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  • byakimov@csc.com.au
    Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Distributes Misinformation DETROIT, August 8, 2003 (OCL) -- Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL), today challenged the Greek
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2003
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      Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Distributes Misinformation


      DETROIT, August 8, 2003 (OCL) -- Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL), today
      challenged the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America to stop the
      distribution of misinformation concerning the proposed new 2003 Charter
      for the church in the United States.  The Archdiocese distributed a set of
      questions and answers regarding the proposed 2003 Charter that is rife
      with misstatements and errors of omission, according to OCL experts who
      reviewed the document.


      Orthodox Christian Laity is an organization of Eastern Orthodox lay
      leaders and clergy founded in 1987 for the purpose of uniting the
      ethnically fragmented Orthodox Church and supporting the legitimate role
      of the clergy and laity in church governance. It is in this latter area
      that OCL is asking the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese to paint a complete and
      honest picture of the proposed Charter to parishioners of the Orthodox
      faith under its jurisdiction.


      The proposed 2003 Charter was prepared by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
      in Istanbul, Turkey, and is substantially a duplicate of the draft Charter
      submitted for approval to the 2002 Clergy-Laity Congress, the church's
      governing body in the United States. The Charter was overwhelmingly
      rejected by the more than 800 clergy and laity delegates to that Congress
      in July 2002 when some 30 amendments were passed to make the proposed
      charter acceptable. The Patriarchate disregarded those amendments of the
      delegates of the 2002 Congress, which is the legislative body of the
      Archdiocese, and has moved to impose its unacceptable Charter on the
      Church.


      In effect, the unacceptable proposed 2003 charter would eliminate most of
      the rights of the laity and the clergy to participate in the governance of
      the Archdiocese, which have been in effect for more than 80 years. It
      would make the Archdiocese more authoritarian which most Greek Orthodox
      faithful oppose.


      The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in the United States has had four charters
      since it was founded in 1922.  Those were in 1922, 1927, 1931 and 1977
      each of which was approved by a Clergy-Laity Congress. The most recent
      Charter, the one approved in Detroit by the Clergy-Laity Congress in 1978
      is still binding on the church.   This charter clearly outlines how
      revisions are to be made.  The 1977 Charter states that revisions must be
      approved by a Clergy-Laity Congress. The illegal proposed 2003 Charter,
      trying to be imposed by the Patriarchate and being implemented by the
      Archdiocese, has not been approved by a Congress. The next Clergy-Laity
      Congress is scheduled to be held in New York July of 2004 and OCL has been
      insisting that the Charter be the first item on the agenda with enough
      time for a full discussion and a vote by secret ballot.


      That discussion is already taking place in Greek Orthodox parishes across
      the country. The first official steps were taken on June 22, 2003 by the
      Sts. Constantine and Helen Greek  Orthodox Cathedral in Cleveland, Ohio
      when that parish's general assembly overwhelmingly passed a resolution
      rejecting the 2003 Charter imposed by the  Patriarchate.  The parish
      assembly of St. Mary's Greek Orthodox Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota
      passed a similar resolution on August 3, 2003.   Other parishes are
      discussing similar actions.


      In the questions and answers distributed by the Greek Orthodox
      Archdiocese, which is located in New York, it is stated that, "The Charter
      enhances the vital role of the laity in several ways." That assertion is
      incorrect and misleading. A comparison of the 1977 Charter and the 2003
      Charter (the new one being imposed by the Patriarchate) shows how lay and
      clergy participation in Archdiocesan governance is being reduced
      drastically.


      For example, under the 1977 Charter, designation of Dioceses, their Sees
      and boundaries is a function of the Archdiocesan Council and subject to
      Patriarchal approval. The Archdiocesan Council is comprised of the
      hierarchs, clergy and laity. Under the 2003 Charter, that responsibility
      is a function only of the Eparchial Synod, which is  composed of the
      hierarchs of the American sees, with the Archbishop presiding as chairman.
      The Archdiocesan Council would now have only a consultative voice but no
      participation in the decision. Accordingly, notwithstanding the fact that
      these decisions affect the life, well-being, unity, uniform administration
      and financial stability of the Archdiocese of the United States, the laity
      and clergy will no longer participate in them.


      Also, the proposed 2003 Charter renders the deliberations and decisions of
      the Clergy-Laity Congress in most matters to the status of merely
      consultative and advisory, another way of easing out participation of the
      laity and clergy in the decision making of church issues.


      (For a full comparison of the 1977 and 2003 Charters, go to www.ocl.org.)
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