The Lonely Path of Integrity
Stone Studio

Eseis - March 2001

The Book That Caused an Uproar

The Lonely Path of Integrity by journalist Justine Frangouli-Argyris

reveals telling facts about the troubled period 1996-1999,

when Spyridon was Archbishop of America

By Panikos Panaghiotou

The three years which shook the Orthodox Church in America could not be allowed to pass without comment by observers and historians looking for a comprehensive picture of all elements pertaining to the administration of public affairs. Journalist Justine Frangouli-Argyris presents her own testimony on the troubled period 1996-1999, giving the whole issue a new dimension through the revelation of details and events that continue to have a strong impact on the state of Orthodoxy and Hellenism in America.

With her Lonely Path of Integrity, Frangouli has written a book that serves as an important point of reference for events transpired in the Greek-American community. Already, the overwhelming demand for the new book has led Exandas Publishers to bring out new prints. Based on the personal journal, the notes and the archives of the former Archbishop of America, Spyridon, on the photograph archive of the Papageorge family, on the author's own journalistic material, and on interviews with figures close to the Archbishop and the events, the book comes to reveal, confirm and call into question what has been said and written about Spyridon's controversial ministry.

The book brings to light power games, economic interests, political expediencies, personal ambitions and vindictive attitudes which to this day still plague the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States.

In the book's introduction one reads:

"More than a simple portrayal of a religious leader, who from an early age was destined for the cloth, the book endeavors to shed light on the journey of a child who was born in America, grew up in Greece, was educated in Europe, and served the Church for 25 years in Switzerland and Italy as a cleric of the Ecumenical Patriarchate before coming full circle and ending up in his native America as Archbishop.

A careful reading of his multifaceted life and ecclesiastical career reveals a man who brought luster to the Orthodox Church in Italy and America as he strove to preserve Byzantine Orthodox tradition and to ensure the survival of Hellenism in the Diaspora. He lived by and ultimately fell defending the banner of "Orthodoxy-Hellenism," intertwined notions on whose axis his turbulent career was doomed to turn.

The book attempts to take a judicious, well-documented look at the personality of a church leader assailed by exponents of an arrogant conception of church governance. It dispels the illusion that the Greek-American community could emerge unscathed from the incessant manipulation by the back rooms of power. This biography focuses mostly on Spyridon's three-year ministry, from the rise to the fall of the fifth Archbishop of America."

At another point, the author notes:

"The tactics that divided the Greeks of America into factions lay the Ecumenical Patriarchate open to charges of neo-papism. This has caused nearly irreparable harm to relations between Greek Orthodox and other Orthodox communities.

All during Archbishop Spyridon's tempestuous three years in office, power brokers spun a web of Byzantine intrigue. Their machinations spread through the Phanar involving Metropolitans, priests, laypersons, Greek-American media, and major Greek and American newspapers.

Patriarchate cohorts in America played a decisive role in concocting and disseminating a crisis throughout the Church of America and indeed throughout the entire Greek-American community. Later, the Greek Government, aces up its sleeve, entered the scene."

[Translated from Greek]