Published by The
National Herald, May 28, 2004
The Church crisis
It looks as though this latest chapter in the crisis
between the Church of Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate is coming to
a close. This alone is great news, provided that a solution is indeed
found and it solves the underlying issues that gave rise to the problems
in the first place.
It seems likely that an agreement will be reached-likely, but not
definite. And that is because, even though the Archbishop of Athens and
Greece seems willing to reach an agreement, we know from the past that
His All Holiness can be unpredictable.
As far as the second point goes, it is more than certain that the
agreement put in place by representatives of the government of Greece
does not solve the issue dividing the two churches in a definite way. On
the contrary, it defers them to the future.
This is not surprising. In general, the issues affecting the Patriarchate
of Constantinople are so difficult that nobody wants to take on the
responsibility of proposing a lasting solution. Thus, the problems
The scandal surrounding the Corona church, and the ensuing protest
outside the headquarters of our Archdiocese in New York, was a scene from
the turbulent past. Something we thought was long gone, buried in the
annals of the history of our community.
Those who participated in the demonstration on a Monday morning did not
number in the hundreds or thousands. But there were enough parishioners
there to make a point: They are angry and disappointed with the way they
have been treated; They believe emphatically that laypeople have a say in
the governance of our church and that the Archdiocese' 'we do not like
you, you are out, change the locks,' attitude is unacceptable and
And so, it came down to taking it to the streets, taking it
straight to the doorstep where the issue belongs: Our
The demonstrations of the past against the Archdiocese were by adults
over the usual political issues. This one differs markedly from the ones
in the past in that the issue was not political and that most of the
demonstrators were students who feared their school would be closed due
to the divisions in their community.
The Chancellor of the Archdiocese refused to meet with them, or even
receive their petition. Instead, he issued a statement attacking
them for turning the issue into one of the future of the
But it is a valid point. The school is already on shaky ground. For when
the community is divided, as this one is, when members go somewhere else
for their spiritual needs, when others refuse to contribute funds to the
community until this issue is resolved-to their satisfaction-the end
result will be that, yes, the school will be affected.
We understand that one of the participants in the conflict
personally paid teachers' salaries for two months.
Finally, the committee organizing the demonstration was able to meet with
Father Alex Karloutsos, who promised to talk to his Eminence-who is in
Constantinople-to see if a solution can be found.
Although it is not the job of Fr. Karloutsos to handle this, it
seems to us that he will be able to come up with a solution, so the
community can get back on track and the Archdiocese can avoid a court