Analysis: The Archdiocese Needs Structural-Administrative Reorganization

The National Herald

(Photo: TNH/Kostas Bej)

It is the consensus among the vast majority of the faithful of the Archdiocese of America that today’s administrative structure and organization of the Archdiocese, that is to say, the existing system of Metropolitanates and the Metropolitans, has failed in practice.

The failure was vividly proven by the dire condition of bankruptcy, both spiritual and financial, the Archdiocese found itself during the tenure of former Archbishop Demetrios.

Certainly the main responsibility lies firstly with Demetrios because he was the ‘First’, the Shepherd per se of the Archdiocese, but the responsibility of the Metropolitans is no less significant. They are trying today to dodge blame, invoking ‘curses’ on Demetrios’ head, who they insist kept them in the dark, and saying that they didn’t know what was going on.

Why didn’t they know? What kind of Synodic members were they? What kind of co-administrators?

With the establishment of the Metropolitanate system the Archdiocese unfortunately became a “scattered-village” with nine small Archdioceses and “nine little archbishops” who brought the Church in America to its knees. On the one hand it was Demetrios’ total administrative incompetence and indecisiveness, but on the other hand it was also the extreme indifference of the Metropolitans to the point acedia – with just a few, very slight voices of resistance – that brought about the total shipwreck.

Here is the legacy: The headquarters buildings of the Archdiocese are mortgaged for a bank loan of $7.5 million dollars. The nave of St. Nicholas at Ground Zero is in an abandoned half-built state, a constant reminder to the entire world of the Church’s incompetence and shame. The School of Theology is on its ‘death bed’ to the point that it almost lost the academic accreditation – and its very low number of students in both schools, Hellenic College and Holy Cross, of only 126 students is nightmarish.

The way we are going it seems the professors, instructors, secretaries, and the heads of the various offices will soon exceed the number of students. As far as the finances are concerned, just thinking about it is troubling.

And despite all that, those who are responsible for the tragic wreckage of the theological school have the audacity to continue to want to influence its course instead of submitting their resignations en mass in order to provide a clean slate to Archbishop Elpidophoros, who has found himself in a general chaos.

A very respected and loving person close to my heart has told me many times, “where is Archbishop Elpidophoros supposed to start, from where?”

Unquestionably the current structural and administrative system of the Archdiocese with its Metropolises, is ineffective, if not dangerous, because we have come to the point that some Metropolitans are threatening the unity of the Archdiocese with each one going in whatever direction he wants.

On the contrary they are simply a strange mixture of auxiliary bishops and titular Metropolitans. The only ruling Shepherd is the Archbishop because the Archdiocese of America is one unified and undivided Ecclesiastical Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne with one Shepherd, the Archbishop, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch.

Today we are sustaining a strange ecclesiological monstrosity, the following situation: From Monday to Saturday the Metropolitans are commemorated as shepherds (ποιμενάρχες). When the Archbishop happens to visit a parish in any given Metropolis on a Sunday or on a Feast day he is commemorated as shepherd (ποιμενάρχης) which is the correct way, and the local Metropolitan as simply hierarch (ιεράρχου).

Technically only the Archbishop should wear the hierarchical mitre and hold the archpastoral crozier because he is the par excellence Shepherd (Ποιμενάρχης), the First (ο Πρώτος) or the ruling Bishop, if you wish, of the entire Archdiocese. The faithful throughout the United States wonder about why Archbishop Elpidophoros’ name is not commemorated in their parishes but only in the Direct Archdiocesan District of New York.

When the Archbishop is present only he should hold the archpastoral staff and nobody else. I observed with much attention that when Archbishop Elpidophoros visited the Metropolises of Atlanta and San Francisco, Metropolitans Alexios and Gerasimos, respecting the correct order of the Church, didn’t hold their staff, but only the Archbishop did. On the other hand, Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago wouldn’t go anywhere without it despite the fact his Archbishop was present. He did something else more serious: He entered into the fields of the Autocephalous Church of Cyprus by replying on a topic that one of its Metropolitans had commented on. It seems that we have resolved all our problems here and can now rush to comment on the issues of the Church of Cyprus. On the other hand the Metropolitan of Detroit didn’t even participate in the enthronement of Archbishop Elpidophoros last June, invoking illness as an excuse – it was said that he was enduring abdominal problems.

The other one from Boston has not held a local Clergy-Laity Congress or given a financial report for three years as I have written many times, but he recently announced that he is going to provide one in early October. Former Archbishop Demetrios didn’t dare to say anything because Methodios was supporting him in an unprejudiced manner in everything. He even honored Demetrios at the annual dinner of the New England parishes, praising and applauding him for his twenty year “fruitful” ministry, evoking only laughter in all the prudent people in attendance who were aware of the erebus chaos that Demetrios and his accessories left behind.

We are talking of the well-known tactics of bishops trying to be a Mini-Archbishop Iakovos, but squandering what they inherited from him, torturing and destroying parishes and institutions.

It is the absolute prerogative of Patriarch Bartholomew to reorganize the structure of the Archdiocese of America by abolishing the Metropolises and also consolidating the resultant dioceses because they cost a lot of money to the People of God. This way the work of Archbishop Elpidophoros will become easier without Metropolitans undercutting him, without allowing the people who are co-responsible for the bankruptcy of our Church in America to be able to slam the breaks on reform and progress.