The Greek-American community is faced with a deep crisis. It’s time the Phanar – the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate – made some important decisions before it’s too late.
If it fails to appoint a new archbishop soon to replace the outgoing Demetrios or if it does not make the right choice, it will lose America. And if it loses America, it will lose everything. It is from there that it draws a large part of its power and economic support.
Who would want to see such a development? And who can disregard the profound implications that would result from the loss of Constantinople’s primacy in the Orthodox world? These questions should concern those who are honestly concerned about the fate of the Greek-American community.
The ties have already loosened. Assimilation is proceeding fast, because there is no institution that can effectively bring together the descendants of Greek migrants in the United States. Following the retirement of Archbishop Iakovos of America, the prestige and influence has waned despite the valiant efforts of Father Alexander Karloutsos, who was the only one who tried to keep with his tradition.
The disastrous navel-gazing of the current leadership has escalated due to the financial woes of the archdiocese and the scandal surrounding the cost overruns in the much-delayed construction of Saint Nicholas Church at the World Trade Center in New York. The forces promoting an autocephalous or self-governing Orthodox Church are gaining momentum.
Apart from the Church, which plays a key role, the diaspora also needs powerful figures to lead the Greek-American lobby. The timing is good for Greek interests due to the unpredictability of Turkey and Greece’s strategic relationship with Israel and Egypt. The Church and the Greek-American lobby (with very few bright exceptions including the Hellenic American Leadership Council – HALC – a Greek-American advocacy organization) appear stuck in the 1990s.
Greece has never won its major battles without its diaspora taking center stage. Therefore, for this reason, filling the leadership vacuum in the Greek Orthodox Church of America and rallying the Greek-American lobby must be a top national priority.
This is yet another article that sees the Greek Orthodox Church of AMERICA consisting of the “diaspora,” and referring to her members as “Greek-Americans.”
I am a 10 year Protestant convert to the Greek Orthodox Church, with no ties to Greek heritage, but was attracted by the Faith itself. By the Grace of God, my wife and three children followed after me, and we are an Orthodox Family.
We are not alone! Many Protestants are converting. The GOA is NOT made up solely of ethnic Greek immigrants, or Greek-Americans. It’s time the Archdiocese, and reporters, saw the GOA as more inclusive. After all, we have souls too, we have money too, and we can help by lobbying Congress too.
Hellenism in America at a Crossroad helps me realize that the Church is not Hellenic or Slavic. The Church is Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected. The crisis of the Orthodox Christian Church in America is that we view it as a preservation society for Hellenism and Slavic and other cultural/tribal longings. We need to move ahead with putting the administration of the Church back into good order and canonical order by having all the bishops of all jurisdictions become one synod working in synergy with the laity through accountable and transparent administrative procedures. These changes would be the catalyst for the renewal of the Orthodox Christian Church in the United States.