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United States

Dismissed Professors Suing Hellenic College-Holy Cross

February 16, 2021

BOSTON – Two of six professors recently dismissed by Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Dr. Evie Zachariades-Holmper, professor of Greek Language Liturgical and Patristic Greek, and Fr. Emmanuel Clapsis, professor of Dogmatics, are suing the School because of their dismissal. They were dismissed in August in a decision made by the Board of Trustees due the School’s financial crisis, declaring “financial exigency” as the reason, which was revealed by TNH on August 14, 2020.

Four of the six dismissed professors had tenure, including the two who are suing the School. Dr. Holmberg had managed to get dual tenure at Hellenic College and also in Holy Cross. His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America informed the members of the Eparchial Synod of the lawsuit during a teleconference meeting on February 3, when he also announced the exclusion of Metropolitan Methodios of Boston from meetings of the Board of Trustees of the School.

As was reported in last week’s edition: “Metropolitan Methodios of Boston has been excluded from the Board of Trustees of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, reportedly because of legal actions contrary to the interests of the School. There is an official legal opinion on the issue. It is noted here that this is the first time in the history of the School of Theology that a hierarch of the Archdiocese is prohibited from participating in its Board of trustees.”

The Archbishop provided to the members of the Synod a copy of the letter the lawyers of the School had sent to President George Cantonis dated January 25, 2021. The lawyers advised the School that Metropolitan Methodios not participate in the meetings of the Board of trustees of the School. The National Herald has obtained a copy of the letter in which it is revealed that Metropolitan Methodios has written a letter supporting the allegations of “discrimination” by professor Holmberg against the School.

The letter also notes that initially Holmberg filed the complaint before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, but the School’s lawyer informed the School that “we have been informed by Counsel for Professor Holmberg that they will be removing the case from the MCAD and filing it in the Norfolk Superior Court.”

The School’s lawyer also stated clearly that “as a result of this letter, it appears that the Metropolitan is adverse to the position of the College, which denies any discrimination against Professor Holmberg. The Metropolitan’s position is in conflict with that of the College.”

TNH has also learned that both Holmberg and Clapsis sent complaints to the Academic Agencies that are responsible for the accreditation of the School.

It appears that Metropolitan Methodios wrote his letter while he was interim president of Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology after the ouster of Fr. Christopher Metropulos from the School’s presidency. TNH has learned that there is no copy of Methodios’ letter in the School’s archive. Holmberg is using Methodios’ letter to support her claims against the School.

The National Herald is in a position to know that Fr. Thomas FitzGerald, former interim Dean of Holy Cross Theological School, also wrote a letter in favor of professor Holmberg and against the School. Fr. FitzGerald continues to be a professor at the School.

TNH made a telephone call to Dr. Holmberg in order to afford her the opportunity to make comments and tell her side of the story, but she declined by saying, “I don’t want to discuss the issue.”

In a telephone interview with Metropolitan Methodios the following conversation transpired:

TNH: I am calling about the following issue: We are going to publish about the lawsuit of professor Holmberg against the Theological School. In her complaint is attached a letter of yours. Would you like to comment?

Metropolitan Methodios: Theodore, that letter was sent last October to FitzGerald, the then-Dean of the Theological  School. There was no lawsuit at that time. If she files a lawsuit with Clapsis – they both are suing – I don’t get involve in these things.

I respected the Archbishop the other day, as you wrote in the newspaper, that I shouldn’t participate in the meetings of the Board of Trustees until this issue clears and I told him gladly.”

TNH: But now that you know that professor Holmberg is suing the School are you thinking of retracting your letter?

Metropolitan Methodios: Clapsis also is suing, not only Holmberg. Why retract the letter?

TNH: Because she is using it against the School and you are a hierarch of the Church.

Metropolitan Methodios: The hierarchs of the Church are not permitted to express their opinion to the Dean of the School? Why retract the letter? ‘The last errancy will be worse than the first.’”

TNH called Cantonis, who told us that “because this is potential litigation we are advised by legal councilors to make no comments.”

The National Herald left messages on the mobile phones of Fr. Clapsis and Fr. FitzGerald, but they did not respond.   

The entire letter of the lawyers of the School follows:

“Dear President Cantonis:

The College has asked for advice regarding the participation of His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston in the Board of Trustees’ meetings, as a result of his sending a letter in support of the allegations of Professor Holmberg and the likelihood of him being a witness in the case.

In this matter, Professor Holmberg is challenging the declaration by the Board of Trustees of the fiscal exigency and is also alleging discrimination by the College against her. In her complaint before the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, Professor Holmberg has attached a letter from the Metropolitan in support of her allegations against the College. We have been informed by Counsel for Professor Holmberg that they will be removing the case from the MCAD and filing it in the Norfolk Superior Court. As a result of this letter, it appears that the Metropolitan is adverse to the position of the College, which denies any discrimination against Professor Holmberg. The Metropolitan’s position is in conflict with that of the College.

Consequently, it would not be appropriate for His Eminence to participate in any Board [meetings about] the case by Father Clapsis, who is also suing the College. I note that Professor Holmberg and Father Clapsis are represented by the same attorney, and Father Clapsis has made the same allegations contained in the complaint of Professor Holmberg.

As the attorneys for the College in this matter, we recommend that His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios recuse himself from the Board Meetings at this time.”

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