Archimandritism: the Drama of Forced Celibacy

There are two types of clergy pastoring at the parishes of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and as a matter of fact in the parishes of the Orthodox Church throughout the world, the married priests with a wife and children and the celibate priests who usually are holders of the officio of Archimandrite.

Let me explain that the Archimandrite is basically the priest monk, in other words the monk who has been ordained a priest, who lives and acts in the world and not in the monastery where he actually belongs.

The phenomenon of the celibate priests serving in parishes is not contemporary. What surprises today is the fact that a new order of clergy has been created, the order of Archimandritisism, which is the stepping stone towards the Episcopacy. Many times I am wondering why the Archimandrites have acquired privileges toward the married clergy during the Liturgy and the Sacred Services with their only “asset” their celibacy.

It is sad to see married priests, well educated, well-respected, excellent family men who have contributed so much to the life of the Church to be forced aside during the Liturgy and the Sacred Services and young and mostly mediocre Archimandrites to officiate.

It is a shame to see some of those Archimandrites to show off their vestments and their epanokalimaychon in an effeminate way, hugging their cross without self-realization of who they are and what do they represent.

The Archimandrites usually make efforts and they glue on powerful hierarchs and they start the trips and the gifts to the Phanar, where they establish friendships with hierarchs and clerics there with access to the Patriarch having one and only aim to become Bishops. Their only privilege most of the times is their celibacy whatever quality of celibacy they have.

Some sick phenomena that appear many times here and elsewhere involving celibate priests do not seem to bother the high-ranking administrative officials of the Church, since more or less there is in place a cycle or club if you wish which covers up one another. And yet the Church, the People of God, with their contributions, donations, trays and candles pay for their salaries and their lavish lifestyles.

The scandals caused by some clergy are known to the People of God. Pederasty and homosexuality are not exclusive to celibate clergy, because the sick cases of Nicholas Katinas and Adamantios Metropoulos and others prove exactly that married priests are also disturbed, but the truth of the matter is that the percentages are much less than those of the celibate.

Of course, other married priests proved to be extremely hypocritical, as it was the scandal of George Passias, which shook the Church not only in the United States but everywhere in the world. Luke Melackrinos is another disturbing case that occurred a few weeks ago, one that is typically representative of hypocritical pietism and fundamentalism with big crosses and confessions, and the like.

I will say it one more time: the problems with the priests start at the School of Theology, where the root of hypocritical fundamentalism flourishes.

Of course there are some celibate priests who are real pearls, “men full of grace and truth,” but they can be counted of the fingers of one hand.

Personally I respect and honor the true, authentic, and healthy monasticism because it is the joyful sadness of the Church. But when I see career celibates who live in the world lavishly, two things come to my mind: they are saints, or they are sick, I don’t believe there is a middle ground.

I think this sickening situation with the forced celibacy of the Archimandrites cannot continue any longer. It is time to return to the original Tradition of the Church of the married Bishops. They should be selected married priests well educated, with mind of Christ, with a spirit of pastoral sacrifices and sensitivity, healthy, psychologically well and sexually normal.
Let the Archimandrites and the celibates go where they belong, to the Monasteries.

17 Comments

  1. I think that this article is off base. There are accusation of some archimandrites acting “Effeminate”That they live lavish lifestyles or being “medocre”. whatever that means. I believe its wrong to sensationalizee and paint all of the archimandrites with a broad brush. Let’s not follow Trump’s example and accuse people without proof. Just as Trump call the media “fake news”, without elaborating or pointing the finger at anyone instance that news are fake. Whenever there’s news of a scandal, expose it and give us names, as was the case with all the recent scandals, that were perpetrated by married priests, all of them. You bring up the names of married priests, to point out that the celibate ones are the problem. That doesn’t make much sense. If you can count the “worthy” ones in the fingers of one hand, as you’re saying, you accuse most of the other ones of being sinners. This is not an article that’s worthy of consideration. Its only yellow, sensational journalism.

