Source: Orthodox Christian Laity
I have been on a holiday for most of the month of September and out of touch with the news that interests me… local, national and church news. After catching up with mail, emails, and quickly looking over weekly periodicals, etc. , I read about the issues of leadership, management and debt in published reports, that are being denied by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The issues involved go beyond what is in the reports. The crisis is systemic. It involves the Charter that was imposed by the Patriarchate. It involves the dismemberment of the Archdiocese into separate fiefdoms, controlled by the Patriarchate. It is the spoiled fruit of the plan to divide and control the Church in America.
Each Metropolis is almost autonomous. The Charter reduced the Archbishop to be a figurehead. It involves the unnatural relationship of a Mother Church to its Daughter Church. It involves the secularization of the Archdiocese, where its major financial donors have become separate entities within the Archdiocese — a kind of Chamber of Commerce, managed from abroad by a Patriarchal Nuncio who seems to have more power than the Archbishop. It involves efforts to control and co-opt once separate entities like AHEPA, Daughters of Penelope, and Philoptochos Societies under a concept of distorted Hellenism, providing honorific titles to their leadership. Most importantly, it involves lay leadership that is appointed at all levels to enable this sort of monolithic control. It is the final phase of the silencing of the voice of the lay leadership in the management of the Archdiocese!
With this overview, we must ask ourselves what it must be like to be a Bishop, a member of the Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese functioning in the USA. The recent efforts by the Synod to name a successor to the Metropolis of Chicago clearly demonstrates the picture that is presented above — a systemic crisis within the Archdiocese. The procedures for selecting a successor are part of the imposed Charter. The procedures were followed. The choice selected by the Hierarchs in America was rejected in Istanbul. The Hierarchs in America were directed to redo the list of eligible candidates. The attitude in Istanbul appears to be that no candidate born or educated in America is worthy to serve as Metropolitan or Archbishop. What an insult to our bishops and to the faithful who live and worship in the US. What a disrespectful situation.
What does this tell us about the status of the Archdiocese? Efforts were made to discuss the situation with the Patriarchate, and the Synod was invited to accompany the Archbishop to Istanbul. At least four found reasons not to attend the meeting. One reportedly said: “I agree with whatever the Patriarch decides!” There have been no reports or press conferences on this matter. There are few updates on matters related to governance within the Archdiocese. The person in the pew who supports this Church receives very little feedback on the management of these funds. This is the reason that there is all this chatter about mismanagement, failed leadership, possible bankruptcy.
Finally, it is up to those faithful who choose to remain within the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, to work together for systemic changes and to get our Church back on a course of being THE CHURCH. The way to fix this situation is to see the Church as it is, a Eucharistic community that communicates…hears and listens to each other with respect before it acts. It is a community that is accountable to each other. If we live our faith, all problems can be solved.
George Matsoukas, Executive Director
Orthodox Christian Laity