An Essay with Concerns, Suggestions, and Proposals submitted to the Holy and Great Pan-Orthodox Synod of Chaniá, Crete—19-25-June-2016

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Achilles G. Adamantiades

Achilles G. Adamantiades

Source: Orthodox Christian Laity


From the Editor – excerpt from complete, excellent essay which follows:  

The Role of the Laity and women.  The final point I wish to touch upon is the issue of the Role of the Laity in the Church. I am fully aware of the distinction between the clergy and the laity (έχοντες ούν υμείς χαρίσματα κατά την χάριν την δοθείσαν υμίν διάφορα) but  Ι have not seen the role of the laity given approriate weight in the Orthodox Church (in fact, I have seen more involvement of lay persons in the liturgical life of the Catholic Church than in the Orthodox). I am fully aware of the desire and mind of Archbishop Demetrios, who gave me a significant role in the Science and Technology Committee and also of the Ecumenical Patriarch who has involved laypersons in various committees and ecclesiastical bodies in the life of the Church, including an invition for them to make contributions to the preparation and proceedings of the Holy and Great Synod of Chaniá — this text, which I am submitting with due reverence and humility, is in response to this invitation. However, I still believe that the role of the laity (men and women) has not been given the appropriate weight it deserves in order for them to make a significant contribution in the life of Church, other than in financial, political, and adminstrative matters.


By Achilles G. Adamantiades
Senior Advisor to the Archdiocesan Advisory Committee on Science and Technology (AACST) of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOΑRCH)

31-May-2016 

I am not a theologian and do not intend to enter into theology matters although, as a student, I attended theology courses at the Univ. of Athens (in the 1950s) and have read many biblical and theological books, including a few in recent months, especially in matters of Church history, canon law, and procedures.  I will offer comments from common sense, from my position in the AACST, and from my ecclesiastical experience as well as from my social and scientific perspective. I do not make any claims of authority or even correctness in matters touched upon in this essay and I am open to comments, criticism, disagreements, and corrections.

First, I will touch upon the matter of the calendar (n. 5 in the original list of discussion items) on which the Orthodox Churches seems to still be in disagreement and disarray, although the Pan-Orthodox Congress of 1923 was unanimous in deciding on the need to convert the calendar from the Julian style to the Gregorian. Unfortunately, many Orthodox Churches, up to now, did not adhere to this unanimous (ομόφωνος) Synod decision. I read the recently published (2006) book by the Rev. Patrick Viscuso and saw the summary of that Congress, as it was placed in the context of the aftermath of World War II, the end of the Greco-Turkish War of 1919-1923, the Bolshevik revolution and the rising of new states in Eastern Europe, after the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian empire.  Eventually, the conversion of the civilian calendar to Gregorian gained wide legitimacy, while the church calendar was left up to religious bodies and many did get stuck and still are, incredibly, with the Julian while many churches adopted the Gregorian calendar. Although my direct knowledge of the Old-calendarists has been limited to a little church on Don Daleziou Str., a couple of blocks from my family home, in Volos, Greece, and the fact that the Russian Church (the largest in numbers of members in the world at this time) still keeps the Julian on its ecclesiastical calendar, I do not think anyone bothers, today, with this issue except for e few strongly opinionated (almost fanatical) members who think that the most important matter of faith is to adhere to what they call “tradition.” These persons do not understand there is a large difference between “tradition” and “traditions.”  The matter of the calendar needs to be settled once and for all for the sake of the unity and ecumenical character of the Orthodox Church and to allow all Christians in the world to celebrate the Nativity and the Resurrection of the Lord, on the same day.  The matter of the calendar is a matter of astronomy to settle (and it has settled it) and not for church leaders or churchgoers. The calendar is not an essential aspect of faith and church life and cannot be allowed to continue to divide churches, church leaders and the faithful; it is imperative for it to be settled, firmly and definitively, for no serious person considers it relevant to faith or to civilization. The canonical Orthodox Churches need to bite the bullet and decide by majority vote, as was done in many Synods past, the issue of the calendar and to call all faithful and all parishes and Churches to obedience.  Such obedience is in the tradition of the Church and, especially, in monastic life; the minority obeys the decision of the majority.  Even in secular matters, most civilized societies agree that all members must obey the law (or rules), whether they like it or not, as the wise Socrates taught. Otherwise, there cannot exist a viable society at all.

