September 18, 2014

Archbishop Demetrios on the Way Out?

HT: St. Andrew House Orthodox Discussion Forum

Theodore Kalmoukos

His Emminence Abp. Demetrios blessing a congregation

BOSTON- At 83 years old and beleaguered by a raft of questions about his ability to keep leading, Archbishop Demetrios may leave his position at the Archbishopric Throne of America, it emerged after intense discussions at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, where he traveled unannounced, as well as among prominent Greek-American leaders who want him retained. The National Herald was unable to reach him at press time.

Those familiar with the issue attribute the possible development to his age the constant accumulation of various unresolved problems under his tenure recently.

Sources said it was believed at the Patriarchate that these questions have stagnated the ecclesial life of the Archdiocese of America. TNH also has learned that a group of prominent Greek Americans do not agree with the possibility of Archbishop Demetrios leaving his post and threatened to stop all financial and other support to the Ecumenical Patriarchate if he does not stay.

The speculation about a possible exodus were re-enforced after his meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou and the Deputy Minister of State Demetris Droutsas in Athens on April 27. The Archbishop’s statement to The National Herald after the meeting that he discussed “issues that concern him” intensified even more the reports his departure is being arranged, especially after his visit to Constantinople.

The discussion became more intense after the last visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to the United States for an ecological symposium about the environment and the cleaning of the Mississippi river which coincided with the Archbishop’s 10 year anniversary as head of the church in America. TNH has learned that despite Bartholomew’s public praise and congratulatory remarks about the Archbishop, upon his return to the Phanar, the Patriarch said that “We have problems in America.” Senior Metropolitan Athanasios of Chalcedon enforced the Patriarch’s view as well. Metropolitan Athanasios was a member of the Patriarchal entourage at the US visit.

Patriarchal officials were said to have blamed Archbishop Demetrios with a “lack of administrative competency” and “inability” to control the “honorary Metropolitans” although he has jurisdiction over the Archdiocese of America and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Metropolitans hold honorary status, a strange combination of auxiliary Bishops and titular Metropolitans while Archbishop Demetrios is commemorated as “shepherd” at the Liturgy when visiting the local Metropolitses.

Savas the Successor?

Although Archbishop Demetrios did not discuss the issue of his possible departure, TNH also learned that previously, and in recent days and at Patriarchate during his visit, he indicated that he wanted Bishop Savas of Troas, his former Chancellor, to be his successor saying that “He is capable and his confidant and he will continue his work.” The reason that Archbishop Demetrios relieved Bishop Savas from his duties as Chancellor was reportedly to protect him as Savas was said to be creating constant problems with various parishes and their councils.

But Patriarch Bartholomew, on the suggestion of Rev. Alex Karloutsos, seemed to favor Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, a graduate of Holy Cross Theological School in Boston, to be the successor. The Patriarch has assigned the role of “Secretary of State” of the Phanar to Metropolitan Emmanuel ,sending him to various assignments everywhere in the world and constantly projecting him. He was also a member of Bartholomew’s entourage during his last visit to the US.

Metropolitan Emmanuel, knowing the huge responsibility of the Archbishopric Throne of America, said he didn’t want the job. Rev. Karloutsos, who appears and acts as some type of an “unofficial Archbishop” in America because of his nearness with Patriarch Bartholomew, has taken on the task to convince Metropolitan Emmanuel to accept it. The current government of Greece also reportedly favors Metropolitan Emmanuel’s candidacy. Karloutsos was also instrumental in the election of the former Archbishop Spyridon.

The reason that Archbishop Demetrios traveled to the Ecumenical patriarchate was primarily to discuss with Patriarch Bartholomew and Patriarch Theofilos of Jerusalem the issue of the Orthodox Palestinian parishes of the US, especially in the California area, which were turned over to the Archdiocese by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and will accept no other leader. Patriarch Bartholomew discussed with Archbishop Demetrios various issues of the Archdiocese including the upcoming Synaxis of all the canonical Bishops in America and Canada on May 26. Patriarch Bartholomew appears to be angry with Archbishop Demetrio’s decision to include the OCA (former Russian Metropolia,) to which the Patriarchate of Moscow gave autocephalous ecclesiastical status which is not recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate despite the clear directive of Patriarch Bartholomew not to include them. Archbishop Demetrios claims it was included by mistake, but Fr. Mark Arey, Director of Interchurch Relations, gave a different explanation.

