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GOA autonomy debate goes public

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    ... Orthodox Christian News Service, Inc. ... GOA autonomy debate goes public as Bartholomew, U.S. Church leaders, air conflicting views By Stephen P.
    Message 1 of 1 , May 2, 2001
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      2001.05.02 OCNS:
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      Orthodox Christian News Service, Inc.
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      GOA autonomy debate goes public as Bartholomew, U.S. Church leaders, air
      conflicting views

      By Stephen P. Angelides
      Orthodox Christian News Service

      April 23, 2001 (OCNS) ­ The ongoing debate over autonomy of the Greek
      Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of
      Constantinople went public last week as Patriarch Bartholomew and leaders
      of the U.S. Church publicly aired their conflicting views on the issue.

      Bartholomew aired his views against GOA autonomy in a television interview
      broadcast in Greece on Holy Tuesday evening. A parade of speakers aired
      their views in favor of autonomy at the GOA Archdiocesan Council meeting
      last Friday in Boston.

      Bartholomew told Greece¹s MEGA television that autonomy would be
      ³disastrous for the Archdiocese,² and ³the Ecumenical Patriarchate will
      also be weakened if it lost the Archdiocese of America.² This according to
      excerpts of the interview quoted in last weekend¹s National Herald. The
      Herald also quoted Bartholomew as saying that ³there are only a few who
      want the autonomous (administrative status) of the Archdiocese².

      The speakers in favor of autonomy at last week¹s GOA Archdiocesan Council
      meeting included about a dozen members of the GOA hierarchy, clergy, and laity.

      The first speaker was Archbishop Demetrios. He gave a detailed introduction
      to the discussion, including the history of the meetings of the GOA Charter
      Committee and how the Ecumenical Patriarchate reacted to the proposed
      charter presented by that committee.

      Despite the Eumenical Patriarchate¹s flat-out rejection of the proposed GOA
      autonomy charter, Demetrios, in his typical fashion, tried to put a
      positive spin on the matter. According to Orthodox News sources, Demetrios
      stated that ³nothing has been ruled out² in the ongoing discussions about
      the charter between the GOA and the Ecumenical Patriachate. GOA
      representatives are scheduled to visit the Phanar again this May for
      another round of those discussions.

      Other speakers in favor of autonomy at the GOA Archdiocesan Council meeting
      included Fr. Alkiviadis Calivas of Holy Cross Theological Seminary. He gave
      what observers described as an eloquent speech in favor of autonomy, which
      received an ovation from the council members.

      Another speaker was Dr. John Collis, a neurosurgeon from Cleveland, who is
      a member of the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council. Collis
      told the council that, in contrast to Bartholomew¹s view that there are
      ³only a few² members of the U.S. Church in favor of autonomy, he believes
      that ³virtually everyone² in the U.S. Church supports the proposal for GOA
      autonomy.

      Almost all of the speakers at the GOA Archdiocesan Council meeting spoke in
      favor of autonomy, the proposed charter, the Charter Committee, and the GOA
      Synod, which has backed the autonomy proposal. Several speakers praised the
      Synod for standing firmly behind the autonomy proposal, despite the
      Phanar¹s stated rejection of it.

      One speaker at the GOA Archdiocesan Council meeting, Tom Dallas, a layman
      from Chicago, sounded a note of caution about the autonomy proposal. He
      expressed concern that nothing be done to harm the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

      The discussion at last week¹s GOA Archdiocesan Council meeting was the
      first time the charter issue has been officially discussed by clergy and
      lay representatives at a national GOA meeting. Demetrios succeeded in
      keeping the issue off the agenda of last year¹s GOA Clergy-Laity Congress,
      asking those present to ³trust me, it¹s a good charter.² Demetrios put the
      issue on the agenda of last week¹s Archdiocesan Council meeting at the
      request of the council¹s Executive Committee.

      Although the last charter granted to the GOA by the Ecumenical Patriarchate
      in 1977 requires charter amendments to be adopted by the Clergy-Laity
      Congress, the Congress itself has not voted on the new proposed charter.
      The proposal rejected by the Ecumenical Patriarchate came from the GOA
      Charter Committee, backed by the GOA Synod, and was approved by a special
      committee of clergy and lay representatives of the GOA dioceses.

      Although the members of those groups have seen the official text of the
      proposed charter, Demetrios so far has resisted releasing it publicly.
      However, the text was leaked to the Greek-American newspaper, the National
      Herald, which published it last year.

      Because the charter has not been officially released, clergy-laity groups
      at the diocese and parish levels so far have not had the opportunity to
      vote on it. However, the National Herald recently reported that efforts are
      underway to place the charter on the agendas of some parish assemblies. No
      specific parishes were named by the paper, and Orthodox News has not
      learned of any.

      The only organized lay group that has spoken out about the proposed
      charter, the Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL), has not taken a substantive
      position on the matter. Instead, it has taken a procedural position that
      the proposed charter should be put to a vote of the GOA Clergy-Laity
      Congress. The next meeting of the Clergy-Laity Congress is scheduled for
      July 2002 in Los Angeles.

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      Copyright © 1999, 2000 Orthodox Christian News Service, Inc.
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