Open Letter/Answer to the letter of Mr. Simos Dimas
Dated 29 April 1998, published on "Voithia"
Mr. Simos Dimas,
The letter of your resignation from the Archdiocesan Council was a source of great sorrow to me, but it also earned my indignation. Presented pretentiously as an expression of your sincere convictions about our Church, it clearly aims at the projection of views which distort the truth of certain ecclesiastical facts, as wells as of the circumstances under which these events occurred in order to undermine the Archbishop and his leadership. This open letter is written as an answer to the views expounded in your letter.
"A Pastor without love."
Your letter begins with this scandalous and totally unacceptable statement about our Archbishop – the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. Instead of simply stating that you disagree with him on various church matters and resigning honorably and silently, you proceed with a personal condemnation and a vicious attack against him. Τo state that you find yourself unable to work with someone is acceptable. To accuse him of lacking in love and basing this on the fact that he does not share your views, however, is totally unacceptable. The only thing that you achieve by doing this is to prove that you are the one who lacks love and who ought to be denounced (at least for lack of respect, if not for audacity and insolence, since the person you accuse is your Archbishop). Such behavior is unbecoming for a Greek Orthodox Christian.
Mr. Dimas, how can you forget that given his position, the Archbishop is the one who can see and understand many more things than you and I within the Church? How can you doubt that he knows better than all of us what the Church’s needs are, and what is best regarding future Church progress, since he has been entrusted with this heavy responsibility by God Himself? Why do you pretend that your view represents the majority of Church members who are, in fact, clearly on the Archbishop’s side and have a radically different view than yours? Is your view the product of your disappointment over the fact that your own selfish motives, and those of a few like-minded friends of yours, are being cast aside as incompatible with our Church?
The accusation which you hurl against our Archbishop that he allegedly "lacks in love" stands in direct contrast to reality, i.e., to the vision of the Archbishop which is demonstrated in his extraordinary efforts and in his obvious achievements during the course of his archiepiscopal career, so far. It proves you have self-seeking interests which make you forget the many positive steps which have been taken by our Archbishop and which have given new breath and a new perspective in the life of our Church.
I do not need to remind you of every positive act of His Eminence. But allow me to remind you of the recent establishment of a special scholarship fund for the seminarians in our Archdiocese who will soon be relieved of the heavy financial burden which has been causing them unnecessary anxiety for years and has been mercilessly interrupting steady progress in their training. The Archbishop’s personal interest in the theological school and his paternal affection toward the students (revealed by his frequent visits, as well as by his availability to all, professors and students alike) are unique and unprecedented. They portray a Shepherd with real love and affection who is ready to sacrifice himself for his flock.
The renewal of the Archdiocese is most evident, both on the capital construction and on the institutional side, as all students have seen with their own eyes during their recent visits there. We all witnessed that His Eminence has been laying the foundations for more efficient communication between his bishops and parishes and the holy Archdiocese in New York, as well as for more effective treatment of the various pastoral needs in our Church today. The new Archdiocesan departments (each with its own special ministry) and updated equipment are tremendously hopeful signs of future progress.
It is obvious to everyone that your accusation of an alleged "lack of love" against the Archbishop is nothing but a smokescreen, which conceals the true character of your statements, the true intention of which is to poison the minds of uninformed faithful who have no firsthand knowledge of Church matters, but who get their information from a very biased press and other modern media. Your statements are purely subjective and fall in line with those of a few apostates who attempt to rend asunder the unity of our Church, and who attempt to disrupt Her steady progress. These people alone are the ones you represent, not the many as you pretend, and on behalf of whom you claim, "We open to you the window of our soul..."
"Hellenic College/Holy Cross (HC/HC)"
Your statements that the changes made at HC/HC were made "devoid of love... callous and insensitive" are totally without merit. At this point, you seem to condemn yourself. Are you forgetting that you were a member of the Archdiocesan Legal Committee, which reviewed those changes and prepared an official report concerning the reassignment of certain priest-professors? This report said absolutely nothing about a "lack of love" or "callousness," about which you now bitterly decry, and expressed precisely the opposite of your present complaints. Contrary to your current assertions, the report itself stated that the reassignment of those priest-professors had no relation to the Disciplinary Committee and the alleged homosexual incident, and that they were rather due to other legitimate reasons. Consequently, that you now put the blame on the Archbishop betrays complete lack of honesty on your part, since you state things and counterstate them.
