The Lost Decade
On January 12, 199¬9, the five Metropolitans who were then serving the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America authored a “Report” to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy and Sacred Synod of Constantinople. It was published in The National Herald of New York in Greek (January 16-17, 1999) and in English (January 23-24, 2009).
The five Metropolitans authoring this report at that time were Iakovos of Krinis (Chicago), Anthony of Dardanellion (San Francisco), Maximos of Ainou (Pittsburgh), Methodios of Aeno (Boston) and Isiah of Proikonisou (Denver).
The report focused on the controversies created by then Archbishop Spyridon and his administration of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. A number of interesting questions were asked of the then Archbishop: “(8) Is he able to cease the division of the block into Greeks and Americans, or otherwise into first and second categories of Christians?” and “(15) Is he able to heal the division existing among both the clergy and the laity, which is due to the so-called ‘fundamentalism?’”
Included were complaints that our faithful were being characterized as “plastic” and our ethos unorthodox and “Protestant.” They complained that “obedience” in the Church cannot be “blind obedience”. Also included was an “Addendum” which gave a historical review of the crisis and listed the main contributing factors. One complaint stated:
“All these – visits to and the celebration of services in parish churches, which belong to the jurisdiction of other Bishops and Metropolitans, without invitation from, permission by, consultation with, or at least informing the local Bishop, ordinations of all clergy by the Archbishop; the consecration of sacred churches by him; the establishment of abbots in monasteries belonging to other jurisdictions, and the celebration of Door Opening Ceremonies at monasteries and churches of other jurisdictions without consultation with, invitation by and permission of the canonical local Bishop/Metropolitan-in no way favor good relations between the Archbishop and the Metropolitans.”
Another complaint stated in part:
“The devout people of the Lord are divided by such declarations into Greeks and Americans, Archiepiscopals and anti-Archiepiescopals, or even Iakovites and Spyridonites, Greek-speaking and English-speaking, pro-Greek and anti-Greek, or even conservatives and progressives, modernists and traditionalists. This kind of division must stop.”
But the 8th listed complaint on page 15 leapt off the page of this Report.
“8) Fanatical Adherents and Super-Orthodox (Fundamentalists)
“Contributing factors to the division of our Christians are certain excesses which are not necessarily the creation of the Archbishop or the Monastic Ephraim, but are related to them because some of the clergy and laity, for their own selfish purposes, invoke the authority of both. Conservatism is one thing, fanaticism another. Traditionalism is one thing, “super-Orthodoxy” and “fundamentalism” other things.”
Since the 1999 date of this report, Archbishop Demetrios was enthroned and recently celebrated his 10th anniversary of his elevation. Metropolitans Iakovos, Maximos, Methodios and Isiah continue to serve on the Holy Synod in America and since have been joined by other newly enthroned Metropolitans, Alexios (Atlanta), Nicholas (Detroit), Gerasimos (San Francisco) and Evangelos (New Jersey). A new Charter for our Church in America has since granted broad powers to the Metropolitans and elevated their Dioceses to Metropolitanates.
Sadly, the excesses of Monk Ephraim, now of Arizona and his fanatics continued during the ten year period unabated. One only needs to read but a few of the many articles posted on this website to confirm the extent of this anti-canonical monastic activity. The excesses include strange teachings and some strange financial deals that present serious causes for concern.
The clergy of this Archdiocese have been divided into “Ephraimites” and “Faith abiding”. The divisions among the laity are even more pronounced as parishes are being divided in the same manner. Certain clergy and laity now by-pass their Metropolitans and directly answer only to a monk in Arizona.
Slightly over a decade has passed since this remarkable Report was sent to Constantinople and then published in national newspapers for the entire Greek Orthodox Church to read.
Yet the excesses of Monk Ephraim in America continue. The monasteries he has established prosper, expand and inject their divisive poison into the laity and parishes of the Archdiocese. Those pious Greek Orthodox who properly refuse to support these monasteries and their excesses are unfairly branded as “anti-monastery” or “anti-Orthodox” or as “Protestant.”
The Holy Synod, after a decade of inactivity on this issue that once concerned them so greatly that they highlighted it to our Ecumenical Patriarchate, still allows these excesses by Monk Ephraim and his cult-like followers to continue. Ten years after describing the problem that the editors are now trying to address, none of the original signers can point to any concrete measures that they have taken to address the problems in the Report that they themselves identified.
(The entire 15 page “Report” is attached.)