Recent History of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Decisions Related to the GOA
The recent record of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s “governance” of the GOA:
- The forced retirement of Archbishop Iakovos (1996);
- Rejection of the gathering of the Orthodox Bishops in America at Ligonier, Pennsylvania (1995);
- Election of Archbishop Spyridon (1997);
- Imposition of the current Charter against the wishes of the Los Angeles Clergy-Laity Congress (2003);
- Imposition of a new Archbishop from Turkey who has not served in the US, without any input or participation of the clergy or laity of the Archdiocese as required by previous Charters (2019);
- Unilateral “suspension” (2020) followed by “reinstatement” (2022) of the 2003 Charter;
- Creation of a Charter committee and then ignoring its attempt to provide input (2022).
These actions and their consequences display the disconnectedness of the Ecumenical Patriarchate from the reality of what the Church in America needs.
Some Necessary Provisions of the New Charter
- Grant full autonomy to the GOA (to elect its bishops and Archbishop, subject only to the “right” of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to reject him based on strong, provable moral objections).
- Address and focus on the needs of the Orthodox Church in the United States.
- Allow the GOA to lead the Assembly of Bishops in the United States and bring the Church in America into canonical order as mandated by the meetings at Chambesy (one Church in the territory of the United States that is united and autocephalous).
- Separate the GOA’s responsibility of working as a religious and educational institution from its function of acting as a lobby and fundraiser for foreign governmental interests and international causes. The Archdiocese is not a cultural institution to restore the glory of Byzantium, Hellenism, or Balkan glories of the past. Special interest groups within the Archdiocese must have a separate existence and not siphon funds needed to support the Metropolises and Parishes in their work to fulfill the mission of the Church in the United States.
Getting the Charter Right
Getting the charter right is the work of all the faithful, clergy, and laity (including active and retired clergy, theologians, teachers, parish workers, parish council officers, choir members, Philoptochos members, and young adults).
What are your thoughts? Are you communicating with your Metropolitan, the Archdiocese, the Patriarchate, or the ten-member Mixed Commission appointed to revise the existing charter of the GOA? The names of the members from the Patriarchate have been publicized [Their Eminences Metropolitan Geron Emmanuel of Chalcedon and Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, The V. Rev. Grand Ecclesiarch Archimandrite Aetios, Director of the Patriarchal Private Office, and Dr. Konstantinos Delikostantis, Archon “Didaskalos Tou Genos,” Director of the First Patriarchal Office, and Professor Emeritus of the University of Athens]. However, the GOA has not published the names of the six members from the Archdiocese. Where do we offer input? The more than two-year process has been confusing, fragmented, and disillusioning. Where are the progress reports that we can see and read? Let’s not be spectators and continue to observe the decline of the GOA until it becomes a remnant church. Now is the time to seek answers, speak up, and get involved! Will you be part of the solution?
Executive Director Emeritus, Orthodox Christian Laity