BOSTON, MA – Former Archbishop Spyridon of America discussed with TNH a number of serious ecclesiastical issues including the split of the Archdiocese into Metropolises, and the recent scandal of his former chancellor George Passias.
The former prelate began by discussing prominent Dartmouth Professor John Rassias, who died recently in Vermont. Rassias led the committee appointed by Archbishop Spyridon for the reorganization of Greek Education within the Archdiocese.
He said that “I was pleased to have met professor Rassias in the beginning of my archpastorship in America. I was trying to find a way to deal with the chronic problem of the reaching of the Greek language to the Greek-American children. I invited him to the Archdiocese and I appreciated the man’s authentic character and his passion for his field. Since then we were tied with a close friendship that lasted until the day of his death”.
He also said that “the findings and the recommendations of the Rassias Committee were and still are useful for the teaching of the Greek language and the reorganization of the Greek Education.”
Archbishop Spyridon spoke with sorrow about the sexual scandal of his former chancellor George Passias, with his goddaughter and close associate Ethel Bouzalas, which scandalized the Greek-American community and also the entire Orthodox world. He said “I was following with much pain all that the press was reporting all those days.”
Speaking about the ecclesiastical affairs in America he said “I constantly ask what the future of our Church is going to be in America as I see the continuous assimilation of the Greek element. The closing of the Greek Schools, the growing carrier mentality of the clergy make me agonizing more and more every day.”
Asked if the split of the Archdiocese and the creation of the Metropolises was a mistake in final analysis, since the unity of the Archdiocese seems to be ruined in many instances by the Metropolitans themselves, Spyridon said “for many it was a precipitated decision and for other panacea. The division of the Archdiocese into smaller ecclesiastical entities doesn’t advance the unity of the Church in America.”
When invited to comment of the attempted “ecclesiastical coup” that TNH revealed in July, aiming to dethrone His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America and replace him with Metropolitan Elpidoforos of Proussa form Turkey, he said “I know one thing that these type of coups are done usually in the silence and in darkness. A coup would overturn the ‘balancing’ and where would the leadership of the Patriarchate find a more accommodating archbishop?”
Can a hierarch from Turkey with the Anatolian mentality or a hierarch from Greece with the fundamentalist mentality of the “length of hair and beard” become Archbishop of America? “The way that the situation has been formed in our Church here today everything is possible,” Spyridon said. “No scenario is impossible. It all depends about the definition of the role of the archbishop that the Patriarchate wants him to play.”
Concerning the homosexuality among clergy of all ranks, deacons, priests, and bishops, he said “the Holy Bible is clear and the holy canons categorically explicit.” Would he ordain a known homosexual or pedophile to the priesthood or to the episcopacy? he “How can the Bishop who is the protector of the holy canons can go against them?” he replied.
Spyridon considers the Great Council of Orthodoxy, which will convene in 2016, “an event of highest magnitude for our Orthodox Church for the near and distant future.”
Concerning the way His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew appoints the members of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate, Spyridon said “many hierarchs of the Patriarchate favor the return of the traditional form of the synodic office, which means the participation of all the hierarchs as it was done before 1922.”
Spyridon agrees that titular hierarchs without a real Metropolis “don’t have a reason to exist in the life of the Church today.”
He is not willing to assume a new position in the Church.