  2. Mr. Kalmoukos,
    Your last three or four posts have been spot on! Thank you for your courage!!
    The discourse that needs to happen among us Greek Orthodox Christians is long over do. The Greek Orthodox faithful need to turn inward and see exactly what are beloved church has become – an exclusive mens club. {think about that the next time you do a metanoia in front of a archimandrite or bishop}.
    BTW – the Greek word for celibacy translates into not being married, which means they have lives (private lives) outside of the three to five hours a week ( at most ) they spend in church. And as far as our Bishops getting married…are you serious??? Marriage and raising children is a full time job and requires a man to devote his whole heart and entire soul to his wife and children. The modern day monastic is rock star! – marriage is not in the equation.
    @bob karp – you are not paying attention…wake up and smell the Greek Orthodox Church of 2017

    1. Michael A. You’re saying that our church has become “an exclusive man’s club” Wasn’t it always a “man’s club”. I don’t recall ever having women as priests. And. most priests spend much more time than 3-5 hours in church, as you’re saying. You’re also saying “the modern day monastic is a rock star” What is that supposed to mean”. You’re talking in riddles, or nonsense. I think nonsense is the correct description.

  3. Here I agree with Michael A’s comment about Mr. Kalmoukos getting it right once again.
    On the issue of the Greek Orthodox Church Mr. Kalmoukos is the only “truth teller” in our Greek American Community. There is a poison running in the Church today. Anyone with an open mind can see and feel it. The issue is not healthy monasticism, but the perversion we are witnessing. To say there is no proof of it, is to ignore all of the evidence. Just go to a Parish with an Ephraim worshipping Priest and if you don’t see or feel it than something in your brain is not functioning.

    Our beloved Church is dying and no one BUT Mr. Kalmoukos is touching the subject. Our faculty at Holy Cross Hellenic College (“HC/HC”) appears to be in a state of denial or abject cowardice. I differ in one small respect from Mr. Kalmoukos article above. It is on the subject of the students at HC/HC. Here I believe that those who are blindly obedient to Ephraimite spiritual fathers are preprogramed and can not be turned back to the light once they get there. It appears that there are people at HC/HC who go out of their way to reinforce the Ephraimite teachings they bring to the school.
    We are sinking like an anchor in the water. We are in the selling Parish property mode and constricting. Instead of moving into the 21st century these Ephraimite Priests are moving us back to the 5th century. Their “Aerial Tollhouse” dogma subject us to general mockery and ridicule from other Christians.

    1. Basil312. Your article is against the “Ephremites” as you call them. kalmouko’s article was about the Archimadrites. I don’t even think he even touched the Ephremites subject at all. What type of connection does your post have with the one at hand? None whatsoever. If you think that most arhimandrites are “effeminate”, corrupt or pleasure seeking, then give us their names. As kalmoukos should do. Otherwise, accusing people with just hearsay, with no evidence, is wrong. I realize, that this is the era of Trump who has now made baseless accusations O.K. However, it is Not O.K.

  4. @Basil312Than you for your courage – I sense you love the church as much as I do.
    @Bob Karp – Why do you keep comparing Kalmoukos’ posts to today’s political climate? One has nothing to do with the other. Kalmoukos is providing truth to the Greek Orthodox faithful. A reality most of us would rather not talk about. We need truth tellers. { Apostolos – one who is ordered forth to tell the truth.} The Greek Orthodox church that I have loved with all my heart ever since I was a young child is not a church anymore. It’s become a glorified community center – at best.
    Where is the humility of our priests, archimandrites, and bishops? “And yet the Church, the People of God, with their contributions, donations, trays and candles pay for their salaries and their lavish lifestyles” – and let’s not forget the numerous hours our beloved brothers and sisters in Christ volunteer to the Church.
    Whether you like it or not Bob, this statement by Kalmoukos is true. The archimandrites and bishops do very well for themselves – we should all have it as good as they do. Jesus Christ himself never had it as good as they do – never indulged in any luxuries, He counted on the charity of others.
    Where is the Evangelism? Evangelism – which is the most basic teaching has eluded us (the Greek Orthodox) for many years…It’s become a foreign word – an after thought.
    When the Orthodox church entered the United States it was welcomed because America was and is all inclusive and welcoming. The GOA is becoming the opposite of that – exclusive and not welcoming. The evidence is in the Gospel – “The great Commission Christ – which we do not preach outside of our own walls.
    Early Christians viewed themselves as the church of God on earth, we can only pray that future generations will have the same view.
    In Christ,
    MA