Your assertions that His Eminence did not display any interest in the personal or financial wellbeing of the reassigned priests are totally inaccurate. The public discussions between His Eminence and various associates of these priests (which took place at Weston, Massachusetts on December 21, 1997 and which are recorded by the website Voithia) disclosed that the Archbishop had offered them other alternatives with equal financial parameters. I was there on that occasion, and I also heard him say that he had made arrangements proposed by the priests themselves, arrangements that they failed to keep.
Mr. Dimas, you must not conceal the truth that these priests were responsible for various problems involving professors and students at the Theological School. They had repeatedly been forewarned throughout the preceding academic year that there would be consequences in the event that they continued exhibiting their unacceptable behavior. Perhaps the strongest warning was issued by His Eminence in his commencement speech to the graduating class of 1997, which I heard with my own ears. Unfortunately, these priests did not heed the words of their Spiritual Father. Thus, they incurred the commensurate consequences, which were not devoid of love and sensitivity, at all, as you erroneously assert. They were immensely charitable and humane.
In light of the above, how dare you reprimand His Eminence by alleging that he refused to grant them absolution? Do you really think that it is okay to grant absolution to those who disobey sacred authority and remain intransigent and unrepentant about their own personal preferences? Do you not think it is just a little unacceptable for you to decide whether or not the Spiritual Father of our Church should grant absolution? Who gave you such a right that you dare to judge even our Spiritual Father? Do you not know that as a layman, even though you are an attorney, you do not have the authority to judge matters that are under spiritual jurisdiction? The position you have taken is a glaring indication that you are guilty not only of disobedience, but also of trying to usurp spiritual authority, charges for which you ought to be brought before a spiritual court. Stop deceiving yourself. You are not on the same spiritual plane as, nor do you share the same authority with, the Archbishop. Your personal frustration, which is derived from the thwarted objectives you share with your friends, has absolutely nothing to do with the propriety of the Archbishop’s actions, or with his administrative vision for the Church.
"Canons of the Church, Obedience and the Evil Laymen."
Your statements about the above-mentioned items further prove your deliberate efforts to twist matters in order to support your own slanderous charges and luciferian accusations against the Archbishop. Did you really not understand what His Eminence meant by what he did or did not say in the cases which you mention? Can it be true that you did not understand why the Archbishop, the Chancellor, and the Bishop to whom you refer emphasized the holy canons of our Church and our obligation as laity to obey our Church leaders? Why do you consider it strange or blameworthy that our leaders remind us of the sacred canons, which we should uphold in all matters ecclesiastical? Concerning those lay people who the Bishop characterized as "evil," why do you not tell us who they were and what they were after? Were they perhaps members of GOAL or other like-minded people, who sought to impose secular rules and schemes on the administration and spiritual province of the Church? The silence of the Archbishop, in this case, demonstrates both sensitivity and wisdom, i.e., precisely the opposite of the "power-oriented theology" which you accuse him of practicing.
Although I was not present at your discussion with the Archbishop and do not know the context of his statement that he "is not a theologian," I am not so naive as to believe that His Eminence meant this in a literal sense, as you vainly assert. As a theological student, I would like to inform you that this expression is idiomatic and means the opposite of what you try to attribute to it. It implicitly rejects a merely academic or abstract, or even hypocritical theology which is not rooted in reality, much like the one that you apparently uphold. What else could you mean when you remove Scripture, Worship, Tradition and Love away from the context of the specific relationship of Spiritual Father and sons? I fear that you reference to the three renowned Russian theologians (as it appears you do not know that they also disagreed among themselves) is both out of place and indicative of the fact that you are devoid of elementary theological education.
It is not the Archbishop, then, who "reduces our faith to a set of rules to be applied to frighten the clergy... and his brothers and sisters in Christ," as you write. It is you and your like-minded friends who exercise intimidation on your brothers and sisters in the Lord by distorting the word and actions of our Chief Pastor and his collaborators, trespassing the sacred canons and rejecting our sacred Orthodox tradition which he guards and represents. By staining the venerable person of our God-appointed Archbishop, you become enemies of the Body of Christ, God’s holy Church and, consequently, of all your brothers and sisters in Christ.