There are hierarchs at the Phanar who fear that such a Synaxis convened with the knowledge if not the directive of the Patriarchate, could get out of control and develop into some type of an ecclesiastical coup for the creation of an American Orthodox Autocephalous Church, similar to that attempted by the late Archbishop Iakovos at the Ligonier on Pennsylvania in 1994 which became the beginning of the end of his Archbishopric tenure.

Source: The National Herald

Comments

  1. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Where to begin? The apparent acts of stunning bad faith in setting up the Episcopal Assembly? The intention that the OCA would be denied a vote even though we were told that they would have one? The threat of economic boycott of the Phanar? The idiosyncratic ranks of the so-called metropolitans in the GOA (something I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion), the recalcitrance of the Palestinian parishes who are refusing to abandon their ancient patriarchate? Where to begin indeed. Lord have mercy.

  2. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Harry Coin says:

    This situation– more layers than a half-fermented Texas sized onion.

    Be sure to read the entire article using the link.

  3. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    Apropos metaphor, Harry. Anyway you slice this onion though, it still stinks.

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    Scott Pennington says:

    It’s actually so sad and pathetic it’s funny. One thing should be utterly crystal clear from this story, if it in fact reflects reality:

    There was never any remote intention in the Phanar of the EA’s developing into synods of local churches. In fact, to prevent such a development was the intention all along.

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    Andrew says:

    Many Greek Orthodox in America will be more than convinced of the need for a United American Autocephalous Church if the Phanar decides to forcibly remove Demetrios and install Archbishop Spyridon 2.0 in America.

    How do you say pass the popcorn in Greek?

  6. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    It’s good to know that the support of current government of Greece is an important consideration in the choice of an American archbishop. It would be a shame if an American Church didn’t have the interference of a foreign government.

    • Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
      George Michalopulos says:

      David, especially a government and reliable as Greece is. From now on, I resolve to label all foreign-controlled/dominated/affiliated jurisdictions in North America as “colonial outposts” and their bishops as “satraps.”

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      Dean Calvert says:

      David,

      Most GOA members I know (I grew up in the GOA) become very agitated when you tell them that “no episcopal election of any sort occurs in this country in the GOA.”

      Unfortunately, that is the truth…and this is the result.

      May God bless Abp Demetrios. Despite my many disagreements with him, I think he is basically a kind man, who probably never wanted to be archbishop to begin with.

      God help them. Maybe, just maybe, it will begin to dawn on them that a united American Church, i.e. locally elected bishops, sitting in synod, is in ALL of our best interests.

      It’s also our ONLY hope.

      Kyrie Eleison!

      Dean

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      Isa Almisry says:

      It would be a shame if an American Church didn’t have the interference of a foreign government

      LOL. Nice way to put it. All this blathering about how Americans are immature (may be true, but here besides the point, especially with the dementia coming with senility in the Phanar) and need to be under the EP blah blah blah….what guidance do we need from the Greek government (not even the Church of Greece)?

      Ah, but we might be seeing the beginning of the end. I was just reflecting yesterday, on how with the collapse of the Greek state, the CofG will be bereft of Caesar as much as the Phanar is of the Sultan. Russia is free, Romania well outnumbers Greece and is also in the EU now. Serbia, if it can stop competing with Greece in killing its children, can follow up on the impressive send off it gave to Pat. Pavle of blessed memory.

      Hopefully, the Episcopal Assembly will get out of control fast. I asked Met. Jonah about his acceptance of Chambesy, which he is not bound as he wasn’t asked to sign. His Beatitude specifically refered to Archb. Demetrios’ leadership as a reason for the OCA being on board. Wonder what happens now….

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        Scott Pennington says:

        Isa,

        I am hopefull that the Slavs, increasingly influenced by two factors, will roll back the culture of abortion. Under communism, abortion was rampant. It remains so through momentum and the destruction of the Christian idea of the family. So hopefully the Church will be active in the fight.

        However, there is another consideration which is at play in Russia (itself with a high abortion rate) and, I assume, in other Eastern European countries. Russia has been in a population decline for years. Some estimate that by the middle of the century the population of the Russian Federation will fall from 142 million to 120 million or less. At the same time, the population of Muslim minorities is not in decline. Putin announced recently that 2009 was the first year in which the population of the Federation did not decline. He did not state who it was that was responsible for this, Russians or Muslims.

        This is alarming to many Russians. I have heard and read that it is increasingly common to hear Russian doctors advocate against abortion at facilities that provide abortions because of this population problem.

        As Europe becomes more Muslim, and as Russia becomes less Russian, hopefully this will act as a catalyst to wake up the authorities toward the need for higher rates of reprodution and thus the suppression of the culture of abortion.