    1. Michael. I understand that you are disheartened by what’s going on at our churches and with the priest’s abuse of power or finances. Let’s not forget though, that you are also part of the church. If there are any disgressions that you see, you should report them and refuse to contribute stewardship money, or time. If you see any lavish spending, don’t be quiet. Report it. If you see your priest driving a Porche, instead of a Ford, complain. I myself have not seen any of that, in our priest. he drives an older car and goes on one vacation a year. Just normal stuff. But, I am vigilant. However, don’t go around accusing EVERYONE, as you’re doing, with generalities. Give us specifics. Give us names. And finally, if you don’t feel that this church does not represent what you’re looking for, try the OCA. As a matter of fact, I have seen something and I have said something, as we are urged to do by the NYC police. In our church, our presvytera was a supporter of a certain political candidate. She was posting very combative articles on her facebook page, causing a rift in our community. After several warnings from me were ignored, I reported her to our Metropolitan. Immediate action was taken. Her facebook pages were expunged of all political talk. My family represents 5 dues paying families and volunteers for all kinds of ministries. I warned our chancellor, that, if no action was taken, I will go to the OCA. Your lesson from this is the following. Don’t just complain with generalities. It doesn’t do any good. Act on specifics. It”ll be healthy in the long run for our church.

  5. Dear Bob Carp,

    Below are some excerpts of articles in the National Herald. These are meant to enlighten you about Fundamentalism in our beloved, yet dying Church. When Mr. Kalmoukos discusses this plague, he may not be using the term “Ephraimite” [by the way, this is the correct spelling], but those that are following this issue know exactly what he means. Please see the comments made in the last article referenced. This comment was made by his Grace Bishop Andonios. It appears that even our Hierarchs use this “Ephraimite” term of art.

    “Elderism, Futurism, and Prophetism
    Theodoros Kalmoukos January 31, 2017
    Not a month or week goes by without a new prophecy emerging about things that will supposedly happen on a local or even national and international level. This phenomenon, which is widely spread in Greece but also has been transplanted here in the United States though the Ephraimite movement of extreme fundamentalism, can be descripted with three words: elderism, futurism, and prophetism.
    It has to do with “prophesies” and “statements” of various monks, who either died in distant past or even recently, or are still alive on Mount Athos and elsewhere. Such is the case of elder Ephraim here in the United States, who has filled the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese through the country with Monasteries.”

    “Another Hypocritical Pietism
    Theodoros Kalmoukos January 24, 2017
    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…………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.”

    “American Monastery Money Intrigue
    TNH Staff December 20, 2013
    By A.P.Cromidas
    Ten years ago it was reported in The National Herald (TNH) that the
    Greek Orthodox Holy Synod of U.S. Bishops was saying that some sort of cult
    fundamentalism was being practiced in the U.S. by the monasteries controlled by
    the monk, Elder Ephraim. But, apparently, no action to speak of ever addressed
    Last year, at the fall Archdiocesan Council meeting, Michael Jaharis, the
    ranking layman chairing the session, made unprecedented comments about
    monastery problems in the Greek Archdiocese. He said that over the years,
    some of these monasteries have not respected their proper relationship to the
    archdiocese and that a committee was established to look into these matters but
    the committee had experienced a “lack of cooperation.” He even likened actions
    by the monasteries to a “disease” that must be guarded against.”

    “St. Paul’s Fr. Melackrinos Suspended
    Theodoros Kalmoukos January 27, 2017
    The National Herald asks Bishop Andonios various questions, here is a sample:
    TNH: Was he also involved with the Monasteries?
    BA: I don’t think so. Today, the new generation of priests were their anteri-inner cassock-but, I don’t have the impression that he was an Ephraimite.”

    So Bob the discerning readers of his GREAT article understand the meaning behind the words. “If you want to be a self-righteous pious monk, then by-pass the Parish and go straight into one of Ephraim’s monasteries!” Quit turning people away from our Faith.

  6. Basil and Michael. The articles that you are referencing are all proven facts. -I have no problem with proven facts, such as the recent scandals, which were exposed by Kalmoukos and he should be applauded. What I have a problem with is the fact that he accuses Archimandrites for being “effeminate”, as if to say that they are all gay and he goes on to bring up the sins committed by married priests in the same article, as if those sins were committed by non-married priests. If they have committed a crime, or a grave sin, let’s expose it. Otherwise, why even bring it up? You are bringing up Ephraimism and monasticism, to an article that had nothing to do with that. I get it, you are against monasticism. Don’t be a monk and don’t support the monasteries financially. Otherwise, if others want to be monks, what does it bother you? Any one can be what they want to be. As for prophesies and futurisms, I grew up with those. people can say what they want. If you listen to them and follow them, you were duped. There’s a sucker born every minute. That’s not going to change.

