamentalist problem is transforming our churches across the country to be centers for monasticism – usurping the regular routine of parish life and dismissing it as inferior to monastic life. Fr. Calivas correctly stated that holiness can be found in the Parish, as well as the Monastery. Fr. Harakas confirms this too. Yet some Hierarchs dismiss these proven beacons of truth. The subtle pressures of looking and behaving like monks is being introduced more and more. With all due respect, we don’t have to look like monks or “Amish” to be holy.
With the Fr. Dokos allegations we see that priests are unjustly taking money and giving it to Hierarchs. The Patriarch is deaf. The Archbishop is a good man, but does not like making decisions, and consequently our Metropolitans are diminishing him while they scurry to amass more power. Donors that are very wealthy are giving substantial donations to other non-profits that have clear and honest transparency. By and large, they have stopped giving to our Church. Our Hierarchy is looked at by professional and educated people as a bunch of buffoons.Scores of our faithful are going to the Antiochians and even other Christian denominations. Yet no one is admitting our GOA is in a crisis. Denying any problem only means it is going to get worse. If a captain denies the hull is breached, the ship is going to sink. We are sinking. The numbers are self-evident. Look and see
A young Seminarian once asked at a convocation of Students and Faculty at the Seminary, if they could get training similar to large corporations to enhance their management skills and effectiveness. He mentioned that there are millions of dollars spent by corporations to train their leaders to be more effective. Whatever money they spent will come back to them in productivity. I was there for the response, otherwise I would not have believed it. The bright eyed and ever hopeful student was told that “this is something you need to learn on your own”. The smile on that student’s face left. There was a long pause. He slowly walked back to his seat. This is the beginning of handicapping and stifling leadership. And now there is talk of one of our Metropolitan’s taking over the Seminary. Do we really want that from a Metropolitan that seems quite endeared to the Ephraimites for many reasons? It is no wonder then that our Church is in this situation.
At the Seminary today, there are more and more women wearing head-coverings and dressing homely, more so than in the many decades prior when I was there as a student. There is a profound spirit of fundamentalism that has a foothold in the Seminary. Of course what happens in the Seminary will find its way to the Parishes and each Metropolis across our country. The only measure of progress we seem to be insisting on is that we kiss the bishop’s hand, look monastic, chant in Greek nicely, and that’s it. In a word: shallow. It is no wonder then that our Church is in this situation.
I see my brother priests hesitant to call a spade a spade. I see my brother priests, who are called to be leaders, afraid to make statements. Many of them say that it is for God to judge, and consequently are afraid to judge an action as right or wrong. What is to become of our Church when the Priests are afraid to speak truth? What is to become of our Church when her Priests are taught to be mere hierarchical sycophants and yes-men that are void of any direction, training, encouragement, and culture that empower them to say “enough”? A stifling theocracy is an impediment to the development of character. We went from a partnership to a despotic theocracy. The feelings and perspectives of the Laity and the Priest don’t really matter anymore. Our Hierarchs are more interested in building their agenda and themselves, than in addressing matters of Truth. The response from the Hierarchs regarding those who leave is “They will come back, don’t worry about it.”
Priests are afraid to speak up today, especially those in good parishes with good pay. They don’t want to rock the boat. Most priests become emotionally disengaged with matters they perceive as going beyond the borders of their parish. I confess, I am guilty of this. It seems that the Priests of today are not the same as the Priests of yesterday. Iakovos seemed autocratic, but at least there was a rule of law. Now it seems that litmus test for a Hierarch’s action is “what can I get out of this?”
Under the mask of “humility and obedience” our brother Priests are being trained to act like Eunuchs. The worst sort of this would be the brothers that fall into the Ephraimite category. Many of them succumb into being emasculated from exercising their conviction. They adopt “blind obedience” as a mantra held above logic and reason. These people have divided the Church. They, and the Hierarchs behind them, are concerned about building their own agenda which is ego and control.
Parish after parish is being infected by a cancer within our Church that is telling the young minds that want to go to Seminary to not trust the professors at Seminary and that all of our Hierarchy is corrupt. Cutting off your leg is not a good way to lose weight. It is no wonder then that our Church is in this situation.
One Priest in a large parish said that the Holy Spirit will take care the of problems the parish has, and he will just pray for it. That’s nice to pray about problems. But it is also better to couple that prayer with action. Action requires conviction and faith. Action is risky. Sometimes inaction is because there is nothing that can be done. But sometimes inaction reveals the faint-hearted character and conviction of the men entrusted to speak truth. It is no wonder then that our Church is in this situation.
