We Have Enough Bishops

Analysis
By Theodoros Kalmoukos

It has come to our attention that word has been circulating that the Archdiocese is thinking of electing new auxiliary Bishops “in order to take care of some celibate priests.”
The last was Bishop Apostolos of Medeia, who was elected in November, 2014, and who currently serves as Chancellor to Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco. Let me remind everyone that it was Gerasimos who recommended and propelled him initially, but now his is pulling his hair out about that, to the point that he asked for Apostolos’ removal as TNH revealed last November.
The question that has come again to light is: do we need more bishops at the Archdiocese?
I remind you that we have eight Metropolitans: Iakovos of Chicago, Methodios of Boston, Isaiah of Denver, Alexios of Atlanta, Nicholas of Detroit, Savas of Pittsburgh, Gerasimos of San Francisco, and Evangelos of New Jersey. Also, Archbishop Demetrios, who has the Archpastoral responsibility for the so-called Direct Archdiocesan District. The canonical and proper title of the Archbishop should have been Metropolitan of New York and Archbishop of All America. This issue and many other issues should be dealt with at some point in the charter, which has a lot of shortcomings and thus some ecclesiological irregularities occur, especially when the Archbishop visits a Metropolis and he is commemorated as “poimenarhis –shepherd,” while from Monday to Saturday the local Metropolitan is commemorated as “poimenarhis.”
In addition to nine Metropolitans (including Demetrios), there are four auxiliary Bishops: Bishop Andonios of Phasiane- Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos- Chancellor at the Metropolis of Chicago, Bishop Sevastianos of Zela- Chief Secretary of the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese, and Bishop Apostolos of Medeia- Chancellor at the Metropolis of San Francisco. Basically, all of them are auxiliaries to Archbishop Demetrios.
Bishops Demetrios and Apostolos serve as chancellors “on loan” from the Archbishop, which means he can recall them to the Archdiocese anytime.
But TNH has learned that Demetrios doesn’t want them near him for his own reasons. He didn’t want them to be elevated to the bishopric rank but was pressed to do that by the Patriarchate and certain Phanar hierarchs. There is a whole circle or club that tries to promote their own.
The opinion that exists today among the clergy and laity is that we have more than enough bishops; we don’t need any more even for the basic reason that they cost the Archdiocese a lot of money. I would like to simply remind everyone that the Archdiocese is not a soulless building. It is the People of God, who pay with their offerings, the candles, the trays, the donations, the annual contributions that are nowadays called “stewardships,” the Greek Festivals with the roasted lambs and, of course, the famous loukoumades, the salaries and the benefits of everyone at the Archdiocese, including the metropolitans and bishops.
At least in Greece, where there is also a plethora of metropolitans and bishops, they are paid from the European loans by the bankrupt Greek State. Included among them are those who Patriarch Bartholomew ordains, who often go around in Greece doing funerals, weddings, and panegyrics. Here in the United States, things are different because we are not, thank God, a State Church, and all the expenses are covered by the faithful.
Moreover, many of the hierarchs, including Archbishop Demetrios, are of advanced age, and it would be beneficial to start retiring the active ministry; they have served enough. Of course, the question of with whom are they going to be replaced could cause some people to pull their hair from their heads. If we dare to look at the official list of the Archimandrites who are eligible to become bishops simply because they are celibates, we would really start crying.
I worry so much about the future. Our generation could show some understanding and even tolerance about the despotic behavior of some hierarchs, their legalistic mentality, and the constant begging for more and more money from the parishes, but make no mistake that our children and grandchildren will not tolerate them. They have already begun to turn their back on them and they consider most of them irrelevant.
Talking with young Greek-Orthodox men and women who have been successful in their fields of science, medicine, law, and academia, they care about the Faith and the Church, but they have difficulties accepting the careerist bishops and priests of the institutionalized ecclesial structure and life. The Byzantine fanfare, including the archaic canons and fundamentalist mentality do not have any meaning for the contemporary generations.
Perhaps the rediscovery and return to the original Tradition of the Church of married Bishops could be a solution, because it is one thing to select a Bishop from a pool of 25 celibate candidates and another to select from a pool of 700. The career archimandritism and the unnatural imposition of celibacy have caused dead ends and many scandals. Indubitably, there are also married priests who are problematic and limited in many ways, but less so than the celibates. Also, there are celibates who are real gems: men with ethos and physiologically balanced and healthy.
With all due respect to the high priesthood, I think that today’s hierarchs are simply bureaucratic managers of the ecclesiastical life and in many cases they are failing managers. The charisma of paternity, the vision, the care, the desire for the building of Body of Christ are absent. The mind of Christ is lost in the many programs and “ministries” and in the legalistic approaches of the archaic canons and the hundreds of regulations. Don’t we see the weathering in our empty naves?