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          Chris says:

          I am not sure about Greece, but there is a big anti-abortion movement in Serbia and Macedonia bot EU aspirants. Unfortunately, a lot of the Soros-funded NGOs also have strong footholds in these nation and are doing everything to equate pro-abortion and homosexual marriage as a “European Value.” So far these NGOs have been unsuccessful in pressuring Macedonia to change her law of descrimination to include protection for same-sex marriage and there has been some success in both Serbia and Macedonia on lowering abortions.

          Greece is a hot mess. I feel for them eventhough they did virtually nothing to help their economic cause over the years.

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    Fr. Peter says:

    What I find interesting is they are looking to France for his replacement. So no one here can rule America? When will we stop going home for bishops and raise up our own.

    Lord Have Mercy!

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      Isa Almisry says:

      Never, as long as the Phanar has any say in it.

      Is this the same metropolitan that there was IIRC, in France growing problems with his autocratic style in running the French version of SCOBA, which if IIRC, DOES (unlike the SCOBA Constitution here, which states it rotates) state that the chairman is the Phanar’s representative ex officio?

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Fr Peter, we never will until the colonial ecclesial presences implanted here for economic gain cut their ties and petition to join the local Church that actually does elect its own bishops.

  8. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Fr. Peter Dubinin says:

    And here you have it – “The current government of Greece also reportedly favors Metropolitan Emmanuel’s candidacy.” Wow! Please explain to me how in any way, shape or form, the government of Greece should have any kind of say, opinion, influence, decision in whom the GOA places at the leadership of their feifdom in USA. The answer I think is obvious – the episcopal head of the GOA is considered to be head of a political action committee in behalf of the government of Greece under the guise of Church. The concern isn’t for the salvation of the faithful, but whether or not the interests of Greece have easy access to the government of the United States of America. Most PAC are looked upon with suspicion, but wrap them in the guise of religion with a very personable and genteel leader and you disarm everyone – “come on in and have a cup of coffee and talk about what concerns you; O, really, your Church supports our “progessive” initiatives and platform. Isn’t that wonderful. How can we help you?” I’m telling you what; if I didn’t see it with my own eyes, I would be hard pressed to believe it if someone were to tell me.

  9. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Isa Almisry says:

    Christ is risen!

    If Archb. Demetrios is stepping down, I have an idea for a replacement

    MET. JONAH.

  10. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Isa Almisry says:

    Christ is risen!

    There are hierarchs at the Phanar who fear that such a Synaxis convened with the knowledge if not the directive of the Patriarchate, could get out of control and develop into some type of an ecclesiastical coup for the creation of an American Orthodox Autocephalous Church, similar to that attempted by the late Archbishop Iakovos at the Ligonier on Pennsylvania in 1994 which became the beginning of the end of his Archbishopric tenure.

    GRANT THIS, O LORD!

  11. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    It appears that being a spiritual father is less of a prerequisite than being a smooth-talking Greek bachelor who looks good in black.

  12. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Andrew says:

    The whiz kids at the Phanar and 79th street seem believe that if your boat is flooded while at sea that one should drill holes in the floor to let the water out.

    Keep drilling! American Orthodoxy is Coming.

  13. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    George Michalopulos says:

    As a member of the OCL, I’ve held my fire for the past three weeks. I had certain misgivings that I wrote about several weeks ago about the most recent meeting in Houston in which Fr Mark Arey came to address us. In the interests of humility (and operating under a delusional hope), I asked that this report be kept under wraps. Perhaps the Episcopal Assembly would prove my misgivings wrong and its contents moot. Unfortunately, the wonder boys at 79th have again lived up to their modus operandi of “ready, fire, aim.”

    The Reader’s Digest version of events is basically that the Phanar and its minions in America were never, ever going to allow the Episcopal Assembly to lead to autocephaly and unity. It was all just a charade to fool the peasants in America for a few more generations since SCOBA could no lonber fulfill this function.

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      Dean Calvert says:

      Dear George,

      Re: “…the wonder boys at 79th have again lived up to their modus operandi of “ready, fire, aim.””

      I disagree. I think their modus operandi is still “What’s mine is mine, what’s yours is debatable.”

      Best Regards,
      Dean

      :)

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    Harry Coin says:

    In the end, perhaps this is about Turkey not wanting to give Archbishop Demetrios the due honor of presiding at the upcoming assembly. I think they’ve figured out that it will be a big PR event and so the various are scrambling to have ‘their guy’ ‘be seen’ running it instead of ‘wasting’ the ‘photo op’ on a person near retirement.