    1. Bob, first of all no one is against monasteries or against healthy monasticism. What bothers us and what you don’t want to acknowledge is how all of these problem are intertwined and lead to more problems. So let’s look at what happens to people that bring up serious issues. For many years the issues associated with former Fr. George Passias were brought to the attention of the hierarchs. With regard to financial issues, I am personally aware of multiple people who asked for an investigation. Of course there were also other issues as many of those stemmed from his being a spiritual son of Elder Ephraim. In the end, after years of complaining, the only thing that ended his career were sexual indiscretions that were published in the international press and internet. As for the financial issues….in the words of the local Bishop “we are still looking in to that”. Really, what are these Donald Trump’s tax returns?
      All those people that complained were basically told “move along there is nothing here”.
      In Chicago one Archon who was on the Archdiocesan Council at the time, went to the Synod with pictures of a compromised clergyman. What happened ………… NOTHING! Try going to the men in black with a serious concern and evidence and what do you get…..”Deny…Defend…Deflect”. Then of course you get shamed and marginalized by their courtiers. This is not the institution you think it is. That is why people are leaving in record numbers. As for my claim of record number, here of course we have zero transparency. They refuse to provide the numbers. We “officially” tell outsiders we have 1,500,000 adherents and about 540 parishes. Look at a transparent denomination like The United Church of Christ. They began in 1957, we have been around as an organized institution since the 1920’s. The have just under 1,000,000 adherents. Half a million less then we claim. How many Parishes do they have, care to guess…….. just over 5,000. Are you starting to see the problem? We, as an institution are a mess. Leadership is emasculated by the fundamentalist in the Church and we are in a death spiral. From my personal vantage point you wish to take issue with maybe the only “truth teller” who has the guts to call it like it is. God Bless You Mr. Kalmoukos. Please keep speaking the truth.

      1. basil. As you pointed out, Pasias was brought down by exposure to the American press. If that’s what it takes and you have proof of any wrong doing, then bring it to the American press. Again, what I’m against is not exposing the wrongdoers. I would be among the first to expose anyone whom I see that has acted in a manner that’s detrimental to our church. But, we have to be carefull. There are many priests and archimandrites that are men of God. They work hard in parishes that are not glamorous, or wealthy. If we go around accusing people unjustly, then, we are causing just as much harm as any priest.
        As for the numbers that are leaving the church, it is troubling. Weddings are down, but, that’s the trend everywhere. people don’t get married in church any longer. They get married at the venue that they hold the reception. People have distanced themselves from religion. Its not important to them any longer. There’s not one cause. There are many. But the fact is that we all want good priests, with great voice and powerful sermons, but, no one is urging their sons to be priests, or archimandrites. We want them to be doctors, or lawyers. Where are the good priests going to come from, if not from our communities? I say to both Basil and Michael. If you have sons, have you brought up the option of serving in the priesthood? If not, then you can not expect any better, if you’re not willing to contribute to the betterment. Kalmoukos does a great service by exposing the rotten apples. We thank him for that. But, let’s not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

      2. Bob, you and I agree on many things. For example we all know there are many great Priests who serve in the GOA. BUT, here in the Metropolis of Chicago many who would have gone to seminary do not because of the toxic environment here. Next are you aware of the Monastery Review Committee of the GOA? Another example of our problems being swept under the rug. As long as there is a long line of people who enable this broken system we are destined for decline.
        So the narrative that all Churches are in decline is a very unhealthy and misleading “alternative fact”. So check out these numbers:
        Church of God in Christ, in 1965 it had 425,000 adherents and today 5,499,875.
        Presbyterian Church in America, in 1973 41,232 and in 2012 367,033.
        Evangelical Free Church of America in 1965 43,851 and in 2013 372,321
        Assemblies of God in 1965 572,123 and in 2013 3,030,944.
        Do I need to go on because there are many more examples of Churches that are growing. Do not let our leadership off the hook! Do not let them convince you as they do to their rich enablers that the sky is falling and we can’t stop this trend. Many people I personally know have left our Church, not because they left Christianity, but because of what they see is wrong with us.

