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Metropolitan Ieronymos of Larisa and Platamon officiates at a Vesper Service in a parish of his Metropolis. (Photo provided by the Matropolis of Larisa)
BOSTON – Many things have been said and written – and continue to be said and written – about the chapel of the Saints Isidoros of Lykavittos in Athens, and its priest, Fr. Demetrios Loupasakis, who has established form of monastic brotherhood. The National Herald requested an interview with His Eminence Metropolitan Ieonymos of Larisa and Platamon, who has undertaken three years research and hearings regarding the issue. His Eminence Ieonymos, who has also studied law, granted the following interview to TNH.
TNH: Your Eminence what are your thoughts regarding the issue of the chapel of the St. Isidoros of Lykavittos and everything that is taking place there under Fr. Dimitrios Loupasakis, since you conducted a three-year investigation on the matter and submitted a multi-page report?
Metr. Ieronymos: Since I am bound by a confidentiality protocol, I cannot reveal what I examined and proved with my inquiry. I just want to stress that because the official title of the inquiry is ‘written investigative proposal,’ it does not mean that it is something subjective. No investigator, much an ecclesiastical one, can decide on his own. This is the job of the collective bodies, the courts. Each investigator, however, collects the evidentiary material, processes it, and proposes either the placement of the investigative file in the archive, constituting the acquittal of the accused, or the further judicial investigation of the case if offenses are established. In the case of Fr. Dimitrios Loupasakis, it was not possible to dismiss the case and place it into the archives, as the evidence was overwhelming. That is why His Beatitude, the Archbishop Ieronymos, of Athens and All Greece, as soon as he received my inquiry, issued a bill of indictment and introduced the case to the Episcopal Court of the Holy Archdiocese of Athens, where, however, after the first adjournment, it was not discussed again.
From this alone, but also from the fact that a long time had elapsed, one understands the strategies of some to avoid or even cancel the whole process, as Fr. Dimitrios Loupasakis, if he were tried, would probably not have avoided the canonical punishments, i.e. penalties based on the Holy Canons that punish the acts for which he is accused. In other words, if he believed in his innocence, he should prefer to go to trial in order to overturn the indictment. He did not do that, so from a legal point of view, we could say that we have an indirect confession of guilt.
TNH: From everything that has leaked from your inquiry, you in fact had asked for the immediate treatment of the phenomenon for which you used austere expressions.
Metr. Ieronymos: What matters is that today we are suffering the consequences of the problems that were not addressed then. Some have become audacious to the point of horribly perverting even the well-established and traditional ways of Orthodox Worship, in order to cultivate personal worship and cheap sensationalism. Take for example the ‘stole’ they placed on a wooden effigy of Saint Demetrius during the recent celebration of his feast day. For seventeen centuries the Thessalonians, who celebrate the Saint, did not think of doing something like this. Were they lacking in piety? On the contrary, they strictly adhere to the traditions and preserve the Orthodox spirit, which we do not see happening in the chapel of St. Isidore. In fact, on Sunday October 30, something even more provocative happened, which some people ignore ‘in the fine print’. Fr. Dimitrios was away in Chania (I wonder, did he get permission from the Holy Archdiocese of Athens?) and the priest who filled in for him (was the Holy Archdiocese of Athens aware of who substitutes for Fr. Dimitrios during his absence?) undermined during his sermon the value and importance of the Holy Canons in the life of the Church (perhaps because, based on the Holy Canons, the illegal wrongdoings of those who act together on the hill of Lykavittos have been proven?), saying that they are written by people and, therefore, we should pay more attention to the miracle and less in the texts of men. In this way, he abolished what we in the Church call divine inspiration of the Sacred Texts.
We all know that all our texts were written by humans. Christ wrote nothing. However, we all believe, abiding by the decisions of the Ecumenical and Local Synods, the Theology of our Church and the teachings of our Fathers, that these texts are divinely inspired, as they were written with the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. In Lykavittos, however, divine inspiration does not suit them. Therefore, the Orthodox ethos and mindset is lightheartedly altered and heresy is declared, something that systematically happens in the way in which miracles are talked about. Our Church’s teachings on miracles are different, and what we see happening there is completely different. The words of our Lord: “See that you don’t tell this to anyone” (Mark 1:44), or “blessed are those who have not seen and believed” (John 6:29) have not only been forgotten, but brutally abused.
TNH: But why has it taken so long for the matter to be dealt with, reaching its current point that the institutional representation of the Church, in this case His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos, under whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction he serves, does not dare to deal with it decisively?
Metr. Ieronymos: His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece has a great love for the Holy Clergy and wants to behave like a father. He does this even at personal cost. Who am I to judge His Beatitude? I admire his principles and his efforts, not only as Archbishop, but also as Pastor of the Orthodox Church from the very beginning. It is simply that many times this is exploited by those who act impetuously and without a spiritual background. This is also the case with the chapel of the Saints Isidore, where some people who have communications ability, wanting to offer their ‘services’, rushed to interpret the position of His Beatitude as they deemed fit, considering His kindness and patience as an act of approval of what was happening there. Moreover, they attempted with maligning characterizations and slanders, to hurt those who dared to speak with a sense of their pastoral responsibility on the problem of Lykavittos. His Eminence Metropolitan Nektarios of Argolis was a victim of this tactic and, as of late, so was my modest person. They should keep in mind, however, that when some issues develop into problematic situations, then the solution is given by the Church deliberating in Synod. And His Beatitude has many times demonstrated His commitment and obedience to our Synodical governance.
TNH: Why didn’t Metropolitan Ioannis of Thermopylae proceed years ago with the judicial process, which had already started at the suggestion of the Archbishop Ieronymos?
Metr. Ieronymos: Because, obviously, what we hear happening today, happened then, that is, some self-appointed people, many times priests who are not acquainted with the Archdiocese and its problems, appear as ‘mediators’, promising bloodless solutions. I pray that at least I am worthy of witnessing this miracle.
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