Unanimity vs. Consensus.  This brings us to the procedural issue of unanimity versus majority vote, which was discussed at length at the Synaxis convened (29-August to 2-Sept 2015) in Constantinople. From my reading of the records (or other historical documents and reports) of past Ecumenical Synods, majority vote was the accepted procedure and unanimity was never either the case or possible, often leading to disturbances, or even violent clashes, among Synod members, causing the cessation or postponement of the Synod. Unanimity is not, more often than not, possible, necessary, or even advisable, because it suggests coercion.   Insistence on it has brought the Orthodox Church to total paralysis and an inability to perform her duties in the Church effectively and in synchronization with the needs of the members. The last officially Ecumenical Synod was convened in 787 in Nicaea of Asia minor! Insistence on the so-called unanimity has prevented the Orthodox Church from dealing with her problems and is the main reason, among others, that she is far behind in gathering synodically than the Western Church.  (I am aware that several additional Synods were convened since the 7th although without the same weight, or ecumenicity as the first seven, to deal with, mostly, local problems.) A reasonable agreement on the interpretation of consensus is imperative today, with flexibility and respect for different views and a readiness to accommodate them, on matters, of course, that do not affect the unchangeable and essential character of the faith and its morality, taking also into account the many political and societal bodies (parliaments, senates, unions, etc.) that have dealt effectively with it over the centuries, to this day. Isn’t the institutional Church as least as capable to deal with her problems as the often derisively-referred-to as “secular” bodies? Until this agreement is unequivocally reached and adopted widely, the Orthodox Church will continue its (numerical) decline and radiance on the world scene and affect negatively the reach of her evangelical message.

Canonical anomaly.  I now turn attention to the resolution of the co-called “canonical anomaly” to which the Synaxis of Constantinople of 28-Aug-2-Sep 2015 and the Assemblies of Canonical Bishops established by the Ecumenical Patriarch in 2009, have focused recently.  From the minutes and report from this Synaxis, I gather that several Heads of Autocephalous Orthodox churches still remain attached to an ill-perceived “ethnicity” which should better be characterized as ethnophyletism which was firmly “decried, denounced, and condemned” in the Pan-Orthodox Council of Constantinople in 1872. The lack of an effective and consensual (not necessarily unanimous) resolution of this anomaly is, today, a scandal, equally deplorable as it is clearly caused by ethnicism (wrongly mistaken as patriotism), self interest (financial transfers from churches outside and far away from the Autocephalous Churches) and a clearly non-Christian behavior, namely, competition for supremacy, power, and rank.  Claiming the right to exercise control over bishoprics and churches far away from their own basis is contrary to common sense, tradition, fairness, and the values of the prayer of St. Seraphim (ναί, Κύριε, πνεύμα αργίας, φιλαρχίας, φιλαργυρίας και φιλαυτίας μη μοι δώς, πνεύμα δε σωφροσύνης, ταπεινοφροσύνης, υπομονής και αγάπης, χάρισαί μοι τω σω δούλω.) Such hierarchs are not only in violation of the rule of 1872 οn ethnophyletism but do not even compare favorably with secular leaders in what we call, disapprovingly, “ο κόσμος.”  Does it occur to them to ask themselves whether they are indeed “εις τόπον και τύπον Χριστού»? The current condition of the Orthodox Church, is badly fragmenting the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church into ethnic segments, devastates all efforts for effective evangelism (close to zero in percentage of total Christian evangelical effort), and makes persons wonder who is a real Christian.  This comment reminds me of the words of an outstanding French Orthodox theologian, Olivier Clément, who was wondering whether he should become a Greek, Russian, Arab, or Bulgarian, or Serbian Orthodox Christian!  Proponents of this ethnophyletism often bring the argument that many, if not all, of the European immigrants, in the earlier centuries but also today, need support to maintain their national identity and culture – a legitimate need and goal. They confuse love of country φιλοπατρία) with ethnicism.  However, without ignoring or condoning the egregious errors, deviations, and violations of fundamental Christian ethics and principles by the Catholic Church (Crusades, official sanctioning of torture, attacks on, and destruction of, Constantinople, infallibility of the pope, and many others), we see, today, Catholicism expanding and attracting great respect and, even, adulation as during the Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S., last September, with his ideas, gentleness and overall Christian behavior. We do not hear or see any Italian Catholic, Portuguese Catholic, Philippine Catholic or any other ethnic Catholic Church, without any complaints for the loss of their respective ethnic identities, which continue to receive support, naturally, from civil or secular societies or organizations.