    You have to chuckle at some of the things in the article. Complaining about Archbishop Demetrios being 20 years older than a typical US retirement age– when he was already 10 years older when they gave him the job. Or the notion that the Metropolitans are ‘honoary, auxilliary’ etc on the basis that only when the archbishop is present do they commemorate him. Here in the regions near Chicago we hear of Bishop Demetrios of somewhere-with-no-people in Turkey commemorated even when he’s not around, then the Metropolitan in Chicago– happily this is often done in Greek so most people don’t understand and so can avoid being upset about it during services.

    I remember Fr. Arey’s missives from the Spyridon days when he was in charge of Communications. While he was given some fairly dubious water to carry, he seemed to like carrying it overmuch. Now he’s addressing the OCL, and OCL is giving money to the Archdiocese ‘for something’. I hope they got an accounting at least.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Harry, it’s money down the drain. There already is an “episcopal assembly” in North America. It has several canonically-ordained bishops serving on it. It’s called the OCA. Lord knows, it wasn’t perfect, but right now the Keystone Kops look like an elegant balet compared to the Bachelors of 79th St.

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        Harry Coin says:

        George,

        If only the OCL would have engaged doing what it took, privately, quietly to cause those who do not live according to their promises when accepting high office to leave those jobs. The leadership would always find some reason to avoid doing that. The OCL should have been firm about forcing high leadership to police its own ranks and also used its money to offer a gentle, quiet outplacement service for ‘unrecognized ordination errors’. There were many in the OCL leadership that just couldn’t stomach how hard that work would be, what it might mean to ‘their guy’ and so they published and educated and donated instead. Except under the visionary leadership of George Coupounas when OCL was an essential vast national speaking-tour educator regarding Spyridon.

        The point is without uncompromised, ‘unowned’ people in decision making positions, able to police their own ranks, no amount of ‘watchdogging’, whether ‘ocanews’ or ‘voithia’ or OCL or the various ‘congresses’ and ‘councils’ can do more than slow the rate of decay.

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      Isa Almisry says:

      You’re in Chicago?

      Last Sunday of Orthodoxy here we had a half dozen bishops for Chicago, and not everyone was there. How much more shepherding we could have if the shephards weren’t all fighting over flocks in the same pasture.

  15. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    Lord have mercy! Reading this article could make one ill. Sadly, it looks like the same thing is happening in South America as well – being taken over by EP efforts and no real intent on creating a unified, local church. Again, Lord have mercy!

  16. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Ryan Close says:

    If this is right, then the assemblies are simply a ploy to suppress global Orthodoxy under the leadership of the EP. Seems like the Orthodox Churches should call this what it is: heresy. There can be no canonical or theological justification for devious, backhanded, greedy foreign domination. All Orthodox Christians in America should call their bishops and remind them how important real church unity is. If OCA bishops are not allowed at the Assembly, then we will have to rely on the parishioners of the other jurisdictions who’s bishops will be attending. They should promise to protest or walk out if Archbishop Demitrios does not seem serious about unity but is only playing with us.

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      Isa Almisry says:

      I’m not sure Archb. Demetrios is the problem. I believe that it is his overlords.

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        George Michalopulos says:

        Isa, I’ve long ago come to the conclusion that it is not +Demetrios who is the problem. He’s a kindly, saintly man. Sure he’s made missteps (every March 25 for the past 2 years for example, but that’s small beer). The problem is more systemic. It’s the unwieldy coalition that makes up the GOA. We’re talking about “metropolitans” whose actual powers are vaguely defined, a synod in Istanbul that is only accountable to the Turkish gov’t, a secular elite of mega-wealthy men who like to be addressed by medieval titles, and a laity that is apathetic or scandalized. And that’s probably just a tip of the iceberg.

        I realize that the criticism of +Demetrios is not without its own peculiarities. TNR and the Phanar have a deeper agenda and it revolves around the concept of diaspora and ethnic exlucivity. Therefore they’re going to cherry-pick incidents that promote their narrative of GOA failure. Having said that, if we look at the contents of the metropolitan of Iconium’s letter vis-a-vis Orphangate and Kalmoukos’ articles in general, we can’t disclaim the basic fact that there has been a great stagnation in the GOA lo these plast 15 years. (At this point I would interject that this stagnation has not happened in the AOCNA, but last year was a giant step backward for them. It’s still too early to tell for the OCA but I’m hopeful with the ascencion of +Jonah to the episcopal see of Washington.)

