Eleftherotypia (Sunday Edition) - July 11, 1999
CYPRUS DOOMS SPYRIDON
By Justine Frangouli
The ministry of Archbishop Spyridon of America seems to have
an expiration date before the anniversary of Turkey's invasion of Cyprus.
He was summoned to Constantinople today, Sunday July 12, to be briefed on
the Patriarchate's resolutions concerning the future of the Church in
America as well as his own ministry henceforward.
Greek-American circles estimate that the Patriarch's haste in calling
on Spyridon to travel to the Phanar immediately is due to Bartholomew's
profound concern about the Archbishop's intense efforts to advance the
Cyprus issue. Such action will result in rigid demands made to President Clinton
in a letter to be signed by the entire Greek-American lobby.
Archdiocesan Council President John Catsimatidis who has sought to play an
advisory role on archdiocesan matters, was upon his own request granted an
audience with the Patriarch for next Tuesday. Many regard this fact as an
indication that Archbishop Spyridon may be given longer time on certain conditions.
Meanwhile, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a meeting held late on
Friday evening, decided not to involve itself in the question of whether Archbishop
Spyridon should stay or go, and not to veto any successor proposed by the
Phanar, as long as the successor can guarantee the unity of the Greek American
community and cooperate with the Greek government on Greek National issues.
Thus, the Greek government, in giving the Patriarchate a free hand, avoids
shouldering the responsibility for any consequences that the removal of Archbishop
Spyridon might have. In spite of all this, such ousting is not yet considered
But while speculation over Archbishop Spyridon's replacement rages, the
scenario for a succession entails certain problems, given that the Patriarch
has a limited choice. The successor would have to meet with the approval of
the five US Metropolitans and of certain influential Greek American magnates
controlled by Fr Alex Karloutsos, Spyridon's adversary and a friend of
While Metropolitan Dimitrios of Vresthena was offered the post of "locum
tenens" of the Archdiocese of America and he declined it, recent press
articles back Stylianos, Archbishop of Australia, for Spyridon's successor.
Although highly-educated and with administrative experience, Archbishop Stylianos
has for the last two and a half years been at odds with the Phanar. Equally,
it is felt that in spite of his long tenure he has not succeeded in bridging
the gap between Archdiocese of Australia and the local Old Calendarist communities.
Furthermore, he has called down upon himself the wrath of the Greek Foreign
Ministry's diplomats, as he has come at times into open conflict with
many of them.
Other names mentioned are those of Michael, Metropolitan of Austria, inexperienced
in American church affairs, and Nikitas, Metropolitan of Hong Kong, whose
appointment seems, at present, to be opposed by the five US Metropolitans.
US Church circles believe that the only solution that could satisfy all groups
-the Metropolitans and the environment of Fr Karloutsos, without concurrently
causing strong reactions from Archbishop Spyridon's supporters- would
be Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh. Metropolitan Maximos is a graduate
of the Halki Theological School, is acceptable to the other four Metropolitans,
and is acquainted with America's ecclesiastical affairs.
Nevertheless, the Phanar artfully suppresses all mention of his name, unwilling
to let its sole candidate get a bad press, given that Metropolitan Maximos
had recently committed a theological faux-pas by signing a joint Orthodox-Catholic
document that recognized the validity of Catholic baptism. In fact, the theological
text placed Catholic and Orthodox baptisms on an equal footing and, furthermore,
proposed that the Ecumenical Patriarchate should annul the patriarchal decree
of 1755 that refused recognition to Catholic baptism.
In any case, no one rules out the possibility that Archbishop Spyridon patches
things up with the Patriarch, as long as he promises to work with Fr Alex
Karloutsos. Patriarch Bartholomew, held responsible for Archbishop Iakovos'
ousting, is aware that the dismissal of two Archbishops in the span of three
years (it is considered certain that Archbishop Spyridon will refuse to tender
his resignation) will be detrimental to the prestige of both, the Patriarchate
and the Archdiocese, since all will realize that any solution to the issue
is only temporary and reversible.
[Translated from Greek]