“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


Friday, December 7, 2012

Pots Calling Kettles Black

I was waiting until this month of November to make a final decision regarding the ratification of the parish council candidate; Mr. Yannis Armaou, to. the Pairsh (sic) Council, on the basis that the final payment to the attorney who handled the recent law suit against the previous parish council would be paid.

Your Eminence: There was NEVER any question but that the legal costs of your appointed would be paid. We supported that our newly elected Parish Council, in a selfless effort at reconciliation, chose to pay this bill. We paid our own legal bills that were incurred thanks to your intransigence and the unethical and illegal efforts of your appointed.

We knew that what your appointed were doing (and are still doing) - at your behest, then and now - not only was and is contrary to any tenets of Christian behavior; these actions were and still are also contrary to those UPRs you and they love to hide behind.

Be that as it may: we ARE anthropoi and good Christians! We forgave seventy times seven as the Lord instructed! We have continued to seek and yearn for unity! Only you, the Proistamenos-of-Prophet Elias-ONLY, and about six dozen people continue to thwart unity, and your actions in instructing certain parishioners to establish a separate corporation in the name of Prophet Elias (only) - in direct opposition to the instructions of the Archbishop and the Holy Synod - is but the latest example of that intransigence. It is not we who are disobedient, Your Eminence.

Unfortunately, however, the recent letter sent to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and to His Eminence. Archbishop Demetrios and attributed to Mr. Armaou regarding Father Michael Kouremetis forces me not to ratify his election. The reason for this is because the contents of the letter go against the Uniform Parish Regulations, Article 30, Section 4:

Attributed to Mr. Armaou? Mr. Armaou is a grown man - a man who understands and accepts the consequences of his actions. He sent letters to the Archdiocese and to the Patriarchate and signed his name! There is no "attribution"! No one TOLD him to do this or wrote those letters for him! Being rather articulate, he sent his thoughts and his words. Unlike others, he's not hiding behind anyone's cassocks! Mr. Armaou is no one's pawn.

It must be known by all the members of the Archdiocese, clergy, monastics, and la:ity, that the Uniform Parish Regulations have been reviewed and. approved, as they appear today, by the Ecumenical Patriarchate years ago. See Article 3, Section l,P. Our Patriarch would never go contrary to the official approval of the U.P.R.'s; neither, consequently, would the Archbishop.

Putting our Archbishop "on the spot" yet again? Your Eminence contends that the Archbishop submitted the decisions of Clergy-Laity Congresses to the Patriarch, and His Beatitude accepted such. No one, clearly, ever questioned among the hierarchy whether such ridiculous, one-sided constructs might have unintended consequences. So long as there was complete and utter control by the hierarchy, "what could go wrong?" WHAT, INDEED! Yet in the midst of this flawed situation, and even under those same flawed regulations, the Archdiocese and the Holy Synod quite specifically asked that you allow this community to heal and to make its own decisions as to if, when and how it might split. You won't abide by that decision, even though the flawed regulations say you must.

The fact that the Holy Synod asked that you desist in your truculent actions toward this community is, to you, meaningless. You're the top boss here - right? In your ongoing actions, you are not only bullying this community, you are also bullying the supposed "first among equals" in this country, Archbishop Demetrios! Haven't you said, over and over again, that the Archbishop and the Holy Synod can't tell you what to do in your Metropolis?

It is tragic to consider that the Patriarch, in assenting to this disastrous construct, in order to avoid dealing with another strong leader in America, such as Archbishop Iakovos, is destroying the vibrancy of Greek Orthodoxy and Hellenic culture in this country, and most certainly in this valley!

I have gotten to know Mr. Armaou in my several visits to the community, as well as his parents and have even had the occasion to share a meal in their home; and I have considered them fine people. I suspect that Mr. Armaou may have been used as a pawn and projecting someone else's thoughts and desires. Even so, I cannot, nor wish to go, against the Patriarchate; and therefore am unable to ratify his election because of the letter attributed to him.

Mr. Armaou a pawn? Obviously, you, as our "shepherd", clearly views his flock as ACTUAL sheep. Like many others who worship and serve in this community, Mr. Armaou is educated, forthright, hardworking, forceful, successful and has been a dynamic presence here for several decades. He recently chaired a very successful Greek Festival in September under highly difficult circumstances. He also worked tirelessly for the annual Thanksgiving dinner program for the city's needy and indigent at the church. Mr. Armaou does not deserve to be infantilized or demeaned in this manner.

Finally, please know that the Salt Lake community is the largest parish in the Denver Metropolis, Your recent parish council elections proved it. Know that the parish in Houston, Texas is immediately second in size, and it consistently has had four fulltime priests. If much of the stewardship monies of the Salt Lake community did not go to one of the four independent accounts, which are not under the custodianship of any current parish council, as has been happening in the community, the parish would easily have more than enough funds to submit its 2011 obligations, as well as its 2012 obligations to the  Archdiocese. Moreover, the parish would have ample funds to cover the full compensation of four or five fulltime priests, which would be appropriate to serve the spiritual needs of all the Greek Orthodox people in greater Salt Lake.

Houston Annunciation Cathedral at present has three - not four - priests, one of whom has a second (actually, his first) profession as a medical professional. We don't know the full allocation of parish resources with regard to the community's priests' income and benefits, but we do know that Houston, generally, is a more prosperous metropolitan area, with a far greater ratio of professionals, business people, companies and workers, where there are higher incomes than those to be found, per-capita, in Salt Lake City. While the number of families might now be similar, per-capita income in Houston is, on average, higher. In contrast to Utah, Texas also has no state income tax. His Eminence is comparing apples and oranges.

Further, the funds that our Metropolitan references in this community's separate accounts have been properly allocated - by General Assembly votes over the years - for specific projects. Considering that one of his appointed parish councils once held a quickly announced a special general assembly in the dead of winter in 2009, on a school night, and managed to wrest the funds from festivals - which were prior to that time NOT to be used as operating funds - his ongoing reference to these other restricted funds is more than disturbing.

QUESTION? If the separate accounts currently existing were to be suddenly transferred solely to the purview of the Parish Council, what would stop the Metropolitan from, yet again, disbanding an elected Parish Council, and later instructing yet another appointed council to reallocate those specific funds in order to suit his own purposes and those of his favored minority?

At the time when you, the current parish council assumed your responsibilities, I was assured that you would work together to bring peace and unity among all the people. Are the recent newspaper articles about the community part of this process? When do you plan to start in being faithful to your word?

That a bishop, who has never been troubled by going back on his word, has something to say of a parish council trying desperately to revitalize a community, that our Metropolitan had a huge part in sundering, and is apparently continuing to thwart, is accused of not being faithful to its word is simply galling! The only thing one can say about the Metropolitan's final sentence can be discussed in terms of pots calling kettles black.

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