ERA-5 - March 14, 1999
New Problems for the Archdiocese of America
By Justine Frangouli
The Archdiocese of America seems to have entered a new phase
of crisis following the election of three new bishops to serve in the Atlanta,
New Jersey and Detroit dioceses. Such elections by the Patriarchates
Holy Synod are actually an encouragement to the five Metropolitans and only
increase Archbishop Spyridon's isolation within the Eparchial Synod of
Alexios, Bishop of Troas, appointed to the Atlanta diocese, is known to be
a supporter of Archbishop Spyridon, while George, Bishop of Komana, appointed
in New Jersey, has repeatedly voiced his disagreement with Archbishop Spyridon
in a strong and public manner.
Archimandrite Nicholas Pisari, appointed in Detroit, although appearing at
the moment to be neutral, nevertheless is known for his close attachment to
Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh whom he served as chancellor for a number
Thus, within the Eparchial Synod which now counts nine members (five Metropolitans,
three newly-appointed Bishops and the Archbishop), the balance swings towards
the Metropolitans who have expressed their strong opposition to the Primate
of the Church. In fact, in two letters published in October, they went as
far as to seek the removal of Spyridon from the Archiepiscopal throne.
While the Patriarchate, in its attempt to restore order in the Church of America,
reconfirmed Spyridon as America's Archbishop on January 12. Saturday's
episcopal elections essentially isolated him, since he will remain alone again
within the Eparchial Synod disposing of his own vote and perhaps that of Bishop
Alexios of Troas.
What are the reasons for the Patriarchate's turnaround? While a few weeks
before it had reconfirmed the current Archbishop (leaving his critics speechless),
why would it now basically weaken his position within an Eparchial Synod whose
seven (out of nine) members oppose him?
Some speak of the Patriarch's fear for the latest scenarios that portray
the Church of America as moving towards autocephaly with the five Metropolitans
as leaders. The criticism leveled at the Patriarch personally by circles in
favor of Spyridon's removal is particularly severe following the decision
taken by the Patriarchate on January 12. Hence, to accommodate the Metropolitans,
Bartholomew selected, for two out of the three vacant diocesan sees, Bishops
close to them. (It should be noted that the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate
elected each new Bishop on the basis of a three-person ballot prepared by
the Eparchial Synod in the United States).
Others again estimate that the Patriarch's selections were weighed heavily
by the fact that he now intends to be the arbiter of all goings-on within
the Archdiocese of America. In this way, by isolating the Archbishop with
only one friendly Bishop in the Synod, he can control the situation better
In any case, on vital issues of the Archdiocese that will emerge in the process
and while several communities are already moving towards revolt (i.e. refusing
to pay their contributions to the Archdiocese), the Eparchial Synod will side
against the Primate of the Church in America. The crisis will no longer be
promoted by GOAL's few members (Greek Orthodox American Leaders), as
the Archbishop persists on claiming, but through the determinative vote of
his seven opponents who will not leave him nor the Church of America rest.
This new phase is the most alarming in the whole spectrum of problems already
encountered by the Church of America.
[Translated from Greek]