I am an enthusiastic admirer, student, (and product) of Hellenism and serve as co-organizer (in recent years) of a local group in the Washington area called KYKLOS, to afford the opportunity to members to use the Greek language, exclusively, in order to maintain and improve it. Many of us believe that the Greek language should be viewed and esteemed as the No. 1 language of the entire Christian Church, as all the biblical texts, including the New and Old Testament (the latter as translated by the 70 wise men, between 300 and 200 B.C.) and most patristic writings, were written in the Greek language by authors who were Jewish. Although we also strongly accept and respect the ancient position of the Orthodox Church that the language of the liturgical and social life should be the language of the people, as a means to pass the message of Christ, I would like to quote one of the great Orthodox theologian of the 20th century, Fr. George Florovsky, (with whom I had the pleasure to become acquainted in Boston, in the early 1960s) who said “we need to be more Greek in order to be better Christians,” referring, of course, to the higher understanding one can obtain from reading the scriptures in the original. In conclusion, it should again be stated with a strong voice in the Synod that ethnophyletism is a spiritual disease “decried, denounced, and condemned” by the Synodical decision of 1872, which remains, however, without adherence by many Orthodox churches.

Autocephaly.  It appears to many of us, laymen-non-theologians and theologians alike, that the root cause of this anomaly lies in the very creation of the Autocephalous Orthodox Churches, leading to the deviation of Autocephalism. What meaning does this terminology have when all Orthodox Christians recognize only one head (κεφαλήν), that is Christ, whose body is the Church (η εκκλησία).  The radical solution of this intractable problem should be the abolition of all Autocephalous churches and their replacement by regional Orthodox Assemblies whose borders could be based on national (but not necessarily) borders or limits.  Depending solely on national borders would be, in itself, a capitulation to the very ways of the «world» and would amount to captivity to outcomes of wars, treaties, and worldly interests instead of responding, solely, to the real needs of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.  That would be, perhaps, a radical revolution but it would send a powerful message to the world that the Orthodox Church “means business,” (to put it in secular language).  Specific arrangements should, of course, be adaptable to changing national borders, political interests and pressures, and be decided by consultations of local bodies and, perhaps, by an Ecumenical Synod, taking in mind, always, local conditions, needs, and preferences. Are the participants in the upcoming Synod of Chaniá prepared to make a radical reform that would solve this “anomaly” once and for all and return the Orthodox Church to its truly traditional Synodic character? Or are they going to continue their petty disputes, endless discussions, narrow-minded differences, selfish conflicts and fractured jurisdictions, much to the detriment of the Church? Will they be in a position to say to the world that they did their very best duty, having only in mind the unity and future of the Church? This is, indeed, a hot issue, but needs to be addressed seriously and candidly; if not, this would amount to dereliction of duty.

As to the role of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, he is, first and foremost, an important institutional figure in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, deriving his position of “First among Equals” in his area of jurisdiction, from the canons of the fourth Ecumenical Synod of Chalcedon, establishing the Pentarchy (while his title “Ecumenical” was given some time later, in the 6th century).  If we need to maintain something from our traditions, it is incumbent upon us to continue to fully respect and acknowledge the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, especially as he struggles, for centuries, in a hostile environment, after the onslaught of the Ottoman Empire and the Fall of Constantinople, the decimation of Orthodox Churches in Asia Minor, and the untold sufferings of millions of Christians, up to this day, at the hands of the Ottomans or today’s jihadists.  We do not expect or advocate that the Ecumenical Patriarch should be, or act, like the Pope of Rome, to which (role) all Orthodox are firmly opposed.  In order to assuage concerns of some Autocephalous Church leaders, who expressed consternation about the Orthodox Churches being overwhelmed by the authority and privileges of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, I would propose a good U.S. paradigm (with which I am well familiar), the case of the Chairman of a U.S. Senate Committee, who presides over the workings of the U.S. Senate, enjoying undisputed respect and conformity to his/her rulings by the members (regardless of party), often granting as little as 3 minutes of speech, each time they ask for the floor, but not making the decisions himself. Other prerogatives that the Senate Chair is granted are the right to set the agenda, convene and conclude meetings, give (or take away) the floor and, in general, keep decorum and order; similar arrangements have been adopted and used, without dissent, in many secular institutions of the world, always keeping the principle of respect and fairness. There is nothing wrong in emulating models of engagement from the “world,” namely, adopting those that make sense, have proven effective, and have been accepted widely. Moreover, the Ecumenical Patriarch has amply demonstrated his style of respect and fairness, and by making, often, serious concessions, as exemplified in the case of the Church of Estonia and a number of other cases.

