“One Person and the Truth Consist of the Majority”
Abbott Sylvester the Hagiorite
The following is a letter written by A.P. Cromidas to the Editor of The National Herald. After Mr. Cromidas submitted this letter, he gave us a copy and asked if we would be interested in publishing it on this website. We told him that we would be honored to but would wait to see if The National Herald would publish it. After a lengthy period of time, they did publish the Letter to the Editor which renewed our confidence in their editorial board. However, we did find it unusual that the original title of the article submitted to us by the author was “Monastery Cover Up?” We urge you to read Paul Cromidas’ letter and then read our Editors’ Notes which follow.
Reader Demands More Reporting about Church
Author: A.P. Cromidas
Date Published: 3/1/2012
Publication: The National Herald (USA)
To the Editor:
Almost nine years ago in the April 5, 2003 edition of TNH, the newspaper reported that the Eparchial Synod of America had discussed “the monasteries established all over the U.S. by the former abbot from Mt. Athos, Fr. Ephraim. It has been said that some sort of fundamentalist movement with a cult philosophy has been advocated by the followers of Ephraim, and is having an impact among the clergy and theology students at Holy Cross School of Theology.”
Sadly, TNH has not done much follow-up on this important story in all the years since then, though your reporter, Theodore Kalmoukos, had even written about Ephraim some years before 2003. In late 2003, I also wrote an article on this matter, titled The Ephraim Question.
Is there some sort of cover-up going on by TNH?
A significant development, for instance, in recent years, has been the formation of a group of laypeople in Chicago, IL called the Greek Orthodox Christians for Truth and Reform, which says in its mission statement “that our current Hierarchs of the Metropolis of Chicago are complicit in allowing a cancerous cult to permeate the theology of our church.” Now, that’s a serious charge. Why hasn’t there been any reporting about this body by TNH? This group’s website is www.gotruthreform.org., where one can find poignant first-person accounts. But, there are clergy and laity in the Chicago area who are afraid to raise any questions about the Ephraim influence.
More recently, in your Dec.31, 2011 issue, we learned from Mr. Kalmoukos that a senior monk by the same name of Ephraim had been arrested and jailed in Greece for his alleged role a few years ago in the scandalous land-swap dealings between the Vatopedi Monastery of Mt. Athos and the Greek government.
Previous news reports had indicated that the monastery netted millions from these transactions at the expense of the Greek government. This Ephraim apparently out-ranks the American Ephraim, whose base is the St. Anthony monastery in Arizona. In an “analysis” column in that issue, Mr. Kalmoukos also observed that the Ephraim in the Greek jail had claimed that his monastery had supported financially “monasteries and institutions in America,” but that the American Archdiocese had said it was not aware of such support.
This matter of finances is one of the crucial concerns about the monasteries in the U.S. Shouldn’t TNH be delving into this?
Can one really believe that the 18 or so Ephraim monasteries in North America, including Canada, came into being and are sustained without the possibility of illegal or tainted money from the land swaps in Greece? (There are parishes in the Archdiocese that have trouble supporting a priest, yet virtually overnight those monasteries have sprung up in the U.S. and do not appear to have trouble financially. “God provides,” one monk told a questioner.)
Mr. Kalmoukos also revealed that the Archdiocese has a “commission” that is looking into the Ephraim monasteries here and has found among other things that “Ephraim’s teachings should be scrutinized, as they combine a dangerous mix of fundamentalism and theocracy.” But he tells us nothing more about that.
So, now we have come full-circle, in a way. Almost nine years ago the Synod said there was a troubling fundamentalist movement on the part of the Ephraimites and now the Archdiocese commission is reportedly saying the same thing. But the faithful remain largely in the dark about this matter.
Recently, it was also posted on the website www.pokrov.org that a study of the Ephraim controversy is being conducted by anthropologist Frances Kostarelos of Chicago. Shouldn’t TNH be writing about that, too?
