The Church crisis
- 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 linger.
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 ineffective.
And so, it came down to taking it to the streets, taking it straight to the doorstep where the issue belongs: Our Archdiocese.
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 school.
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 battle.