I will now turn to the attention to class (c) of the original agenda, items 8, 9, and 10.

Science and technology. A long time has passed since the seven Ecumenical Synods and an avalanche of changes have occurred in the world, in every aspect of life, political, geography, economy, mores, and, importantly, science and technology. The Orthodox Church needs to acknowledge that the world, as we experience today, is far removed from the year 787 or 1054, or 1615, and reforms are needed to adjust to these enormous, and often radical, changes.  Therefore, a strong decision and statement is needed on the position of the Church vis-à-vis science ad technology. Fortunately, and wisely, the Orthodox Church has not seen it necessary, or appropriate, to engage herself in such issues, leaving them in the realm of scientists, and specialists, and to the broader society, if and when, to accept and apply. However, scientific progress has not always been to the benefit of mankind — it is not difficult, unfortunately, for persons of ill will or criminal purpose to use science and technology for ill purposes and to do damage. As a prime mover of the AACST, for over a decade, and current advisor to Archbishop Demetrios, of America, I have seen, first hand, how such progress has often been badly used. Although such advances have caused great benefit to the human race, especially in knowledge of the physical world, human health, economic productivity, energy production and usage, which have brought enormous improvements in living conditions and reduction of poverty, there exists a tendency, today, against science and technology as being “in the service of the Devil” as we see in certain monasteries that refuse (as is their right) to adopt these practices but is also worthy of praise, as they demonstrate their rejection of the pursuit of “prosperity” in favor of “spiritual elevation” and living close to Christ.   I would suggest that the Synod should examine the issue of science and make a strong statement that The Orthodox Church is not in opposition to science and recognizes its enormous benefits to the human race.  At the same time, this progress should not blind the Synod from seeing the great risks and potential for ill purposes, as we see today in: the continued development of larger, stronger, and better (smarter) weapons; the misuse of means of communication, like computers and the web; as well as for criminal purposes and cyber-terrorism, against which humanity is now girding to defend itself.

The Orthodox Church should not put herself in the conundrum of the Catholic Church, when she condemned Galileo for advocating that the earth system is heliocentric and not geocentric and sent him to exile. The Orthodox Church should nor interfere with science or deny its findings or its benefits (which are enjoyed enormously, and undeniably, by everyone today) and look at scientists as potential benefactors of mankind, so as to avoid being in the embarrassing position of the Catholic Church to apologize, (in the middle of the 20th century- 1962?) to the world for her grievous mistake, almost 450 years ago – 1615! At the same time, the Orthodox Church should not shy away from her duty to ring the alarm bell for negative, unethical, or plain criminal uses of science and technology and enlighten her faithful to guard against them. These risks are growing by the day in our world. An example of such serious risks, seen as worrisome by me but also by many others inside the Church and outside, who are better equipped to judge, is the recent discovery of a new biomedical technology to enable the “editing of DNA” and, thus, leading, in principle at least, to the potential of producing, first, animals, and later, human beings, “by design.” If this technology advances further, who is the one who will decide what a human being should be and who would be able to prevent a jihadist to produce a human being that conforms to his desires.  Those who are sensitive to such serious risks and have a good scientific understanding, or even those with a common man’s understanding of them, are obligated to raise a red flag.  Serious ethical questions arise from his development.

