The Lonely Path of Integrity
Stone Studio

TGANews - February 9, 2003

Sacred  Panic

By Justine Frangouli-Argyris

The Phanar has found itself in a state of panic as Spyridon, the former Archbishop of America, visited his former diocese in NY after three and a half years of total seclusion in Europe. The panic was such that the hallowed backrooms of power began once again to spread out misinformation in an attempt to create a climate of uncertainty and provoke a new wave of terror within the Greek American community and the Greek government.

Extremely popular, the former Archbishop of America, in spite of distance and three years of absence, rallied 1500 Greek Americans for the inauguration of the "Archbishop Spyridon Foundation for Hellenic Culture and Education ", sending waves of panic through the Phanar corridors and to his slanderers. These are the same players who three years ago, in order to achieve Spyridon's ousting, had persistently claimed he had no supporters and was totally alone.

The Head of the Orthodox Church is well aware of the facts. He and those he is flanked by realize they have betrayed their own child. They are conscious of the fact that they let him down because he had refused to accept to go along with the dismemberment of the Archdiocese of America into Metropolitanates. They leaked out rumors and slanders against their own hierarch because he had refused to comply with the instructions of their vicar in America, Fr. Alex Karloutsos.

The Patriarchal circles are well aware of the facts. Spyridon handed in his pre-dated resignation in July 1999 and honored his word by leaving the USA after his resignation, while in contrast, the Patriarchate hastened to elect him as Metropolitan of Chaldia in an attempt to cancel his title as Former Archbishop of America and in violation of the agreements made. Those at the Patriarchate are cognizant of the fact that Bartholomew, while having promised that Spyridon's pension had been taken care of, once again let him down the very next day by tabling the issue ad calendas grecas. Demetrios' executive committee reversed the resolution made by the previous executive board to grant the former Archbishop his legitimate pension, so as to deprive him of any legal basis for future claims.

Archbishop Demetrios even declined the offer made by a prominent Greek American to establish within the Archdiocese a special Patriarchal Fund of $ 2.000.000 that could generate a pension for Spyridon. Those in charge of the Archdiocese to this day refuse to settle the matter because they would like to see him driven to despair and total humiliation.

Yet, Spyridon rose once again to the occasion. He set forth for a distant refuge, leaving behind him an unquestionable legacy of three years. With all their defamation of his character, the divisive circles who had achieved his ousting have not been able to obliterate his legacy for Hellenic education and lobbying for national issues. Besides, Demetrios has managed, among other things, to bring Hellenic education to complete stagnancy. He also succeeded in paralyzing Holy Cross School of Theology, increasing the Archdiocese deficit by quite a few million dollars, and dissipating all Greek lobby voices in Washington.

The legend that the current Archbishop is implementing a peace-loving policy does not convince anyone anymore. The Greek American people are looking for a leader. This is why, arriving from all parts of America to see Spyridon, be it only for a few hours, they welcomed their former Church leader so warmly. There were no buses with Fr. Efraim's supporters. Yet, there were buses from Montreal's Hellenic community and Quebec's Hellenic Congress which as Greek institutions hastened to embrace Spyridon. There were 20 young couples from South Carolina who adore their spiritual leader even though he had briefly visited their parish only once. There were John and Margo Catsimatidis, Bill Tenet, Leo and Eve Condakes, Georgia and Dimitri Kaloidis.

Hasn't the Phanar realized why Spyridon, in spite of the inexorable war waged against him to this day, despite his extremely brief ministry in America, has been able to maintain the respect of so many powerful Greek American figures, people that still occupy key positions within the Archdiocese of America?

Be it as it may and in spite of the fact that they took away his inalienable right to liturgize in his former diocese and in his country of birth, Spyridon always remains the people's Archbishop. This is why on that odd Sunday the chanter's voice hovered sublimely on the phrase "Eis polla eti Despota" for an eternity and one day !!!

[Translated from Greek]