New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Following a long “siege”, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese has finally overtaken the buildings of the Transfiguration of Christ Parish in Corona. The “Fall of Corona” has taken place on March 25th, Greek National Independence Day, with the assistance of paid security guards, executing a temporary restraining order, that was granted by Honorable Justice Roger Rosengarten.
The latest events in Corona were predictable, especially since the verdict of the “Spiritual Court” that stripped the accused members of the non recognized parish council from their membership rights. The “spiritual court’s” decision prohibits the members from receiving Holy Communion, participating in the Holy Sacraments of the Orthodox Church and “stepping a foot” in all properties owned and operated by the parish of Corona.
In addition, on Sunday March 20, 2005, following a complain by the new Corona priest, Fr Nicholas Kouvaris, Police Officers arrested one of the punished members, Mr Demetrios Kakavas. The arrest has taken place inside a hospital that Mr Kakavas visited for medical examinations, followed an alleged abusive behavior by one of the paid security guards.
The Police officers were executing a complain made by Fr Kouvaris, who accused Mr Kakavas for:
Mrs Constant has also signed another affidavit as “secretary of the Philoptochos Sisterhood of Corona”, accusing the non recognized president Vassilios Livanos of refusing to give the keys of the parish center for a Philoptochos meeting.
After spending a night in jail, Mr Kakavas was released. He is to appear in Court on April 27.
In his deposition, Fr Kouvaris claims that Mr Kakavas “ran up to the alter and held Phronia Constant, a church member, up against the wall … The defendant’s actions caused Fr Kouvaris to stop said proceedings”.
Both Mr Kakavas and other parishioners, present at the service, deny the accusations as untrue.
Lawyers from White & Case law firm representing Archdiocese, showed up in State Court on Wednesday, presenting many pages of documents and seeking a temporary order. The documents contain the decisions of the “Spiritual Court”, decisions of Archbishop Demetrios stripping Livanos of his presidency and appointing a new council, and letters exchanged between Chancellor Bishop Savvas of Troas and the non recognized parish council.
There is also a deposition by Fr Kouvaris, claiming that the members refused to give him the keys, and that they have locked him and parishioners out of the church.
Both Mr Livanos and other parish council members characterized these allegations untrue.
“We have offered him the keys in many occasions, even in front of police officers, but he has refused to accept them”, Mr Livanos told GreekNews.
A request made by GreekNews to have Archdiocese’s views on the issue, was unanswered.
On March 24, Justice Rosegarten issued a temporary order, prohibiting the defendants from
Late at night some of the members received their summonses to appear in front of the Court.
“They woke us up in the middle of the night, knocking on our doors to serve us with the summonses in front of our children”, one of the accused members complained.
Using the order, paid guards were sent by the Archdiocese try to obtain the keys and take over the parish offices, but the police officers that arrived at the scene refused. An hour later a new amended order was obtained, prohibiting the members from entering the parish grounds. The accused members left the grounds peacefully. The guards locked the officers and left, removing some of the records.
The defendants will appear in front of Justice Rosengarten on April 6, at 9:30 am.
Although the order allows the participation of the members in scheduled church services, they have decided not to take part, in fear of provocations by the security guards, or fr Kouvaris sympathizers.
Mr Livanos spoke to GreekNews expressing disappointment and deep sorrow “for the inhumane message sent by the Archdiocese, in a day Hellenism celebrates its National Independence and the use of private guards, police officers and “consultants”. We were kicked out of the community we served for many years, offering our love and labors in order see it moving ahead and keep the school open”.
The atmosphere in the community is very grave and some of the defendants have received abusive threats. A woman called GreekNews and using abusing language has threaten “to cut the head” of one the defendants. The same woman has also left a voice message to the same person, using very graphic and provocative language and threats.
According to very reliable information, a wealthy member of Leadership 100, from a southern state, has offered to pay for all legal expenses of Archdiocese for the Corona case.
Parishioners of a church located in the New York area told GreekNews of problems they have with their priest and that they fear Archdiocese is prepared to create a situation resembling Corona.
The parishioners alleged that at some time before Christmas, their priest who was teaching Religious Education at the Day School gave 8graders as homework to search in the internet for the Church’s position on Transsexuals and Homosexuals. Something, they say, could easily send them to Porno sites and endanger their welfare.
They reported the priest to the Scholl Principal who relieved him of his teaching duties, while they file a complain with the Chancellor’s Office, asking for the removal of the priest from their parish.
According to the parishioners, Bishop Savvas promised them to transfer the priest after the Christmas Holidays, but his promise is still unfulfilled.
At the same time, Archdiocese decided to increase their stewardship, from the 100 dollars a week they have agreed to, to the amount of 1,500 hundred dollars monthly. Pending their payment, the Chancellor’s office has not recognized yet the newly elected Parish Council.
A high rank Archdiocesan administrator, replying to our information told GreekNews:
“The is a married man and the father of two young children whose sin in this respect was one of naivety and not malice I wonder if you have seen the vile and abusive letters Fr …. has received from these good Christian parents? I wonder if the children of the parents who brought this to your attention own any CDs by Eminem or Christina Aguilera, or watch The O.C. or The Real World or Will & Grace.
I wonder if you know or care that this priest is the son of a priest who passed away a few short weeks ago, after having suffered greatly for the last sixteen years of his life; that his son was recently diagnosed as …. (he mentions a non lethal illness) and that his wife, who is the only child of a highly respected priest in this area, has also had to deal with serious health issues these past few weeks?”
Parishioner asked to comment on his reply (we didn’t mention his name) replied “that as in Corona, we see the same policy of double standards in dealing with clergy and laity”.
They have also said that the administrator’s comments is a show of “union type of solidarity among priests”, while at the same time it shows lack of concern for their children’s welfare”.