The urgent need to abolish all nuclear weapons.  It has been recognized by many thinkers, leaders of social institutes, organizations and politicians that the nuclear weapons pose an existential, the No. 1, risk to the security of the entire world, as we know it. President Obama, an enlightened President, has made it, correctly in my opinion, his major goal during his tenure as president to ask all countries of the world to agree and implement a world without nuclear weapons. Great progress has been made recently with the Iran Deal, an agreement of almost all U.N. countries (with one or two exceptions), to bring the country of Iran to an agreement to retire existing nuclear weapons materials, under supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) or to move existing amounts to Russia, and commit, under international guarantees, to not pursue nuclear weapons for at least ten or fifteen years. However, the risk is growing at an alarming rate.  The number of nuclear weapons owned by the U.S. and Russia has been reduced from about seven thousands each to a couple of thousands, currently, but other nuclear weapons states have announced increases (in approximate numbers): India from 200 to 300 warheads, Pakistan from 300 to 400 warheads, Israel moving ahead, with 300 warheads or so, although not announcing, with more and stronger nuclear weapons, seeking a capacity 10 times larger that currently existing to hit an underground storage or large hill)  by a super weapon.  From the original nuclear weapons states (U.S., UK, France, Russia and China), four additional nations are now weapons capable (India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea – the latter continuing, blatantly, to develop and test existing or new weapons (although it has announced that it would not use them unless its security, territorial integrity, or sovereignty are threatened).  If one such launching occurs, by error or misunderstanding, not an unlikely event, and at a modest explosive capacity, how are other nuclear nations to react?  Easily, a chaotic situation may ensue and large destruction of property and large cost in human lives will probably occur.   I am reminding the Synod of the total of about 220,000 deaths that occurred within seconds (or minutes), following the first use of the awesome power of these weapons with the dropping of the first atomic bombs on Hiroshima (August 6) and Nagasaki (August 9) in 1945. It has been said, recently, by President Obama that “by using the first nuclear weapon in Hiroshima, humanity has now proven that it now possesses the capacity to destroy itself!”

The goal of a world without weapons is talked about frequently but, realistically speaking, it remains a distant dream. Many serious consultants in the U.S. (and, I am sure, in Russia, China, Israel and other countries) are vigorously advocating the continued development and improvement of these weapons as the ultimate guarantee of their security (!) Given this background, how does one ensure that one of the 9 now existing nuclear countries will not feel threatened by an aggressive neighbor (who can be imaginary rather than real, as has happened before) to a point at which launching such a devastating weapon may seem to be justified? Or, how does one guarantee that the Islamic State (IS) does not manage to steel or procure and then explode a, so-called, dirty weapon, or to take the weapon to a state (equipped with delivery systems) with grievances strong enough to make them use such weapons? A first launch of nuclear weapon may lead to an avalanche of launches creating total chaos and causing large, devastating damage to cities and millions or billions of deaths – literally, an end to civilization as we know it.

Although previous Church Synaxes, Councils, and Committees have made strong statements against war and violence, it seems, appropriate for the Synod, in light of the above background on nuclear-weapons, to address this existential treat to humanity and make a strong statement in favor of urgently retiring and destroying nuclear weapons from the face of the earth (as other religious leaders, have already done).

Violence, especially against Children and women 

Although war and violence have been always the plague of humankind, since its arrival on this earth, one cannot avoid being deeply disturbed by the explosion of war and violence in today’s world, often justified by the will of God (Allah u akhbar!)  The Christian Church is not entirely innocent of such egregious distortion of the Christ’s message of love as the supreme essence of His message, inventing all kinds of excuses to justify her, often institutional rather than merely individual, violation of principle and ethical behavior as seen in, among other cases, the Crusades, severe punishment of heretics in the time of Justinian, the official sanctioning of torture (the Holy Inquisition), the religious wars, and the blessing of arms to be used to kill enemies, in the name of patriotism, ignoring the words of the Lord that ”those who live by the sword, will also die by the sword.”