      3. Basil. We do agree on many points of view. And it is a fact that our churches are emptying. My parish has moved to a larger, Byzantine style church, with ample parking, from an inner-city church and yet, our Sunday attendance is down. And, everyone comes just before communion and is in a hurry to leave. That’s today’s life. But, you can’t compare our church with the ones that you mentioned. Our church is still considered an “immigrant”, a foreign church. We’re not part of the American mainstream, as those churches are. You don’t have converts, unless through marriage. My wife was a baptist, but, she loves our church and became Orthodox. My son married a non-affiliated young woman, who was baptized in our church. My daughter married a Catholic, who converted. That’s because I raised them in the church. That’s the only way you will get more people in the pews. Unfortunately, we don’t have anyone walking in from the street and becoming Orthodox. Its the image that we have, plus the fact that its call “Greek Orthodox Church”. People think that you have to be Greek to be a part of it. I try to explain that you don’t have to be a “Roman” to be part of the Roman Catholic Church and it works, to a degree. But, I’m only one person

  7. Mr Carp,

    Really?

    I have no problem with a priest driving a Porsche. If God blessed him to be able to do that, great.

    You appeared to me to be hung-up with the “effeminate” thing. Is that an issue for you? No disrespect, are you gay? Were you hurt by thugs because of that? That is wrong if you were and I am sorry if you were abused for being a homosexual. That is inexcusable.

    I have a problem with some (I hope this qualifier helps) effeminate clergy who use this disposition as a sign of “sensitivity, being chic, humble, or gentle” when in reality they are superficial manipulators who could never make it in the real world – you know, like some bishops. (I haven’t been to Chicago in a while). I am sickened by males who wear a collar and hide behind it just so they can be with affluent people, or have a taste of being able to control others thereby giving them a false sense of importance.

    I have a problem with effeminate clergy who are gay. Then can do their gay things all they want, but not as Orthodox clergymen.

    I have a problem with Archmandrites who act superior to married clergy, simply because they choose to not be married, or are unable to be in a normal and healthy relationship.

    I have a problem with Clergy without backbone, sycophants, superficial yes-men that have no objective thinking – you know the kind that our bishops want, the kind that would fare will in a moneystary also. These are all very poor excuses for men, who blindly obey the pitiful leadership that is emptying out our churches.

    Here in Canada, Ephraim has been a poor example of a good Athonite monk, when in reality he, and his blue-collar-now-white-collar friend Paisios get a charge out of money and power. Believe me, no one is saddened that he is not here anymore. They are focused on loonie toonie (Canadian $$)

    If you do not see the problem my friend you are either lying (heck maybe you are a monk yourself?) or somehow living in your version of Orthodox La La Land. You sound intelligent, but what are you arguing for? There are countless examples that ABOUND and support Mr. Kalmoukos.

    You bring in politics and then tell people to go to the OCA. Is that why you are here Bob? Do you really think the OCA is any better? Is this the proper forum to recruit for the OCA? Are you a typical example of a member of the OCA? If I leave the GOA , I am running to the Antiochians.

    Tom

  8. Bravo Basil!!!
    @ Bob-your point about being vigilant, watchful, and pro-active is a valid one. After all, Jesus Christ who was nailed to a cross so that our sins and impurities may be cleansed and salvation might be possible ; left His holy church in our hands-our unworthy hands. However, like Basil mentioned, deny, defend, deflect is always in play making it difficult for the faithful to approach the hierarchy.
    DDD is the first page and every page of the Archdiocesan play book. Bob, it doesn’t sound like your from the Archdiocesan district where a lot of the problems are coming from (especially the last six years).
    Here is a little unknown fact about attendance on any given Sunday —( excluding Palm Sunday and Pascha) there are only 150,000 people attending our (GOA) churches. Also, the Atlanta diocese is or was the fasting growing diocese in The GOA. I learned this while I was attending the Diaconate Program at Holy Cross in 2009. So the real tradegy amongst all the other tragedies is that our children might not understand or care to understand the love of Christ and beauty of our faith like we understand it and how our parents and Grandparents understood it – therefore leaving our churches unattended in the future.
    Thank you for your courage-its time people understood what exactly is happening in our churches.

    1. Michael. Look at my reply above this article. BTW, i’m not in the Archdiocesan district. I’m in the New Jersey diocese.

      1. @Bob – nicely stated. And count it a blessing you are in the New Jersey diocese.
        There are a few potential priests in my own family, however, the priesthood is not an option for them until the focus is on Christ and community again and not the idiocy of men wearing rassa, puffed up titles they give themselves, monastic movements, and money.
        Thank you for your courage.
        Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit will guide our Holy Church.

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