At some point, our inaction and simply insisting “God will save us” is testing God. There is a good story that illustrates this. A man was in his house by a large river. A big storm came and the levee broke. It started to flood. The man prayed “God save me!” Just then a truck came by his house and the driver said they will take him to safety. The man refused and said “God will save me”. The truck left. The flood waters increased. A boat came by. They offered to take the man to safety. The man said “No. God will save me.” The boat left. The flood waters increased. The man had to get on the roof for safety. A helicopter then came by. They offered to take the man to safety. The man said “No. God will save me.” The helicopter left. The flood waters increased. The man drowned and went to Heaven. The man then asked God, “Lord, why is it I prayed to you and you didn’t save me?” The Lord replied “What do you mean? I sent you a truck, a boat and a helicopter. You refused them all.”
You see, my friends, our Church has the answer to all of its problems implicit in the majority of our Priests and Laymen. But we are being silenced to not act on our conviction with the accusation that it is pride. We are being taught to test God. Prayer is good. We should pray for our Church. But sometimes we need to act as people of faith, and put that faith into action.
The means to fixing our situation are within our grasp. One voice at a time we can orchestrate a deafening Chorus that shouts “Enough!” If we don’t use the gifts God has given us (especially the gifts of courage, conviction, and the faith to speak Truth), then we are complicit and guilty of testing God. When we test God like this, we make a mockery of God’s power. It is no wonder then that our Church is in this situation.
Our Church at large in the United States is the product of the actions and direction of our Hierarchs here and abroad. We have our struggles and sometimes I feel it is like fighting a losing battle. All too often, Priests and Laity do not like when the Hierarch comes to visit. It is no wonder why so many Priests simply become functionaries that look forward to retiring. I did. But I can’t anymore. Someone wrote once that our Hierarchs have no real record of achievement. I am starting to see that. Better late than never. It is no wonder then that our Church is in this situation. I was part of the problem. I confess. I am admitting I was part of the problem, maybe others should too. I am starting to do something. We need to do something. I can’t do it alone. We are not alone. There is so much at stake here. Will you join me and others in speaking up?
In the spirit of genuine love, I remain yours
You can certainly feel the frustration here. As another long term clergyman told us “if the Dokos matter is swept under the rug you are going to see a mass migration out of our Churches. The laity has had it with all of this nonsense.” Are any of our Hierarchs paying attention to the voices of the people?[subscribe2]
When the priority seems to be preservation of “Greek culture” and when “intermarriage” between Greeks and non-Greeks is seen, in and of itself, as a “problem”, regardless of whether or not the non-Greek is Orthodox, perhaps the Archdiocese is rejecting the protection of the Holy Spirit and seeking the “Genius of the Greek people” as a substitute. That may explain things.
It is refreshing to (finally) hear from a Priest who dares to speak the “Truth in Love”. The Fr. Dokos/Bishop Kantzavelos Scandal may bring the Archdiocese to the tipping point, where it will either institute needed reforms or descend into an irreversible death spiral. The increasing “clericalism” introduced over time into the GOA’s governing documents has removed any effective lay involvement in bringing needed reforms onto the agenda of Clergy-Laity Congresses. Coupled with the Patriarchal Charter; restructuring of the Archdiocese; demotion of the role of the Archbishop; and elevation of Metropolitans into “despots” from whom there is no appeal — we now have the worst of both worlds. Along with the laity, the lower clergy have also been rendered voiceless, intimidated by bishops who demand blind obedience, coerce silence or threaten to sanction a priest who refuses to participate in a cover-up of alleged criminal activity. Even the author of this thoughtful letter needs anonymity to protect himself from retaliation. I used to find comfort in viewing the actions of some Hierarchs as “administrative incompetence”. Not anymore. The Dokos/Kantzavelos Scandal brings to mind a snippet from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure: “Thieves for their robbery have authority/ when judges steal themselves..” As for the unfettered administrative power invested in Hierarchs in the GOA, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure offers us the following: “Oh, it is excellent/To have a giant’s strength; but it is tyrannous/To use it like a giant.”
the laity must have more say in church matters.this garbage of a bishop/met/etc.,removing a church council member at will is in my opinion the worst kind of authority a church can have on its members.
