- missed opportunities for badly needed church upgrades and expansion
- ongoing and pernicious squabbles that have put worthwhile projects on hold
- unilateral re-prioritization of projects to suit the needs and wishes of the few
- gross negligence in governance - including tax penalties and liens
- an audit revealing faulty accounting and operational practices
- resignations of parish council members under the cloud of conspiracy and ethics issues
- bullying by the hierarchy (using the sacred), and priests and parish council members (using the profane) against faithful, loyal stewards of several DECADES' standing
- dismissals of entire boards, and/or individual board members
- removal of stewards from ballots to ensure only certain individuals will be on the parish council (native Greek speakers need not apply!)
- capricious and arbitrary ecclesiastical sanctions for specious reasons, without benefit of hearing
- deliberate action to denigrate and cause harm to the reputations and livelihoods of outstanding stewards in the community
- stewardship declines
- dysfunction, confusion, sadness, frustration, outrage, apathy
Despite what their own numbers tell them and us, we are continually witnessing that which is not so easily measured - the depth of the human costs - the strained relationships - between parents, children, in-laws, siblings, cousins, koumbaroi, friends - that will take years to mend, if they mend at all.
Clergy are, we are told, "men of God." We would posit that to be "a man of God", you first have to be A MAN, and a GOOD man at that! To be a good man is to be a good husband, a good father, a good son, a good brother, a good friend. A good man loves the Lord, loves his spouse, loves his family, loves his friends. A good man is not just an observant Christian, more than that, he is an ethical Christian. A good man stands for what is right, despite the cost. A good priest, married or not, must go yet further and love his flock, exemplified by Jesus' love for His Church and for mankind. No professed MAN of God should ever foster, condone, or seek to excuse the situation that pits a community's members against each other. Yet, inexplicably, our clergy, our shepherds (lower and higher), have done so and continue to do so. A good man, and therefore a good clergyman, has "filotimo".
"Filotimo!" That most untranslatable of Greek words! Loosely, it means the honoring of friends, but more so, it denotes one who is a friend of HONOR! No one single word in the English language can describe it. It is an attribute of character described by the Hellenes that is very much in line with Christian love, Christian compassion, Christian empathy and Christian humility. It is a trait we ought to strive for in our reflections during this Lenten season.
Kali Sarakosti s'olous,
- Barbara Billinis Colessides