6 Comments

  1. A very insightful article I totally agree with you. Many of our priests have better educations and visions for this church. I have been saying the same things for years.

  2. Mr. Kalmoukos, Again I must say thank you for your courage…this is all part of the discourse, discussion is healthy – unless of course we are not, “one holy, catholic, and apostolic church.
    The archdiocese is a mirror image of our parishes and vice – versa. Nothing ever changes! The parish I have been attending for the last fifteen years has been recycling the same 6-8 people in the most important positions for the last 30 years. Resisting change as well as resisting people who would love a change to serve (people with love and talent).
    Brothers and Sisters in Christ, focus on Jesus!

  3. As usual The National Herald and Mr Kalmoukos are right about not requiring/making more bishops in the USA. While Kalmoukos usually provides us with advance notification of Istanbul plans, he should also communicate to the patriarch the need to reconsider his plans in view of our needs. The costly operations of the titular metropolitans could be reversed by replacing them with better trained capable priest/vicars or even lay administrators of the dioceses. The ordination of deacons and priests could be reserved for the archbishop who as the Exarch of the patriarchate would govern and administer with accountability and transparency and with the full support of clergy and laity. Archbishop Demetrios despite his advanced age remains physically, emotionally, intellectually and psychologically quite capable and able to lead the Church with the aid of Fr. Alex Karloutsos and the national church staff.
    Right now with the current emphasis on (separate and divide our people through the titular metropolises and replicate programs) our church continues to shrink and fail to attract new families and our youth and young adults. History proves that millennials don’t attend church services and are not attracted by Byzantine liturgies that go on for hours and are climaxed by long episcopal sermons read in Greek and English.
    Please note that without Ethnic/Greek food and pastry festivals many of our parishes would already have closed. Also Orthodoxy in America is not going to survive on Greek dance festivals and baklava.7

    1. @ Father Steven
      Excellent points! The youth would probably endure the long beautiful byzantine liturgies and may find them actual spiritually uplifting if they were participating. Anyone serving as an psalti, especially when being paid, should be teaching and gathering groups of young men and women to chant at the analogion and in the pews. instead of chanting selfishly into their late eighties and never sharing there knowledge and talents with future generations…enough already!!! I love the idea of lay administrators at the archdiocese level and at the parish level. I would go one step further and introduce the office of sub-deacon. I know sub-deacons in the antiochian and slavic churches that are doing amazing works and it’s all volunteer – what a concept!!!
      I have suggested this to the chancellor in the archdiocesan district six months ago…maybe one day it will be considered. Maybe I will be the first.
      From 2007 to 2011, with the blessing of our priest at the time, I formed a cycling club for young adults and adults which gathered on Saturdays mornings for thirty mile rides and fellowship at one of local diners afterwards. we gathered 48 cyclists ( not all orthodox) over the five seasons. Cycling on Saturdays in the spring, summer and fall. Getting to know people outside of church and cycling not only increased our physical well being it enhanced our spiritual well being as well. The men and women that came to cycle along with their families got more involved with church life because our common bond was Jesus and community. The Orthodox faithful are so eager to have healthy and vibrant church lives. May it happen soon.
      In XC, Michael A.

  4. Hello Mr. Kalmouko, I am a new reader of your paper’s web page and I admire your stand on our church.
    I like to comment on the paranoia of Fr. Vlahos above. At one point he claims that the churches would have closed without the funds that the festivals bring in, and on the other point he claims that “Orthodoxy in America is not going to survive on Greek festivals and baklava.” Where does he stand? I would like to tell you that our
    churches are expensive to run, life is expensive, our members are constantly asked for more, and our young people have families of their own and do not have
    all that extra money to support our churches as we would like them to do. Consequently, we must treat the church as a business to survive! We must do all that is necessary to bring money in to meet our expenses.
    It is one thing to philosophize ( pipe dream ) and completely another in practice/ reality. The majority of our parishioners are not wealthy to constantly give to the various needs of the parish. Between faith and food to the table, I think the former will take second place.
    Ted Karnezis, Parish Council Member, St. John Greek Orthodox Church, Anaheim, California.

  5. It is my prayer that the above named person has psychological training that enables him with the ability to name a priest paranoid for stating truths regarding Greek Festivals, Greek Dance festival etc. James

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