It is heart-rending to hear and observe that much of the current violence is targeted against women and children – who have been always in the mind and affection of the Lord (e.g., talking with the Samaritan woman and first appearance after His Resurrection, to women). The daily press is replete with stories of violence that makes you shudder!  This castigation should be addressed not only toward the exorbitant wars of the Middle East, some times with attacks against those who worship in a way different than theirs and are considered heretics, thus killing persons, often including many women and children of their own faith, but also in increasing violence in so called “civilized” countries with the wide availability of guns, including heavy military-style guns, often perpetrated by children of young age.  The inability of organized societies, like the U.S. and others, to deal with this out-of-control problem is caused by an army of lobbyists who make their living by promoting the manufacture and selling of guns for nothing but financial gain – a naked disregard of ethical principles and common sense. Although the Orthodox Church has always pronounced her condemnation of war and violence, I would suggest a stronger statement by the Synod is in order to castigate, unequivocally, the explosion of violence, especially against women and children and their motivation for financial gain. Such as strong statement would show that the Orthodox Church is with the fullness of her members and listens and responds to their real concerns, and needs, rather than wasting her time debating what calendar she should be using or how to adjust the various jurisdictions! To quote the great St. Paul, the Apostle of the nations to Titus (Tit 3,9)–“avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless,” “μωράς δε ζητήσεις και γενεαλογίας, και έρεις και μάχας νομικάς περιΐστασο, εισίν γαρ ανωφελείς και μάταιοι.”

Creation Care.  The concern for the environment has come to sharp focus of religious leaders, including the Ecumenical Patriarch and the bishop of Rome, (as he prefers to be called), Francis, in his recent encyclical Laudato si. ”  Some theologians take the view that it is not the proper scope of the Church to enter into scientific, technical or other ”secular” issues, like the environment and climate change. My view is, based on my own view that Climate Change is an existential issue for mankind, my extensive discussions with professional colleagues and associates, my capacity as Senior Advisor to His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios, and in parishes and committees on Creation Care in the Washington area and elsewhere, is that: the Chaniá Synod should address, in addition to scientific and policy aspects, these critical environmental issues from their own position of spiritual strength and influence, namely by urging their faithful members toward a different way of life, stemming from a change of mind “μεταμορφούσθε εν τη ανακαινώσει του νοός υμών.  (πρός Ρωμ. 12, 2).  The specifics would be: “live in simplicity and frugality, practice fasting, face your neighbors with respect and love, treat nature and protect it as stewards and not as owners and users, make your goals spiritual and not material, do not worship prosperity above all else, base you happiness on the principles and values of your faith and in community with others, not against others, battling against the thirst for power and money interests (φιλαργυρία), and promote peace by throwing away egotism.  Fr. John Chryssavgis has eloquently, and extensively, addressed all these issues in his books and articles and should be able to contribute substantially to this item of the agenda.

The Role of the Laity and women.  The final point I wish to touch upon is the issue of the Role of the Laity in the Church. I am fully aware of the distinction between the clergy and the laity (έχοντες ούν υμείς χαρίσματα κατά την χάριν την δοθείσαν υμίν διάφορα) but  Ι have not seen the role of the laity given appropriate weight in the Orthodox Church (in fact, I have seen more involvement of lay persons in the liturgical life of the Catholic Church than in the Orthodox). I am fully aware of the desire and mind of Archbishop Demetrios, who gave me a significant role in the Science and Technology Committee and also of the Ecumenical Patriarch who has involved laypersons in various committees and ecclesiastical bodies in the life of the Church, including an invitation for them to make contributions to the preparation and proceedings of the Holy and Great Synod of Chaniá — this text, which I am submitting with due reverence and humility, is in response to this invitation. However, I still believe that the role of the laity (men and women) has not been given the appropriate weight it deserves in order for them to make a significant contribution in the life of Church, other than in financial, political, and administrative matters. In the U.S., a strong and devoted organization exists, called the Orthodox  Christian Laity (OCL) but, although I am a member and share their ideas and goals, its relations with the Archdiocese have not been (as I can tell) very close, or effective. I find this deficiency a symptom of clericalism, which needs to be abandoned and corrected as a better relationship is engaged.

Related to the above paragraph, last but not least, is the role of women, which should be brought forth in the sight of the Synod and the possibility and conditions for women joining the clerical orders (especially as women deacons) be placed on the agenda. From my contacts with members of my parish and the broader members of GOARCH and other religious bodies, I feel there is significant support for such upgrading of the role of women in the church. I recall (perhaps, not verbatim), a few years back, the statement of a top theologian of the Orthodox Church (Pergamou Ioannis),  sitting next to me at lunch, saying that, in his view, there do not exist any impediments to the acceptance of women in the clerical ranks of the Church. Be this as it may, the issue needs to be brought forth and discussed seriously and openly.

