“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them,

and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

But it shall not be so among you:

but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto,

but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28, KJV)

The word the Athenians used for their Assembly was Ekklesia, the same word used in the New Testament for Church
(and it is the greatest philological irony in all of Western history that this word,
which connoted equal participation in all deliberation by all members,
came to designate a kind of self-perpetuating, self-protective Spartan gerousia -
which would have seemed patent nonsense to Greek-speaking Christians of New Testament times,
who believed themselves to be equal members of their Assembly.)

- Thomas Cahill, Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter


Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Root of Our Problems

The years following the "resignation" of the late Archbishop Iakovos, Archbishop of North and South America, who was essentially fired by his godson, the Patriarch Bartholomew, will not and should not be remembered kindly. Following this departure of a strong and widely influential leader, who had the ear of numerous Presidents, and other influential politicians, our Patriarch sent Archbishop Spyridon, a native son, to be leader of the Archdiocese that now only consisted of the United States.

It should have been an excellent appointment. But Spyridon for all his talents, a fluent speaker in multiple languages, proved to be a highly divisive leader who quickly managed to make enemies everywhere, among both clergy and laity, Greek and non-Greek speaking faithful. With the recommendation of the regional diocesan bishops to an initially reluctant Patriarch, he was finally reassigned. The bishops were then elevated as Metropolitans, Archbishops in their own regions. The Archdiocese of the United States, ostensibly under the leadership of newly appointed Archbishop Demetrios, was thus further divided and decentralized.

The consequences for the laity under this new arrangement were drastic. Along with the initial division of the former Archdiocese of North and South America, into Canada, the U.S. and Latin America, Patriarch Bartholomew, conscious of efforts by the faithful at greater autonomy, or autocephaly, or a union of all Orthodox in the United States, practiced the classic tactic of "divide and conquer". Although Demetrios was named Archbishop over all the U.S., by naming the bishops as Metropolitans and assigning them as Archbishops over their respective regional archdioceses, he watered down Demetrios' potential influence and strength and provided the Metropolitians their own de facto fiefdoms over which to rule, further dividing Greek Orthodoxy in the United States.

As if these divisions weren't disastrous enough, our Patriarch gave the faithful in this country a new charter, ratified by the Clergy-Laity Congress where dissenting voices were ignored or stifled. New Uniform Parish Regulations were imposed, with stiff penalties for those communities not paying their "fair share" of monies and unquestioning obeisance to their Metropolitans, who advised their parish priests to assert a more draconian authority as well.

Those who dissented began to pay dearly. Entire boards were dismissed in cities in every Metropolis throughout the country. Individuals who objected too strenuously were threatened with excommunication. The clergy at every level adopted a more authoritarian approach and demanded control over every facet of parish life, not contenting themselves as before, with focusing on ministering to their flock's spiritual needs.

The hierarchy began to assert that all properties of individual communities now belonged to the Archdiocese, rather than to the faithful who built them. "Pay, pray and obey" became the order of the day.

In the midst of this struggle, further turmoil is currently brewing with the discovery that the church has paid nearly ten million dollars to settle and/or cover-up cases involving sexual misconduct by the clergy. Particularly distressing are those cases involving our children.

In view of this increasingly untenable situation, the purpose of this blog site is simply to provide a forum for those who want to TAKE OUR CHURCH BACK. The site will allow the expression of diverse opinions - even those in disagreement with our purpose.

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