Very well writen. We need strong institutional leadership and fundamental restructuring, otherwise we will diminish. There are corporate leaders that can help as well as religious leaders who consult other religions. Unfortunately, στου κουφού την πόρτα όσο θέλεις βρωντα
It is no small just pass over it, ignore it or let is slide spiritual maturity matter when a Christian in a church willfully chooses not to speak his last name to somehow self protect himself.
You get the church you Christ pay the price, Christ make the sacrifice for and Christ take the risk for. It takes a willing to pay the Christ price, make the Christ sacrifice and take the Christ to sign your last name.
Our identity is to be Jesus Christ alone and first. We are not to ashamed of Christ or our identity In Christ. An idol god as our identity will create a hypocrisy of fear in our lives if we allow it to define who we are in Jesus Christ. This priest compromising the saying of his last name is the perfect example of the compromised unethical and immoral state of Orthodoxy in America that is failed, corrupt, irrelevant, cultic, abusive and demographically imploding. It is in the last stage of church death here. The priest’s last name died for the same reasons his church died. Get it?
One of the symptoms of a church in the last stage of its death is how everyone blames, condemns and accuses others for its dying state and when everyone in that church by that point in time are responsible to have allowed it to be compromised into a state of church death. Like a circular firing squad they blame shoot each other insuring the church death.
Orthodoxy came here held up by idolatrous props that do not hold it up in freedom of religion America. The Orthodox church collapse to the floor with its idolatry props knocked out from under it took place due to idolatry being the Orthodox foundation in identity and not Christ alone. Idolatry is self centered and self protective. That is exactly what this priest is being by not stating his full name. Idolatry is a compromise of Christ and so this man compromises with the idol he fears and serves and will not speak his last name.
Fear of our identity in Christ hides our name. Trust in Christ states its full name. Something other than Christ alone defines this man and that is an idol defining him. He fears his idol god that intimidates him into not speaking his last name and it exposes the god he has served his entire ministry life.
Fear and hiding dominant the person who is shame based. A church that is shamed based uses fear, intimidation, coercion and threat to silence you into not speaking your last name. This man values something more than Christ and that is why he will not speak his last name. He is in pure fear of losing something if speaks his full name. That is not a other centered selfless living sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is spiritual cowardice in the face of evil that controls by shame.
This priest does not have freedom in Christ by a Christ centered identity. His spiritual cowardice that causes his hypocrisy is obvious. He admits and points things out but he refuse to admit and point out his last name. He wants to be safe, protected and secure over taking the risk, paying the price and making the sacrifice of stating his last name that really is a courageous stand for Jesus Christ and his identity in Jesus Christ.
By compromising the stating of his last name he is really in effect compromising Christ. The Sanhedrin and Pharisees knew the full name of JESUS CHRIST. Christ was not ashamed of His name. This priest will not speak his name. Who does this priest serve? Is it the Sanhedrin like church ruled over by Pharisee like rulers or is it the name of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ Himself? Does Christ control this man or does an idol god? It is obvious.
If this man is a role model to other priests or Orthodox on how make a bold, courageous and uncompromising stand for Christ your church is over in America. If you have not noticed Orthodox your church is in fact over in America. A church can continue to exist and be over. It is over by a compromise of idolatry.
Priest, I have one question of you. Would Apostle Paul have not stated his last name? If not, why not? If you know why not then why do you not speak your last name?
The best solution any person like this priest can provide is a half solution and half solutions do not work. Why do I say half solution? He only stated the safe part of his name and left out the risk of his last name. There is no safe solution to the demographic foundational implosion of Orthodoxy in America. The only solution is the living sacrifice of Christ risk solution. The only solution is Galatians 2:20.
Those who admire the bravery of this priest are in reality admiring his self centered self protection cowardice and all of the idolatrous reasons why he will not state his last name. If you are that easily spiritually duped by such a man it is no wonder why your church is in the imploding state it is in.
Orthodox, you need to face a rational Christian reality that all of the evidence supports. Your church is over in America. You have nothing but idolatrous props to hold it up with and they no longer work. The idolatry of this priest that keeps him from stating his full name is the same idolatry that has led to the foundational collapse of your church in America. Now you listen to this spiritual coward as if he a solution come to you and when his solution is failed at the gate by the mere fact he FAILED to state his last name.
Freedom of religion has exposed your church for what it really is and why it is propped knocked out fallen to the floor and cannot stand back up without them. This is exposing what is really propping it up in places like Russia and Greece.
