Another Hypocritical Pietism

Before the Greek-Orthodox Archdiocese of America and our Greek-American community had a chance to recover from the huge sexual scandal of George Passias – once Chancellor of the Archdiocese – the scandal of Rev. Luke Melackrinos broke. Just like Passias, Melackrinos also appeared to be a pious priest, pretending to be spiritual, whatever the term “spirituality” means anymore.
Another parish in our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, St. Paul’s in Hempstead, NY, is now going through much suffering that it’s presiding priest’s scandal created.
Instead of praying and doing the work of God for which he was getting paid by the church – meaning, the faithful – he was sending inappropriate photos of himself to a woman in the parish. This is one more case of hypocritical pietism.
I have written in the past about the pestiferous syndrome of the pseudospiritualism that some priests use in order to appear to be “spiritual fathers” and soul saviors. Let me clarify one more time that piety is one thing, the living of the truth of the Church, and it is another thing to publicly display one’s “spirituality” in a hypocritical manner.
It was the pseudopietism and the hypocrisy that made Christ Himself say those denunciatory “woes” to the cast of Pharisees and Scribes – the clergy of His time. Those “woes” are so timely for a big part of our clergy of all ranks today. I should emphasize, though, that there many clergymen today also who are “men full of grace and truth” in contradistinction to those who are full of hypocrisy, corruption and hoodlumism.
Melackrinos seemed “pious” and “traditional,” whatever that means. He wore an anteri (inner cassock) with a big red cross inwrought in front and also the kalimavhi (clerical hat) teaching and preaching to the faithful about confession. That some parishioners and also members of the Archdiocesan Council told me that St. Paul’s was being transformed into some sort of Ephraimite monastery is quite alarming.
I am at times astonished by the Archdiocese’s lack of criteria and discretion regarding the appointments of priests like Anastasios Gounaris (he was defrocked) to the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York and after that to St. Nicholas in Tarpon Springs, FL, and such as Luke Melackrinos to the St. Paul Cathedral.
I am wondering what the Archdiocese is going to say to St. Paul’s faithful and generous congregants, who paid Melackrinos well to be their priest and teacher in faith and not an “exhibitionist” who sends inappropriate photos.
Furthermore, what will the Archdiocese say to the children, teenagers, and young men and women who held Melackrinos in such high esteem and sought guidance and direction from him?
Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, Chancellor of the Archdiocese, told TNH about Melackrinos’ unholy acts and that he will send him for counseling, and that there are others too. The Archdiocese, which is actually the body of the faithful, us, not the building, will be called to assume the expense of the therapy.
Let me remind that these expenses, including the Archdiocese’s sustenance – the salaries, the benefits, the trips, the meetings, and of course the psychologists for problematic clergy – are paid by the selling of candles, the collections in the trays, the donations, and also the income from the “heroic” Greek festivals with the skewered lambs, pigs, souvlakia, and, of course, the loukoumades. This is the reality and the drama of our Church.
One more thing: priests with ethos, in good spiritual and mental health, well-educated, and bilingual are cast off to small and inconspicuous parishes, while others who are exceptional mediocrities in all aspects are appointed to prestigious cathedrals, enjoying high salaries and benefits, luxurious homes and cars, and living a lavish lifestyle.
I respectfully urge our archbishop, His Eminence Geron of America Demetrios for the good of the Church and also for his own legacy to be bold in clean up the clergy of all ranks before more scandals emerge.

10 Comments

  1. Once again we face scandals that are the result of the inattention of the Greek Orthodox Church in America to conduct church affairs with oversight, accountability, disclosures and transparency. And while discussing scandals how about the issues of nepotism and simony? We are specially grateful to Mr Kalmoukos and the National Herald Newspaper for providing us with real church news and information that is omitted from the Orthodox Observer that replicates “fake news”.
    Don’t expect any changes with reference to the fake pietism of the monastically connected clergy.

  2. Shame on church leaders for their indifference to the management, governance, oversight of the church.
    Let’s just make America Greek again!

  3. Thanks for keeping us aware of the many serious church problems that are never recorded in the Orthodox Observer.

  4. Theodore. I agree with you. The archdiocese should exercise more caution when assigning a priest. It is better to close a church, than to have a priest that would besmirch the name of our Greek Orthodox church. We have had too many scandals recently. Even the New York Post, in its article of this priest, mentions that fact. For our number of parishes, we truly have had too many scandals. Our churches are half full on Sundays and with maybe 3-4 people on a weekday liturgy . Young people are abandoning the church in droves. The church does not reach them. Couples marry at the reception center. In my parish alone, I hear so many names of people that have died, that had never come to church. They are only taken there when they’re dead. If the only way we attract priest is to pay them those exorbitant salaries, then maybe they don’t have the calling. They are in it as a profession. There are presvyteres that rarely show up at liturgies. There are some that take sides on the recent presidential elections on social media, causing division and bitterness.Our priest excoriates weekly the congregation to be in church early and yet, his family and his presvytera are never on time. If you can’t persuade your own family to attend church faithfully and timely, how can you persuade others?

