Boston, MA.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
Photos: Dimitrios Panagos
Elder Metropolitan Apostolos of Derkoi, who is representing the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the 44th Clergy Laity Congress of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, has chosen the reception of the Order of the Archons of St Andrew to express the displeasure of his All Holiness for statements made at the graduation ceremony of the Seminary and the fact there was no immediate answer by the Archbishop and other hierarchs present.“It is extremely sad that imprudent and disrespectful voices are heard that call for a distancing from the martyric Mother Church, such as that which recently transpired during the Graduation Ceremony of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. Even more disheartening is the fact that the disrespectful and blasphemous mouth was not immediately called to good order by the powers that bear the primary ecclesiastical responsibility here”.
Metropolitan Apostolos praised the Commander of the Archons Dr. Anthony Limberakis for being the first to hasten with a public statement “to denounce the disrespectful words uttered against the Mother Church and its martyric guardians, as well as to provide a bright spot of noble dedication to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. For this reason, you and the entire fine body of the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle have our gratitude and appreciation, as well as my personal praise and that of the Mother Church.”
The Metropolitan’s remarks were a history lesson of the role the Ecumenical Patriarchate played for the Greeks, following the fall of Constantinople, as well as the importance for the Orthodox Churches to remain under its wings.
“Following the second fall of Constantinople and the demise of the empire, the Ecumenical Patriarchate became a national, cultural and social ark of the Genos. It was not an emperor, but a Patriarch who would shoulder the cross and additional responsibility of the Ethnarchy. In this manner, the City never ceased to be the Queen of Cities, and still retains that title today in a new context—one that is more holy, and yet, more painful, and still characterized by sacrifice and the Cross that it bears. The Patriarch of Constantinople wore the imperial sakkos as a vestment, as well as the imperial crown that became a miter on his venerable head. He did not have a scepter, but rather, the imperial Patriarchal staff upon which all of the destitute Genos would come to rest. Archons were no longer in existence, but a new archonship was created around the Ethnarch-Patriarch—a new aristocracy of the Faith that humbly preserved and revealed the nobility of our Genos. Many of them would later reach high ranks in the Ottoman Empire and contribute invaluable services to the Genos and its Church, sometimes even by sacrificing their own lives.”.
Metropolitan Apostolos reminded the audience that “the martyric Phanar, the seat of Constantinople, New Rome, always remains the saving Ark of all that is sacred and holy in Orthodoxy and Hellenism.”
And he warned that “all those who have naively and ungratefully severed themselves from it, inherited the breadth of dismal temptations, ecclesiastical problems, and nationalistic issues, and continue to do so. Indeed, separation from the body of the Mother Church has proved to be a disastrous, unique act of foolishness. Disagreement and defection are not pleasing to God. Unity that is not only formal, canonical and administrative, but foremost spiritual and heartfelt, is pleasing to God. This brings His blessing and the richness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit!”
He also reminded everyone that from its beginning, the Archdiocese of America has been recognized as a creation of the Mother Church of Constantinople—“bone of its bones and flesh of its flesh!”
“It is not merely one of its eparchies, but an offspring and piece of its soul, one that richly tastes the Church’s motherly love, care and compassion!”
The representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch suggested that “when the Archbishop of America stands publically in the presence of authorities of the United States or its President, they see behind the Archbishop an ancient yet living Spiritual Institution; one that holds not only primacy of honor, but also the responsibility for 300 million faithful, who in return analogously consider, adhere to and honor this aforementioned institution!”
Introducing Metropolitan of Derkoi, Commander Limberakis reminded him when they first met at the School in Halki and in the presence of the U.S. Ambassador, the Ecumenical Patriarch has said “in Turkey I feel like a second class citizen”.
Dr. Limberakis also praised Archbishop Demetrios for bringing peace to the Archdiocese.
Archbishop Demetrios in his remarks thanked the Metropolitan of Derkoi for his comments.
“It’s always a great thing to speak about our Ecumenical Patriarchate and our Ecumenical Patriarch”.
He called a “nice coincidence” that fact that the gathering is taking place on the 4th of July.
“This is a day of celebrating freedom and here we are fighting for the religious freedom of our Ecumenical Patriarchate. We are part of a much more general fight for freedom for anyone who lives under any conditions of oppression and doesn’t enjoy what we enjoy as American citizens.”.
In concluding he stressed the need to intensify our efforts in order to be able at some point to see the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the other religious minorities to enjoy the full religious freedom they deserve.
Greetings were also offered by Metropolitan of Boston Methodios and Metropolitan of Silybria Maximos.