___________________

I hope that my comments and suggestions, above, would be found useful and constructive and motivated by respect, modesty, and humility as well as by my sincere love for the Orthodox Church.


A brief CV
(with emphasis on Church membership, contacts, participation and contributions).

Although I am fairly well known in the GOARCH, I take the liberty to present myself for those who may read the comments that may be installed on the website for the Great Synod and do not know who I am and may wonder who is this man who has the temerity to provide advice to the members of the Great Synod.  I have been a faithful member of the Greek Orthodox Church since my early youth (1950s) and member of youth organizations (XMO), in Volos, Greece, my home town, and Athens, when I went there to study at the Metsovion Polytechnic (Mech. & Elec. Eng’g), when I developed a close friendship and became collaborator of, then laymen, Demetrios Trakatellis and Anastasios Giannoulatos, and became outreach leader on cultural  activities, in the Polytechnic as a member of the Christian Student Union (XEE). Later, I became a member of the Christian Union of Scientists (XEE) of which I am still member and occasional contributor to its periodical publication AKTINES (Rays).

After my trip to the U.S., with a Fulbright scholarship, I became a Bible study leader in Boston’ s Church of the Annunciation, during my studies at MIT, where I obtained my Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering (Febr. 1966). Later, I took a teaching position at ISU (Iowa State University, Ames IA) and  became a member of the St. George Orthodox Church in Des Moines, IA, and, later,  a Visiting professor at the University of Patras (1970-75). After resigning my position in Patras and returning to the U.S., I became member of St. George of Bethesda (1974-79) of which I served as Parish Council Vice President, later, when I joined the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), I became a member of the Antiochian Church of the Redeemer in Los Altos, CA and of St. Nicholas (GOARCH), of San Jose CA, giving occasional lectures on spiritual issues, (1979- 84), also Associate Research Professor (energy systems) at Stanford Univ.  Returning to the Washington area, I resumed my membership and became associate chanter of St. George of Bethesda (1984 to the present), giving occasional lectures on church and professional (water, energy and environment) matters. Around 1984, I became Principal Power Engineer of the World Bank (1984-96); during my tenure there, I visited many foreign countries during which I sought and had several opportunities to meet and have fruitful discussions with several local religious leaders. After my retirement from the WB (1996), I became a consultant to the private sector on energy and water purification projects and worked in several countries, of the Middle East and Asia, mostly in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These contacts gave me an invaluable understanding of a variety of religions and their cultures.

In 2001, I was appointed, by Archbishop Demetrios of America, Executive Director of the Archdiocesan Advisory Committee on Science and Technology (with about 50 members, mainly from the U.S. Cyprus, and Greece) until my retirement from this committee (2014). I continue, up to this day, as a Senior Advisor to the same committee. I was active in organizing sessions on matters of the Committee’s interest for the bi-annual Clergy-Laity Congresses in various cities of the U.S. I was invited twice, to participate and speak to the annual Assemblies of the Metropolis of San Francisco (Metropolitan Gerasimos) for church-related lectures. In 2003, I was inducted into the Order of St. Andrew, the Apostle (the Archons) and was asked to represent the Order at the annual conferences of he Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), for five years (2009-2013) and defend minority rights and the freedom of religion, on behalf of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, against ill treatment and unacceptable interference by the Government of Turkey. During this period of my career in the U.S, I traveled to Greece, regularly (for family and professional reasons), and maintained close contacts and collaboration with members of XEE, the Monastery of Zoe in Saint Paraskevi, the Center Apostolos Pavlos (Archimandrite Elias Mastroyannopoulos), the Monastery of Chryssopigi, Metropolises of Volos (Metrop. Ignatios) and Mesogaias (Metrop. Nikolaos), Fr. Antonios Pinakoulas (St Panteleimon) and other clergy in the Athens area and gave a large series of lectures on scientific, spiritual and church matters in local conferences and meetings. Over the years, in addition to my professional activities and publications, I have also published a large number of articles in the Volos newspaper Thessalia, on technical (energy, environment) and church-related subjects. I maintain close contacts and communication with a good number of Metropolitans, in Greece, Cyprus, and the U.S., including a recent invited lecture (Dec. 4, 2015) at the Spiritual Center of the Metropolis Demetriados  (city of Volos), with the Metropolitan Ignatios being present and offering, after my talk, approving comments.

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