By dogcatcher on February 25th, 2012
  Open Letter to the Faithful of the Archdiocese-Reflections of Sorrow and Concern Dear Mr. * There are few individuals in my estimation who possess the integrity and faith I have observed in you. Therefore I trust you in sharing some personal reflections. Reflections of sorrow and concern for the church we both have grown to love and cherish. I have recently become aware of the difficulties that have occurred in your parish of St. George and I respect your decision to find the truth and declare it to those that will listen. Your vigilance in seeking truth and justice is commendable but most likely unrealistic since it appears that our church has had a past history of sweeping things under the carpet. I pray your efforts are not overlooked. We need a cleansing within the church from top to bottom but unfortunately we have no Chrysostom’s to speak up and take the heat. I am presently very saddened by the state of affairs our church finds itself in today. There are many Greek Americans in the Chicago land area that have left the church and others will also as time goes by because of the corruption and changes taking place within our Church as a whole. The visibility of the clergy who openly lack the dignity and respect of their position and the hierarchs who place themselves above the well being of the church in order to protect their own positions of power and authority, then lastly the emergence of the Ephraimite monasteries which are cultic and financially corrupt will in my estimation be successful in dismantling the church as we know it. It is unfortunate that clergy scandals have been and most likely will always be an issue the church will have to deal with. Hopefully we will become more transparent as a church and at the same time we must remember to respect the laws of our country. Of course we must remove a cancer when we are aware of its existence but it must be done properly. Presently our Archdiocese sexual abuse policy declares the cleric guilty until proven innocent. This goes against the moral fiber of our American justice system, it places the church in a precarious situation every time a cleric is accused and it destroys the future ministry of a cleric who just may be innocent. As you are aware the disrespect the laity holds toward the hierarchy of the Chicago Metropolis is astounding. This attitude affects the ministry of each parish priest and it also contributes to the undermining of the church communities as a whole. A majority of clergy in the Chicago Metropolis have developed a cynical distrust of their Metropolitan and Bishop. Despotic rule without any compassion or concern other than for the Metropolitan or Bishop’s own personal well being and position is the norm in the Chicago Metropolis. It is a wonder that more clergy have not left the priesthood or fallen into compromising situations. Presently there are clergy seeking a way out of their positions due to despair brought on by experiences of mental cruelty and abuse while others have just given up and only go through the motions. Resentment is quite high among most of the clergy. Now let us look at the monasteries established by Fr. Ephraim. It is truly awe inspiring to see the birth of Orthodox monasticism in the America. For many this has been an answered prayer long awaited. The visual observance gives the impression that these are the same type of holy communities that have been passed down throughout the ages within our church. It is true that many of the sacred traditions can be found within these monasteries but it is also obvious that there exists a frightening difference. There is a cultic milieu surrounding each of these monastic communities along with an infatuation with the need to acquire finances in great excess of their needs. The growth alone of these communities throughout the country makes one wonder as to how and why these communities have come to be. These communities could not have been created only through the good will of Orthodox Christians. There must be another source for financial support and if there is, why? If our Archdiocese has around 500 parishes or more then why would clergy who are spiritual children of Fr. Ephraim claim that it is the Elder’s hope that he will establish at least a hundred monasteries in America. Do these monasteries constitute a shadow church that will in time devastate the Archdiocese financially as well as take from her many communicants? Is a schism truly in the works and is it only a matter of time before we experience the worse possible situation? Spiritual children of Fr. Ephraim state that they are taking back their communities to the true teachings of Orthodoxy and in time their parishes will cease to exist as country clubs. That the clergy should and will eventually be the only viable head of each parish and all will learn to be completely obedient to each parish priest. There are many transformations taking place in our Metropolis due to the influence of the Ephraim monasteries but most frightening is the aspect of controlling the minds of our youth. Monastic communities are having a profound influence on what our youth believe and how they act on those beliefs. Particularly is this true for our young people who are starving for spiritual and moral direction when they find it lacking in the lives of our clergy and episcopacy. Our youth are being molded by activities that take place within the monastic communities. The youth are being educated and instructed on monastic life styles and they are taught that monastic ideals need to be lived in the world in order to find salvation. In some of our parishes we see a monastic influence beginning to permeate throughout our Sunday Schools: parishes sending the youth and families by the bus load to the monasteries; and clergy vocally condemning the Metropolis Camp as not being spiritual enough and offering programs for the youth in their respective parishes during the time set aside for the Metropolis Camp Program. And now we are even seeing the indoctrination of our youth from elementary school through the college years with Gnostic theology being presented as true Orthodox beliefs. If our hierarchs and clergy can’t teach the truth then we are lost. All the scandals and difficulties that consume our Archdiocese, all the cynical clergy and loss of respect toward our hierarchs only adds fuel to the fire and elevates the presence of the Ephraim monasteries. It is because of us that we are in the position we find ourselves in today. Once we have caring hierarchs who are above reproach and hierarchs who care more about the church and its faithful than their own temporary positions, then we will begin to regain the confidence of the people and the parish priests. Only then we will be able to restore unity and continue to develop healthy parishes and monastic communities. Until then we will continue to be in turmoil. Respectfully, A broken and tired priest ** *Recipient’s name removed pursuant to their request **Permission to publish letter given by Father ________.