To the Editor:
The election of Archimandrite Nathanael Symeonides to the hierarchy is very much welcome. By all accounts, he is a very humble, pious, and qualified gentleman and certainly “Axios.” Unfortunately, he stand sin direct contrast to a majority of the hierarchy of the Greek Orthodox Church of America. This isn’t the opinion of only this writer, but an accepted belief by a vast majority of the faithful and the Greek community at large who believe the hierarchy is a collection of ill-equipped, immoral, and money hungry misfits with few exceptions.
The hierarchy lacks vision for the future, talent, and in some cases, even common decency. A sense of entitlement mixed in with a comical misconception of power is prevalent. Of course, in the real world no one recognizes these people nor do they have any influence in any matter of consequence. Taking pictures of the Archbishop at the White House and plastering them all over the now-defunct Orthodox Observer serves no purpose nor do they fool anyone. For 45 years the Archdiocese has asked for help with religious freedom at the Patriarchate and for intervention in Cyprus. And for 45 years, Washington politicians, whether Democrat or Republican, have generally ignored them, knowing how powerless they are.
Parishioners have been chased away in Massachusetts and Utah, devastating several parishes as a result of ill-advised decisions made by stubborn Metropolitans. Cover-ups of criminal activity have taken place in New York where several church accounts were emptied. In Chicago and to a lesser extent in the Atlanta Metropolis, fundamental Ephramite teachings have decimated dozens of churches. Tollhouses are not supported by dogma or by the canons of the Greek Orthodox religion. In fact, much of what Ephraim teaches, including his supposed elevation from earth, is in direct conflict with our church- yet Metropolitans do little to combat this cancerous growth. Two bishops received money from a church fund from Fr. James Dokos illustrating their sense of entitlement and greed. This theft embarrassed the proud and historic Greek Orthodox community of Chicago, yet the chancellor, Bishop Demetrios, didn’t threaten the thief but the individual who reported the crime. Demetrios was subsequently “recalled.” So where is he now? Some time ago the National Herald reported that Metropolitan Gerasimos and Bishop Apostolos of San Francisco were in conflict due to Apostolos’ insubordination. Clergy accused of unspeakable acts are routinely transferred and in some cases have even been promoted to the hierarchy in other continents.
The franchise type model the Metropolitans utilize to operate the churches is an abject failure, as is the bullying of the parishes and the priests by the hierarchs to hand over money causing bad morale, distrust, and animosity. The idea that Michael Psaros is somehow on the road of transforming the Archdiocese is, of course, ridiculous. The desperate strategy of blaming Jerry Dimitriou for anything and everything is childish and obviously disingenuous. As soon as Psaros stops giving them money, he’ll be discarded as well. Until then, they’ll continue giving him plaques. Archbishop Demetrios is completely unfit remaining in a permanent state of sleep and Bishop Andonios is a laughingstock whose only skill is conducting cover-ups. Most of the clergy and laity know both need to be removed immediately, yet the Patriarchate refuses to take action. Exactly how is Mr. Psaros transforming the Archdiocese with these two individuals still in place?
Why do the faithful say nothing and fund this corruption? The deterioration of the church is not their fault, it is ours. We have given them the authority, the temerity, and fuel their sense of entitlement. We pay them handsomely and treat them as celebrities while they destroy all that has been built by the laity. At the end of the day, the laity’s complacency and failure to act I’m afraid will be the reason for the end of the Greek Orthodox Church in America.