The National Herald - May 4-10, 2019
A Wasted Archiepiscopacy
after three tumultuous years, Archbishop Spyridon was unseated and the then Metropolitan of Vresthenia, Demetrios Trakatellis, elected to the throne of America, there was a collective sigh of relief. In August of 1999, after three unpleasant years of strife, a respected Hierarch and former Seminary professor well known to many clergy was going to return to America, a kindly shepherd to restore peace to a divided Church. It was his easiest task.The faithful were more than ready to stop the infighting and get on with the work of the Church. Now, nearly twenty years later, those sighs have turned to groans as the Archdiocese of America, a crown jewel of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, awaits the end of what can only be termed a wasted archiepiscopacy.
Demetrios’ reign should have been brief (he commenced at the age of seventy-two), more of an interregnum, to allow the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese to regain its footing. Instead, he has insisted on clinging to the prestige of his office for nearly two decades, even as the prestige of the Church has been severely damaged and its institutional framework allowed to rot.
Hellenic College/Holy Cross lies in financial ruins. The Saint Nicholas Shrine at the World Trade Center, whose construction is at a standstill, is a national embarrassment and source of ridicule. The Archdiocese itself has been forced for the first and only time to mortgage the real estate legacies of Athenagoras and Iakovos in order to bail out gross and as yet unaccounted-for mismanagement.
In the midst of all this, with numerous requests from His All Holiness to retire, the ninety-one-year-old Archbishop stubbornly resists. Rather than heed the generous advice of the Ecumenical Patriarch – to leave respectably and with a shred of dignity, Demetrios has opted to “kick the can” as far down the road as possible. And to what end? To whose benefit? Apparently to no identifiable purpose whatsoever, and to the benefit of only Demetrios himself, who still pretends to be some kind of “ethnarch.” The truth is that no one cares what Archbishop Demetrios thinks about Greece, “Macedonia,” or Cyprus, least of all American politicians (not to mention the Greeks and Cypriots themselves). To imagine otherwise is sycophancy at best and delusion at worst.
Twenty years, by most reckoning, is a generation, and there has been real generational damage to the Church. A brief glance at the Archdiocese’s own statistics tells the sad tale (https://www.goarch.org/-/2016-parish-registry-statistics). All signs of Church growth are down except for one, funerals. If an honest history of this period is ever written, Archbishop Demetrios will be remembered poorly, because he sacrificed the health of his flock for the sake of his ego.
The new Archbishop, whoever he may be and whenever he arrives, has a truly monumental task ahead of him. To rebuild the Church in America is no easy proposition, and it will only be made harder the longer we wait.
The author of this article, a known member of our church and community, requested anonymity in the publication of this text. The National Herald granted said anonymity to them in the belief that the contents of the article assist in the goal of informing our readers on an important issue. The advancement of knowledge and information to our community members far outweighs, in our eyes, the need to to release the name of the author. We are open to printing an opposing viewpoint as well, should we receive one.
[ The National Herald - May 4-10, 2019 - p. 14 ]
[ The National Herald
May 1, 2019 ]