Even more recently, a new group based in Atlanta has come on the scene, with a website: www.weareOrthodox.com. They, too, are expressing concerns about the Ephraim situation.
As though telling readers that they don’t have the “inside scoop” in another column in that issue, Mr. Kalmoukos engages in a version of Christmas “gossip columnist” when he tells us what Santa brought, “…to the big and small men of the cloth…” Several monastic mentions are made. He writes that one gift is “To Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago, a booklet of confession from Ephraim of Arizona.”
Instead of such teaser, insider gossip bits, it’s high time for TNH and Mr. Kalmoukos to take a leadership role in reporting in depth about the Ephraim situation in America.
The title of this compilation is a simple quote from the Abbott Sylvester the Hagiorite: “One person and the truth consist of the majority”. Surely he had a champion of our faith like A.P. Cromidas in mind when these prophetic words were written. Our beloved Greek Orthodox Church is in a state of decline. Instead of the Hierarchs leading, the laity is left to fend for themselves.
Recently Theodore Kalmoukos, a contributor to The National Herald wrote an article entitled “The Ephraim Saga is an Effrontery to Monasticism” (Kalmoukos, Theodore “The Ephraim Saga is an Effrontery to Monasticism” The National Herald, December 20, 2011, http://www.thenationalherald.com/article/53167). This article, which is worth reading, makes several observations that warrant further investigation by an educated laity. In his opening sentence he states:
The Saga of Abbot Ephraim of the Vatopedi Monastery
of Mount Athos that started in the fall of 2008 and
exposed the Unfortunate abuses of Orthodox Monasticism
underwent a new development this Christmas Season.
He is of course disclosing the news that Abbot Ephraim of Vatopedi was taken into custody and placed into a maximum security prison in Greece. Abbot Ephraim of Vatopedi and 32 others are awaiting trial in what is alleged to be the largest scandal in the history of Greece. You are probably asking yourselves why does this matter to the laity of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA)? Here are additional questions you must also ask yourself:
Where did all that money go? [For background on the Vatopedi Scandal please read the “Money-Money-Money” article on this website under the Article Archive section of this site or click here:
http://gotruthreform.org/money-part-one-continued. ] While Greece is on her financial knees, Vatopedi is swimming in cash. When the Greek government froze the assets of Vatopedi, they found 200,000,000 (two hundred million) Euros in bank accounts. “An ongoing inquiry found the monastery’s bank account held a healthy balance of 200 million”. http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/business/markets/on-property-a-red-flag-for-british-land-as-the-market-gets-bearish-7441982.html. What Mr. Kalmoukos and Mr. Cromidas ask is germane and appropriate. Was any of the money allegedly stolen from the nation of Greece brought into the United States for the purposes of:
1. Creating a well funded network of religious retreats masquerading as fundamentalist Athonite Monasteries;
2. Creating a shadow church that engages in an organized syndicatable manner trying to erode the credibility of the GOA and the priests who do not follow the fundamentalist teachings of Elder Ephraim of Arizona; and/or
3. Funding construction of monasteries and continuing to fund “orthodox theologians” who preach fundamentalist teachings to come into the jurisdiction of the GOA and promote their so-called “True Orthodoxy”?
We leave you with these questions to ponder. The effect on the faith, the laity and the future of the GOA hangs in the balance as the “Perfect Storm” of events has given fertile grounds to the proponents of heresy within our beloved Faith. Ultimately, the Church in America is dying a slow and painful death. Literally it is as if it has been cut 1000 times.
In the future, we will post links to and summaries of recent documentaries which have been seen on the Greek Government “ERT” channel. These will further explain the financial web of those who should be praying unceasingly on behalf of the faithful. Is Mr. Kalmoukos right, is “the Ephraim saga an Effrontery to Monasticism? Have we entered a new era in Orthodoxy where there is something similar to a “blood oath” given metaphorically by our Clergymen that causes them to take an indefensible position on any disgraceful act?