ACCORDING to reports published in The National Herald, the Archdiocese of America is facing the worse financial crisis in its history. Rumors of possible misappropriation, firings and resignations of responsible parties and personnel, financial mismanagement, an $8.5 million debt, resignations of members appointed to the Archdiocesan Council, squandering of resources, bureaucracy, and the threat of bankruptcy affirm that the Archdiocese is an organization on the brink of collapse.
The responsibility for all of this lies, of course, with the ninety-year-old Archbishop Demetrios, who refuses to step aside and allow a younger prelate to take his place. Despite being told as much by the Patriarchate, he refuses to resign.
However, an even more serious crisis exists between the Archdiocese’s relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as a result of the latter’s rejection of the “triprosopon” (list of three nominees to fill a vacant see) for the Metropolis of Chicago. All these phenomena represent symptoms of our Church’s failed system of governance and dependence. Naturally, the center of Orthodox Christianity needs aid and support. However, the time has come for relations between the Archdiocese of America and Phanar to be arranged on a new basis. Concord and cooperation is required, not dominance and colonial subjugation.
The Church in America was built by immigrants. Our beautiful churches were built brick by brick and our Communities, which are self-governing when Metropolitans do not interfere, were organized from the ground up. The entire system of administration worked pretty well up until Archbishop Iakovos was forced to resign, and Archbishop Spyridon after him. Transparency and democratic process were absent then as well. The Archdiocesan Council was and remains appointed, and its meetings are private. The same is true for the Metropolitan Councils. And the Metropolitans, who are not obliged to offer any sort of accounting, govern as they see fit, without any oversight from the Archbishop or Patriarch.
The faithful, who pay the salaries of prelates and priests, and sustain the Communities and Metropolises through their contributions, have no say in the decisions affecting them. Sexual harassment scandals that cost millions in damages are quietly covered up. If it weren’t for the Press, the faithful would never find out what was happening.
To reiterate: the time has come for an autonomous, independent Orthodox Church of America.