Greek Press - April, 2008
As Christendom's greatest holiday, Easter, Orthodox Easter is upon us, we reflect on the very reason we celebrate: Jesus' resurrection. It is a holiday that brings us joy, joins us together as families to rejoice and for those who call themselves faithful, to offer thanks to the Lord whose sacrifice on the cross has saved our souls from eternal banishment.
What we just noted sounds good as a portrait of any Orthodox family, yet we know, this portrait has been terribly flawed at the expense of our faith and we ask you, not "why is it so," but "why not" when our Church has suffered irreparable damage by those who are designated to uphold it. Yes, readers, by the very same people, some of whom are wearing the habit, but would not think twice before they commit an assortment of crimes, from simple adultery to misappropriation of millions and more. Those, my friends, are the rulers -whatever choice real estate they rule from- and while they call for the flock to be pious and to contribute all they can, they continue to strip the Church of what does not belong to them. This is why education in the language of our forefathers within our fold has withered. Thus is why there is no wealth left in the former bastion of Orthodoxy in the Western Hemisphere. The bastion has been dismembered by those who had an interest in keeping a good grip on its finances and even created false scandals to remove whoever stood in their path. Scandals left and right, which they created, while at the same time mutely enriched themselves and became power brokers, a thing that made them stronger, more arrogant and more wealthy.
Who, we ask you is getting hurt in the long run by these overlords of our Orthodox Christianity in the Western Hemisphere? Isn't it our children and our grandchildren? Can you describe to us the state of education in the parish schools and the rest of the institutions belonging to the ultimate authority at New York's East 79th Street? How many millions have these overlords spared from the money they strip us of, to channel towards education? It has gotten so that if some kind and wealthy individuals did not contribute large sums of money privately, there wouldn't be any Greek Education!
Why is that we ask! Did our parishes cease collecting from the congregants enough to satisfy the need? Did the numbers of the faithful have dwindled to such degree that no money trickles into the Archdiocese? No, nothing changed here, but what changed in the last twenty years is the way our overlords have been conducting business. The money earmarked for education of the next generation and for charitable purposes still goes to charitable purposes: Personal charity for them, from which a large portion goes for the dispensing of bribes to make their work much easier. Yes, much regrettably, for bribes.
It saddens us that even Stella Meimaraki who wrote the Who's Who in the propelling of Greek issues in America for the Athenian daily Proto Thema's Big Fish magazine under the title "My Big Fat Greek Lobby" did not quite grasp the extent of the corruption. We're not saying that everyone she included in vivid photographs is guilty of corruption -though nearly everyone is- yet we must warn of a great omission, one of the biggest of fishes: The "permanent" president of the Archdiocesan Council, whose role is well described in Justine Frangoulis' Archbishop Spyridon biography. The Lonely Path of Integrity, a book every communicant of the Greek Orthodox Church of North AND South America should've read but neglected to, though it was issued in Greek and English editions. Had more Greek Orthodox read the book, they would've understood this extensive corruption, even though former Archbishop Spyridon himself failed to detect many of the schemes that his enemies set up against him and perceived some of the "goons" pitted against him by the protagonists of this sad situation, as his friends.
Well now, don't you think that it was worth of his archenemy to attempt to buy the entire book stock before it reached the bookstores, though he failed? He did something close however, and it might account for what saved him from disgrace: The book unfortunately did not enjoy the immense popularity it really, really deserved. Those who rule on East 79th Street are clearly defined in the book and you have to really be underprivileged not to understand that or react in an appropriate way.
Now the question arises as to Archbishop Demetrios' role in this quagmire! Is he an innocent bystander or is he also tainted by the same hues of the schemers around him? We say yes to this verdict, simply by default. If you have read the Spyridon biography, you would already know that the first paragraph on page 114 describes very clearly what the band of corruptors wanted him to do. We are quoting here from the book, which goes on to say that he, the Archbishop was asked to "restrict his role to that of celebrant and preacher merely conveying the 'new vision' to Greek Orthodox communities throughout the country. Administration, Jaharis insisted, should not take up the Archbishop's time! Spyridon was told Jaharis himself would hold down the fort."
Now, if this was the scene with Spyridon as he assumed his duties in the shattered Archdiocese of North and South America, why was it different with the Demetrios tenure? The only difference we see is that Demetrios adhered to the directives given where Spyridon rightfully challenged them. But we find that this action in itself is sinful. Sinful it is to conceal unacceptable terms for his tenure. Sinful it is that an Archbishop yields his own authority to a layman or a more sinful priest. Had he been the right man for the office of Archbishop he would've spoken openly about it, and with the criminally intent that dared wrestle his authority from him. Then his congregation, instead of criticizing him would have supported him and perhaps the battle against evil would've been won.
For the record, the individuals in this leadership, have committed, as it is described by Spyridon's book, every offense imaginable and then some. From vindictiveness against those who oppose evil to treachery by which to win their causes. And we are not even touching financial dealings -which is another mammoth chapter of their days and deeds.