BOSTON – The priests of the Metropolis of Boston, in a meeting initiated by the president of the Clergy Association, Fr. Athanasios Chininis, presiding priest at the Holy Transfiguration Church of Lowell, MA, discussed during their regular meeting the latest ecclesiastical developments, principally, the suspension by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Metropolitan Methodios of Boston from all church services.
The invitation, sent by e-mail from Fr. Chininis to the priests on Monday, October 12, to the meeting the next day, Tuesday, in the community of St. Demetrios in the city of Weston, Massachusetts, among other things noted, “Dear Brothers, when we called the Brotherhood meeting weeks ago we were focused on planning how we could support one another in our ministry. The pandemic has forced us to rethink many aspects of parish ministry, pastorally, administratively, liturgically, and educationally. It is very important that we find direction through the brotherly love and support we share. While these needs remain, the past few days have brought to our attention new, immediate topics that affect our ministry and we will take the time to discuss them as we share in brotherly fellowship together. As a reminder, please join us for our regularly scheduled monthly Brotherhood meeting, Tuesday, October 13 at 10:30 AM at the St. Demetrios parish in Weston. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Adelphikos, Fr. Tom Chininis.”
Fr. Athanasios Tsininis did not respond to messages from The National Herald. Fr. Theodoros Stylianopoulos, however, said that, "in general, the plenary session of the Association agreed to write two letters, one to the Metropolitan of Boston and the other one to the Hierarchs of the Eparchial Synod of our Church in America.”
The National Herald has learned that about 45 priests attended, many of whom are retired. The two who spoke most extensively were Fr. Alkiviadis Kalivas, professor emeritus of Liturgics, and Fr. Theodoros Stylianopoulos, professor emeritus of New Testament. Fr. Kalivas, however, was the one who spoke at length about the decisions of the Patriarchate, the Holy Synod, and Archbishop Elpidophoros. It should be noted here that Fr. Kalivas is the father-in-law of the president of the Clergy Association, Fr. Athanasios Chininis.
Metropolitan Methodios, who is suspended, did not attend the meeting of the Clergy Association, which he usually attends and addresses. Fr. Barbas, the chancellor and close co-worker of Methodios, explained to the Clergy Association that the Metropolitan did not know why the Holy Synod disciplined him with suspension and that he received from the Patriarchate the official announcement.
The same tactics, pretending that nobody knows what happened, were used in communications with lay members of communities and business people who asked. It was also said that Metropolitan Methodios learned about his suspension by reading it in The National Herald.
It was decided by the Clergy Association to send two letters, one to Metropolitan Methodios in which to convey that the priests are on his side and the other to Archbishop Elpidophoros with the signatures of the priests, and to be written in a respectful manner. Fr. Theodoros Stylianopoulos undertook to write a letter to the Archbishop and the Eparchial Synod.
One priest in particular was constantly talking about the pension plan, while he also raised the issue of the Ecumenical Patriarchate's authority to suspend the Charter of the Archdiocese of America without asking the priests, as well as the issue of the suspension of Metropolitan Methodios. Another priest reportedly said "I am a new priest and I have to tell you the truth that I am afraid to sign anything because I must think about the future, so do not pressure me,” which demonstrated to the others the need to show respect to the Patriarch and the Archbishop.
Another newly appointed priest in a Massachusetts parish said that we should not collect signatures because that would only make the situation of Metropolitan Methodios worse.