Once again, you distort reality and blame the Archbishop for not consenting to the unacceptable wrongdoings of the self-called "leaders" who, either out of ignorance or out of pure self-interest, promote factional, anti-ecclesiastical and schismatic activities. According to class notes on Canon Law which I was provided with at the School, "those who establish an illicit assembly in defiance of their own bishop are to be deposed if they are clergymen and excommunicated if laymen." You prosecute our Archbishop because he did not send a priest to bless the meeting of self-appointed leaders, as if their transgression was something correctable, and as if it was a recent event that took place in good faith. Have you forgotten that this movement started long before the Archbishop was even enthroned, and that its apostasy has become institutionalized in a systematic fashion?
I am not in a position to know whether or not the former Archbishop is behind these so-called leaders, as you claim that the present Archbishop has alleged. I do find the "silence" of the former Archbishop quite curious and scandalous, however. Many of us expected him to stand by his successor, and to act as he did previously against the similar and fraternal organization, OCL; in other words, to condemn such anti-ecclesiastical activities and to admonish with his words the members of GOAL who happen to belong to the circle of his close associates. Finally, "the lack of reason love" should be attributed elsewhere and not to our Archbishop.
Discord and Dissent
Here it seems obvious that you underestimate the intelligence of our omogeneia, saying that GOAL does not seek to establish a schismatic, autocephalous and dehellenized Church, and that the Archbishop deliberately misinforms us. But you know very well that this is GOAL’s ultimate goal. I challenge you to flip through the pages of VOITHIA so that you can see what misinformation, distortion of truth and total absence of decency and human kindness mean.
Your assertions concerning an alleged coercion of priests to sign statements in support of the Archbishop is exclusively based on the wild imagination of the well known "newspaper" which systematically and arbitrarily fights against the blameless person of our Archbishop. Does it really seem strange to you that the Chancellor has seen fit to ask the priests of the Archdiocese to state their position in the face of the hypocritical and divisive invasion of the so-called American leaders? It is simply wishful thinking to entertain the view that the Mother Church needs to be informed by alleged supporters of the Patriarchate who fully and bitterly oppose the Archbishop. Do you really except that such an utterly schizophrenic position could be considered acceptable?
Also fraudulent is your claim that the Editor of the "National Herald" is committed to publishing letters critical of the anti-archiepiscopal stance which was adopted by that newspaper with the same narrow-mindedness as its comrade in arms, Voithia. They never published my letters of protest which I sent them supplying full explanation and proof. Why do you blame the Archbishop for the objective accounts of the newspaper, "Proini," and the illuminating critical insights of the website "Alithia?" Your one-sided and shifty analysis of events inevitably drives you to your senseless and ridiculous statement that the Archbishop is anti-Patriarchal! This alone is sufficient proof to all of your dark luciferian motives and your hidden self-seeking ways.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate
No one can believe your excessive praise of our Patriarchate because it is manifestly embedded with the poison of slanderous defamation of our Archbishop. There is no way your words can persuade anyone, neither the omogeneia, nor those heroic and unyielding Phanariots who are not so easily fooled. Do not try to credit the Archbishop with the sophistries of others regarding our Metropolitans. It is self-evident to any well-intentioned Christian that the elevation of the ex-assistant Bishops to the office of Metropolitan represents a personal recognition and award of their work by the Mother Church, whereas the decision to refrain from elevating the bishoprics to Metropolitanates at this time preserves the unity of the holy Archdiocese of America, in accordance with its charter and its particular place within a pluralistic and multi-cultural society. It is totally inadmissible to allow any misinterpretations of this reality with divisive innuendoes, especially at the Archbishop’s expense. As regards your other slanderous and ridiculous disclosures about "black holes" and "pressures to send money" do not accomplish anything at all, but rather serve to place your professional honesty and status at risk.
The Letter of February 20, 1997
In reading all that you say about your above-mentioned letter, as well as about the reasons and the prospects of your resignation, I cannot help but think of those terrifying words of our Lord: "Are you betraying your Teacher with a kiss?" After all this, how can you characterize your action as a loving one, and how can you kid yourself by believing that we all need to hear whatever you have to teach us about liturgical catechism, the monarchical episcopate, its relation to the visible Church and ... so many other lofty and splendid topics that dazzle the mind even of a theologian? How can you speak about such things and at the same time spew poison by accusing your Shepherd with sacred but misappropriated words? The only suggestion I have for you is repentance and conversion; otherwise, I am afraid that what the Risen Lord said to Saul applies to you as well : "It hurts you to kick against the goads."
May 10, 1998
Evan C. Lambrou Journalist,
Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology
[ EKKLISIA | www.ekklisia.org/elet-5-10.htm - May 10, 1998 ]