The pain and damage caused to Fr. Nicholas Kastanas, his family – we was not permitted to attend his son’s wedding or his grandchildren’s baptism during his suspension – and the local church of St. Athanasius in Arlington, Massachusetts, which he served with devotion and sacrificial love and made it stand out thanks to his constant efforts and care, day and night for 28 years, lasted for almost four years.
Yes, this is how he won the respect, love and appreciation of the Church, that is, of the Body of the Laity. These things are earned, they are not purchased at any price, because people have an infallible sense and know how to distinguish and assess such matters.
There are, of course, exceptions that speak or cry out according to their inner logic and deeper facts.
The drama of Fr. Kastanas and subsequently of St. Athanasius – because it is indubitably a drama – would never have happened if there had been prudent, competent, and spiritually superior archpastoral care at the local Boston level, but also competent leadership at the Archdiocesan level at the time it unfolded – to speak plainly.
Let me emphasize directly that if Elpidophoros had been the Archbishop of America at that time, things would not have reached the point they reached for Fr. Kastanas and St. Athanasius, and it is terribly difficult to rebuild a local church, which in fact was a most up-and-coming parish in every way. Of course, the bitter truth is that it was not the only local church that fell victim to the local hierarch, the one who was supposed to be a father and a bishop – that is to love, care and oversee, rather than destroy parishes.
As for the spiritual court process in general, it can only be described as a tragicomedy or parody of a real court. The scenes and the behind-the-scenes scenarios and background are known.
And the magnitude of the grudges of the local hierarch seem to be embedded even now in the cold announcement to the reverend clergy about the reinstatement of Fr. Kastanas. The reinstatement was effected by Archbishop Elpidophoros and the Eparchial Synod.
I remind you of what Metropolitan Methodios wrote in his announcement to the clergy:
“Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Boston
IEPA MHTPΟΠΟΛΗ ΒΟΣΤΩΝΗΣ
April 8, 2021
To the Reverend Clergy of the Metropolis of Boston. Reverend brothers,
This past Monday the Holy Eparchial Synod lifted the suspension that was imposed upon the Rev. Nicholas Kastanas and included him among the ranks of retired clergy. Compliant to this decision the aforementioned is permitted to participate in liturgical services after requesting and receiving canonical permission.
May the remainder of the Great Lent be for him an opportunity of self-reproach and heart filled, unfeigned repentance.
With Archpastoral love,
Metropolitan of Boston.”
And so, Methodios confirmed once again what was said about him on Thursday, October 8, 2020 at the meeting of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It was then that there was talk even to defrock him, but he was ‘saved’ by Archbishop Elpidophoros. However, he was given the serious penance of a three-month suspension from all liturgical services and sacraments, which ended on Christmas day.