        Anyway, the Greek maxim of “the fish rotting from the head” doesn’t apply if by “head” you mean the Archbishop. He simply isn’t the head. At best, he’s a figurehead placed in a position of pseudo-authority in order to disguise the Phanar’s attempts at actual control or at the very least to prevent another +Iakovos from arising. It’s possible that the Phanar overstepped its bounds and tried to take him out in order to minimize the success of the upcoming Episcopal Assembly. They certainly did undercut him severely, to the point where the GOA propagandists are having to put out fires.

        Anyway, it’s going to be interesting. Battle lines are being drawn: Old World patriarchates are not wanting the formation of a local synod taking place and they’re using the various diasporists within their eparchies to confound any such coalescence. We see this with the Palestinian “vicariate” of the GOA, the Arab and Greek revanchists in the AOCNA and GOA, the Romanian and Russian triumphalists, etc. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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          Greg says:

          RE … if we look at the contents of the metropolitan of Iconium’s letter vis-a-vis Orphangate…

          I had a kind of well-what-do-you-know-about-that moment as I read this statement. I realized that I have been learning about Orthodoxy for long enough to understand what this inside baseball remark is actually referring to.

          Ha! How about that! :)

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          Chris says:

          What are the chances of the AOCNA unity wit OCA with +Jonah as head?

  17. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top

    But if the EP is a heretic, what are the implications for all the Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches that are in communion with him and allow him to remain in heresy? At what point do they become heretical by their collusion?

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      Blessed memory of Elder Paisios (the Athonite) of Mount Athos:

      Unfortunately, in our days, there are many people who upset the mother Church. Of these, those that are educated have understood dogma with their minds and not with the spirit of the Holy Fathers. At the same time, those who are unlettered have grabbed hold of dogma with their teeth, which is why they grind their teeth when they speak about ecclesiastical topics. In this way, greater harm is caused by those in the Church than by those who battle it from without.

      That which is asked of every Orthodox person is to instill a “good uneasiness” into the heterodox,’ that they might understand that they are in delusion. This is so they will not falsely calm their conscience and thus be deprived in this life of the rich blessings of Orthodoxy and in the life to come of the even greater and eternal blessings of God.

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        George Michalopulos says:

        Ryan, according to this indictment (which IMHO is spirit-filled), our participation in the WCC/NCC axis has been nothing but a failure. Clearly we have not instilled in them a “good uneasiness.”

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          Eliot Ryan says:

          The Ecumenical Patriarchate is one of the founding members of World Council of Churches (from the Enthronement Address of the current Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew). WCC declared mission is the service of christian unity. What is the price for unity? The Orthodox conscience is shaken … When our conscience is shaken we remember the martyrs who shed their blood and did not stray away from the Orthodoxy of the Holy Fathers. We remember those martyred under Communism and commemorate them. Some people are too quick to forget them and started to commemorate rocks and dead corals.

          Letter of the Holy Community of Mt. Athos to Oecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
          (Signed: All the Representatives to the common Synaxis and Superiors of the twenty Holy Monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos.)

          However, in Your address to the papal delegation last November, certain viewpoints were expressed which were quite unanticipated by the body of Orthodox faithful. We were greatly grieved and our conscience shaken.

          Our disquiet grows ever more intense on account of the questions posed to us daily by our spiritual children and in general by the pious Christians who visit us and ask if indeed the text of your address expresses the mind-set (phronema) of our Holy Church. The matter takes on tragic proportions however, when we see the most pious of Orthodox faithful deserting for schismatic groups and in this way cause the holy body of the Church to bleed.

          You are well aware, Your All-Holiness, that there is nothing more painful for a shepherd than the scattering of these, the sheep of Christ.

          How should we answer then? How do we justify something which is not justifiable? How do we convince ourselves and our spiritual children that the words of Your address are consistent with the Orthodox Faith and Tradition, when obviously they cause the Tradition of the Church to be overturned and offend the Orthodox conscience?

  18. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Dean Calvert says:

    Hi Everyone,

    Christ is Risen!!!

    Was just re-reading this incredible report today…and the abject arrogance of this paragraph really struck me:

    “Metropolitan Emmanuel, knowing the huge responsibility of the Archbishopric Throne of America, said he didn’t want the job. Rev. Karloutsos, who appears and acts as some type of an “unofficial Archbishop” in America because of his nearness with Patriarch Bartholomew, has taken on the task to convince Metropolitan Emmanuel to accept it. The current government of Greece also reportedly favors Metropolitan Emmanuel’s candidacy. Karloutsos was also instrumental in the election of the former Archbishop Spyridon.”