  5. Thank you Mr. Kalmoukos and to the National Herald for bringing these unexceptable and inexcusable behaviors and “fake pietism” into the light. The last six years has brought so much heartache to the Greek Orthodox faithful starting with the priest in Bridgeport. What happened to the mission? What happened to “The Great Commission of Christ? – Making disciples of all nations. Where are the ministries? Where is the love? Where are the pure hearted – pious servants that are going to shepherd Christ’s flock? Where is the humility?
    Lord have mercy on us!

  6. Thank you Mr. Kalmoukos and your publisher as well.
    This case as well as the infamous George Passias case point to one thing and one thing alone, gross incompetence. We now have a system within the Greek Orthodox Archdioceses (“GOA”) that has promoted a false piety among the Ephraimite worshipping Clergy and the Holy Hypocrites that “lead” them. The GOA, after the significant charter changes of 2002 has been neutered by the Ecumenical Patriarch as a way to control the underlying need to have a unified Orthodox Church in America. This created the perfect storm and now we see the end result. Ephraimite worshipping Priests turning Parishes into mini-subservient Monasteries, whose clergy are control by uneducated “spirituals fathers” pretending to be Athonite Monks in North America. Add to that mess Hierarchs who only seem to care about being surrounded by courtiers and sycophants. Those who question are shown the door. The Parishes are emptying and with the loss of each soul we loss more and more power within the American landscape. Be it relevance at the table with other Christian leaders or even presenting a strong position to influence the lobbying efforts to support Greece, we are failing on all counts. Yet, those in Leadership 100 or the others being lead tell us: “Things are great,….did you see the Archbishop at the Presidential Inauguration!” WELL THEY ARE NOT LEADING AND WE NO LONGER BELIEVE YOU!

    1. @Basil312…well Said!!!
      Today we celebrate the presentation of Christ into the temple. “Receive” Christ wholeheartedly like St.Symeon received
      Christ into his loving arms. It’s time Orthodox Christians ( especially us Greeks) to take responsibility
      for our own spiritual journey….we have all resources but most importantly we have Christ. I made that decision
      Six years ago after completing the diaconate program at Holy Cross. Attending a Greek Orthodox Church out of obligation
      or guilt does nothing for your spiritual journey….it will actually cause a person to walk away. Be there because your heart is on fire for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and you will be a spiritual resource for many of the faithful who need guidance.

  7. Michael A.
    Thanks….for the “well Said”.
    I read your post with some degree of sadness, not exclusively for you, but for all of us. It sounds as if you have left the Greek Orthodox Church, I and many others get it. We understand. Most of my friends who are in their 50’s and 60’s stay out of obligation. We stay for the greater good of the Greek community, but in our hearts we see our Church for what it has become, a dying and suffering institution. Those that stay do so out of personal obligation to the ghosts of the past. I genuinely believe that most stay with blinders on so that they can tolerate the pain. Because to see things clearly as you do, opens up an avenue to an exit. Have you left? Did the seminary act as a catalyst to you leaving? Do you think anything will occur to stop us from going off the cliff? I ask these personal questions because I see that you get it, sadly so many don’t.

  8. @ Basil
    I appreciate your heartfelt response…
    I did not leave the Greek Orthodox Church. However, the struggle to stay is real. The top down authoritarian structure and system, old world mentality, as well as the exclusive culture that exists in the Greek Orthodox church today goes against everything Jesus Christ preached and was crucified for. And to be honest the closed – ghetto mindset in our parishes goes against everything I believe as well… Jesus in the Gospels came to us as a living and personal relationship with God. He came to us bottom up, open system, inclusive, pluralistic and loving. There was freedom of choice between Him and dead tradition -institutionalized religion. Jesus came to us evangelical and protesting. Jesus was never compliant or conforming…
    Compliancy, conformance , and obligation has left us with a Greek Orthodox Church in America that is evangelically and spiritually deficient.
    With love in Christ

  9. What is the difference if a priest wears a collar and suit jacket or a cassock?? that is only a problem here in America. So the wearing of a cassock is external and means nothing. There are plenty of priests in the other countries who wear them and do bad things. unfortunately here in america we have made that a criteria of being more pious which is ludicrous. Priests are humans and they fall whether they wear cassocks or collars. It matters what is within.

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