A strong letter from the Archdiocesan Council to the Ecumenical Patriarch. The Phanar keeps distance from the actions of the Metropolitan of Iconium.
New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
The Ecumenical Patriarchate tried last week to ease the tensions that rose after a letter sent by Metropolitan Theoliptos of Iconium – a young protégé of Patriarch Bartholomew – to the Greek American daily “The National Herald”, accusing Demetrios in the case of the two orphan children from Congo, that could not be accepted to the St Basil’s Academy due to immigration problems.
A statement issued by the Secretariat of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate says “the letter by his Eminence Metropolitan of Iconium Theoliptos to the National Herald was his personal decision and initiative and was written neither with the knowledge of Mother Church, nor it echoes Its views.”
The communiqué reassures of the appreciation and love of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Archbishop Demetrios, also expressed in numerous occasions during the recent U.S. Patriarchal visit, by his All Holiness himself.
The full text is as following:
It is announced that the letter written by His Eminence Metropolitan Theoleptos of Iconium to the newspaper in America, The National Herald, was a result of the author’s own personal decision and initiative. This letter was sent without the knowledge of the Mother Church and its content does not reflect the views held by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The sentiments of appreciation and love of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios were expressed by His All Holiness repeatedly during his official visit to the United States this past Fall also in honor of the conclusion of His Eminence’s 10th year of fruitful ministry to the Archdiocese of America.
At the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the 18th of January 2010
From the Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod”
Leading hierarchs and laymen of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America are not considering the letter satisfactory. They are asking the Ecumenical Patriarch to reprimand Metropolitan Theoliptos, who is appointed president of the corporation of the Holy Patriarchal Monastery of St Irene Chrysovalantou in America.
They are accusing Theoliptos for trying to ignite an ecclesiastical crisis in America, as well as showing disrespect for the Greek Orthodox Church in America and its Primate Archbishop Demetrios.
In his letter, without a previous communication with the Archdiocese to confirm the facts of the case, Metropolitan Theoliptan sent in a letter published to the National Herald:
“I became sorrowful and I am ashamed to be a hierarch of the Orthodox Church. I am asking: Was the conscience of Archbishop Demetrios, who had received the letter from the orphans’ uncle, at peace during the Holy Days of God’s Epiphany and New Year? Was he able to celebrate as a high priest the sacred days without any problem of conscience? How could he have sent that reply to the uncle of those two children, and further mock them by sending wishes for a solution? Truly, where are we going? Where has our wretched Orthodox Church been led? Where has the Church been led by the conscienceless shepherds? How can we want the faithful to believe us and to follow us when we do not practice what we preach? I felt very sorry for Archbishop Demetrios, as he disappointed me one more time.
Which is our mission in the world? Just to organize dinners and events to celebrate our tenth anniversary on the Throne of the Holy Archdiocese of America, or to speak and preach about loving and helping our suffering fellow man, but not to do anything in reality?”
THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Just three days prior to Holy Synod statement in Phanar, the members of the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council in a letter to the Patriarch and the Members of the Holy Synod express their “profound distress and disgust over the recent embarrassing letter” and ask them to reprimand Metropolitan Theoliptos.
AHEPA, the leading Greek American organization also has also sent a letter to the Patriarchate.
The letter of the Executive Committee, dated January 15, 2010, says the following:
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
And the Most Reverend Members of the
Holy and Sacred Synod, Phanar
Your All Holiness,
We, the undersigned members of the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan
Council, on behalf of all the members of the Archdiocesan Council of the largest Eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, convey to Your All Holiness and the Holy and Sacred Synod our profound distress and disgust over the recent embarrassing letter of Metropolitan Theoleptos of Iconium to the newspaper, The National Herald. It is unconscionable that any Hierarch would attack the good name and reputation of another Hierarch in the press, but when the Metropolitan of Iconium, without any regard to the record or to facts, calls into question the integrity and indeed humanity of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, the insult goes well beyond the person of the Archbishop and the Metropolitans of the local Eparchial Synod. The insult goes to the heart of every Greek Orthodox Christian of this Archdiocese, clergy and laity alike.
Your All Holiness, if the Metropolitan of Iconium was so concerned over the two orphaned children, why did he not call the Archbishop and learn what the facts were?
Clearly, his intent was both malicious and premeditated. How is this Metropolitan allowed to write such a letter directly to a newspaper? Who authorized him to do so?
Who urged him to do so? He, or others who prompted him, found an occasion to attack our Archbishop, and in doing so, he has attacked us all. Your All Holiness, with all due respect, we must ask if the Ecumenical Patriarchate itself can tolerate such a violation of the good order of the Church?
Given the history of the peaceful and prosperous ministry of Archbishop Demetrios, and indeed your recognition of his accomplishments during your recent visit to America, a visit in part to honor the tenth anniversary of his enthronement, it is not possible that this vilification of the Archbishop can go without severe consequences. As those entrusted with representing the interests of the lay leadership of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, we are compelled to request from Your All Holiness that this Metropolitan must be disciplined in a substantive way and must apologize in public to the Archbishop. We do not make this request as an invasive demand on the Mother Church, but to assist the Mother Church in turning back a rising tide of negative feeling among both the clergy and the laity that has resulted directly from this outrageous and scandalous letter.
Therefore, as responsible and devoted leaders of this Eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the United States, we respectfully ask that Your All Holiness move with all due speed to put an end to this disgraceful situation. We are confident that you will do so, and thereby demonstrate to the clergy and faithful, who are appalled by this violation of ecclesiastical custom and decorum, that their devotion to their Archbishop is valued and held in honor by the Church and by the world.
With deepest respects,
Michael Jaharis, Vice Chairman
Nicholas Bouras, Treasurer
Catherine Bouffides Walsh, Secretary
Dr. Elenie Huszagh
Emanuel G. Demos, Legal Counsel