    What struck me was this: Ok, so we know who the archbishop favors (Bp Savas), and we know who the EP, the government of Greece and Fr. Karloutsos favor, (Met. Emmanuel)…they all get votes.

    …but not an ounce of consideration is given to the question: Who does the GOA want?

    That really hit me today…and the answer is: We really don’t care who the GOA wants…they don’t get to vote in the matter.

    Just incredible. Another one of those, “disappointing, but nor surprising” moments.

    Best Regards,
    Dean

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      Eliot Ryan says:

      Truly He is Risen !!!
      Noticed that you greet us the proper way …I’ve heard that after repeated a few thousands times one begins to comprehend it…

      St. Seraphim of Sarov greeted each person who came to him with the words of the Pascha greeting “Christ is Risen, my joy.”

      This reminded them of the saving power of Christ’s Resurrection. Each left full of peace and joy and the desire to lead a life pleasing to God.

      So the government of Greece gets to vote …
      Elder Paisios of the Holy Mount Athos

      In the past our nation lived spiritually, so God blessed her, and the saints helped us in miraculous fashion. And we were victorious against our enemies, who always outnumbered us. Today we continue to call ourselves Orthodox Christians, but we don’t live Orthodox lives.

  19. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Harry Coin says:

    Well, of course the power-brokers want someone young and green and totally in desparate personal need of power-brokers.

  20. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Michael Bauman says:

    Christ is Risen!

    Forgive me brothers, but I refuse to fall prey to the tempation of cynicism. I do not trust in men, but I do trust in the Holy Spirit.

    There is gospel song about the raising of Lazurus and Mary’s complaint that Jesus was late, four days late in coming. “Even though He was four days late, he was still on time…”

    Speak our mind, but do not let our peace be shaken.

  21. Back to Recent Comments list  Back to top
    Eliot Ryan says:

    Truly He is Risen!

    The first commandment is: “You shall love the Lord your God with all of your soul, with all of your heart, with all of your might and with all of your mind.” The second commandment “love your neighbor”. Everything springs from within the first commandment and all other commandments are the result of the first and second commandment.

    It is not enough to be good people we must always keep God foremost in our minds and our hearts.

    Curing the sickness of Pharisaism by Metropolitan Athanasius of Limassol, Cyprus

    … the answer to all problems is for man to turn towards loving God, and that when man loves God, then God will cure him, God will resurrect him – even if that person is dead and decomposing – God will restore him, provided man discards from inside him all that is useless and put in his heart a love for God, and build his life around that love for God, and atop that love for God – to build his life, his marriage, his family, his path, his studies, his course. If man does that, then he will truly come to enjoy life and his life will become a paradise, because paradise is nothing more than God’s love, whereas “hell” is nothing more than the absence of God’s love.

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      Michael Bauman says:

      I wonder, is hell the absence of God’s love or our rejection of God’s love, that is to say, self-will?

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        George Michalopulos says:

        Michael, since we believe in freewill, I would imagine the latter. Even in hell God’s love exists (it can’t by definition not exist), therefore it would take a great deal of self-will for somebody to be so rejecting of God’s love and to perceive its warmth as a burning fire.

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          Michael Bauman says:

          George, I don’t think it takes a lot or self-will. Imagine God’s love as an electrical current. The more resistence in the conducting medium, the more heat is generated. Even a little resistence in a small wire exposed to a powerful current produces a lot of heat. Here we are shielded from the full power of God’s love, we have the opportunity to reduce our resistence level by allowing the Holy Spirit to enlarge our heart and/or get rid of impurities.

          Even here the purification process sometimes requires that the impurities be smelted out. The Church is a crucible in which the smelting occurs.

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            Eliot Ryan says:

            The Gurus, the Young Man, and Elder Paisios

            The elder once told me. “God would forgive the devil if he would just say one ‘Lord have mercy.’ There’s a dear old monk near here who used to pray for the devil, because he felt compassion for him. After all the devil was one of god’s creatures — in fact, he was an archangel before he fell into such a sorry state. While the elder was praying for him, the evil one appeared in the corner and started to make fun of him. The devil is unrepentant.” He concluded. As I would learn latter, this elder was actually Father Paisios.

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            Geo Michalopulos says:

            that’s a very good analogy Michael. I pray that we could all be more enlarged of heart.

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