Orthodox, have you noticed the FAILED state of your church in America. You need look much further than this no name cowardice priest to see why and how it is FAILED in America and why it is not going stand up on two Jesus feet alone without any idolatrous props to hold it up. All your solutions to try to save your church will be FAILED solutions by idolatrous props that is its FAILURE being used to save it.
If you cannot identify what every idolatrous prop that has been knocked out from under your church in America is then you will try to use them to prop it up again to only see fall to the floor again powerless to stand up. Interesting, I am not an Orthodox and I know more why your church is in a state of failed foundational collapse and not a one of you know why like I do. Orthodox, idolatry is blinding to the idolatry that it is. It is called being deceived by the evil one. He deceives you by the same deception that caused his fall from heaven, idolatry of himself. Now he has deceived your church by idolatry of itself and it has fallen to the floor and can’t get back up. Not only did the idolatry knock it right to the floor that idolatry stands right on top its fell to the floor state keeping it from ever standing up.
It may seem to the Orthodox that this is a insignificant matter with the priest not stating his last name. A little compromise leaven compromise leavens the whole lump of your church.
You state that your church is Gods only true church making all of you Gods only true Christians. If true then why did the did the Gods only true Christian, this priest, not tell the Gods only true truth of what his full name is? If true why is your church fallen to the floor and cannot stand up by its exclusive claim? If true why is your church in a compromised, failed, irrelevant, cultic, abusive and foundation imploded dying state in America? Isn’t really just our one true idolatry of church, its rulers and all of in it that is the idolatry that has knocked it right to the floor and real reason why it cannot stand back up?
The interesting thing about idolatry is how when you practice it how the object of the idolatry steals your power to prop itself up with and to sustain your idolatry of it to keep it propped up. When you hand your power over to the idol the idol renders you powerless to stop what it is doing to you by the very power you hand over to it. In other words, Orthodox, your church is not going to find a solution that is Christ alone with no idolatrous attachments (props) that can hold it up.
Idolatry is really only relevant to those who hold a person, place or thing up as their idol. In reality in America the Orthodox are only relevant to themselves and their foundation demographic implosion and the reason why it is imploded all tell why your church is only relevant to itself and so it dies by irrelevancy to others outside of it due to your exclusive idolatrous viewpoint of yourselves being Gods only true Christians.
Idolatry is authoritarian and closed. Idolatry wants complete power and control. Yours is a authoritarian structure of power and control and a system church with an exclusive viewpoint of itself that is, superior, proud, self righteous and therefore isolating, segregating and closing. Idolatry is the state of your church knocked right to the floor by idolatry and that cannot stand up by idolatry. In your idolatrous closed, isolated and segregated church system that is powerless keep claiming that you are Gods only true church and the more you die by your self idolatry the more it will prove the lie in your exclusive claim and what that exclusive idolatry of yourselves has really done to your church.
It is said that insanity is using the same failed solution over and over again believing this time it will provide the solution.
When a church is idolatry based its only solution is idolatry.
Idolatry can go insane. The self idolator Satan is insane. Your church is self idolatry gone insane. There will be no sane Christian rational solution coming to your church in America. Only idolatry insane solutions.
Who is the insane self idolator god that Jesus points out in John 8:42-44 and were those Christ was confronting idolators of him and his insanity? What state did Jesus find them? What state is your church in? Christ is the comparison and He is because He is not corrupt. Corruption is not the holy of God comparison. All of you believe your exclusive church is the God standard of comparison that determines the Christianity of churches and Christians outside of you. Those Christ confronted in John 8:42-44 had that same type of exclusive viewpoint of themselves. Not even Jesus Christ God standing right in front of them could convince them of their fallen state, self idolatry and self idolatry Satan’s rule over their idolatry of themselves OVER worship of the true living Christ.
The dead church idolizes the dead self idolatrous Satan and the true church worships living Christ.
All church growth and relevancy development principles are found in the Gospels and NT and so is what can kill a church dead. Idolatry is the number one strategy of Satan to kill a church dead. He simply turns it into self idolatry of itself and in reality he is turning it into idolatry of Satan who rules that self idolatrous cult church by John 8:42-44 unseen to those blinded by idolatry.
Although theoretically the above writer is correct (theologically, too), realistically he is off the mark; it seems he is writing from a secure place/position, with no regard/experience for real, every day living in modern America. I would call his talk an empty theological verbalism/diatribe.
And this^^^ is precisely the problem he was talking about. So much for our clergy standing together and speaking out. How disappointing. Lord, have mercy.