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AB Demetrios on Way Out?

Author: Theodore Kalmoukos
April 28, 2010
Archbishop Demetrios on the Way Out?

from: The National Herald

ART. 1
26-28 MAY 2010 NEW YORK

Boston- At 83 years old and beleaguered by a raft of questions about his ability to keep leading, Archbishop Demetrios may leave his position at the Archbishopric Throne of America, it emerged after intense discussions at the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, where he traveled unannounced, as well as among prominent Greek-American leaders who want him retained. The National Herald was unable to reach him at press time.  Those familiar with the issue attribute the possible development to his age the constant accumulation of various unresolved problems under his tenure recently.

Sources said it was believed at the Patriarchate that these questions have stagnated the ecclesial life of the Archdiocese of America. TNH also has learned that a group of prominent Greek Americans do not agree with the possibility of Archbishop Demetrios leaving his post and threatened to stop all financial and other support to the Ecumenical Patriarchate if he does not stay.

The speculation about a possible exodus were re-enforced after his meeting with Prime Minister George Papandreou and the Deputy Minister of State Demetris Droutsas in Athens on April 27. The Archbishop’s statement to The National Herald after the meeting that he discussed “issues that concern him” intensified even more the reports his departure is being arranged, especially after his visit to Constantinople.

The discussion became more intense after the last visit of Patriarch Bartholomew to the United States for an ecological symposium about the environment and the cleaning of the Mississippi river which coincided with the Archbishop’s 10 year anniversary as head of the church in America. TNH has learned that despite Bartholomew’s public praise and congratulatory remarks about the Archbishop, upon his return to the Phanar, the Patriarch said that “We have problems in America.” Senior Metropolitan Athanasios of Chalcedon enforced the Patriarch’s view as well. Metropolitan Athanasios was a member of the Patriarchal entourage at the US visit.

Patriarchal officials were said to have blamed Archbishop Demetrios with a “lack of administrative competency” and “inability” to control the “honorary Metropolitans” although he has jurisdiction over the Archdiocese of America and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Metropolitans hold honorary status, a strange combination of auxiliary Bishops and titular Metropolitans while Archbishop Demetrios is commemorated as “shepherd” at the Liturgy when visiting the local Metropolitses.

Savas the Successor?

Although Archbishop Demetrios did not discuss the issue of his possible departure, TNH also learned that previously, and in recent days and at Patriarchate during his visit, he indicated that he wanted Bishop Savas of Troas, his former Chancellor, to be his successor saying that “He is capable and his confidant and he will continue his work.” The reason that Archbishop Demetrios relieved Bishop Savas from his duties as Chancellor was reportedly to protect him as Savas was said to be creating constant problems with various parishes and their councils.

But Patriarch Bartholomew, on the suggestion of Rev. Alex Karloutsos, seemed to favor Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, a graduate of Holy Cross Theological School in Boston, to be the successor. The Patriarch has assigned the role of “Secretary of State” of the Phanar to Metropolitan Emmanuel ,sending him to various assignments everywhere in the world and constantly projecting him. He was also a member of Bartholomew’s entourage during his last visit to the US.

Metropolitan Emmanuel, knowing the huge responsibility of the Archbishopric Throne of America, said he didn’t want the job. Rev. Karloutsos, who appears and acts as some type of an “unofficial Archbishop” in America because of his nearness with Patriarch Bartholomew, has taken on the task to convince Metropolitan Emmanuel to accept it. The current government of Greece also reportedly favors Metropolitan Emmanuel’s candidacy. Karloutsos was also instrumental in the election of the former Archbishop Spyridon.

The reason that Archbishop Demetrios traveled to the Ecumenical patriarchate was primarily to discuss with Patriarch Bartholomew and Patriarch Theofilos of Jerusalem the issue of the Orthodox Palestinian parishes of the US, especially in the California area, which were turned over to the Archdiocese by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem and will accept no other leader. Patriarch Bartholomew discussed with Archbishop Demetrios various issues of the Archdiocese including the upcoming Synaxis of all the canonical Bishops in America and Canada on May 26. Patriarch Bartholomew appears to be angry with Archbishop Demetrio’s decision to include the OCA (former Russian Metropolia,) to which the Patriarchate of Moscow gave autocephalous ecclesiastical status which is not recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate despite the clear directive of Patriarch Bartholomew not to include them. Archbishop Demetrios claims it was included by mistake, but Fr. Mark Arey, Director of Interchurch Relations, gave a different explanation.

There are hierarchs at the Phanar who fear that such a Synaxis convened with the knowledge if not the directive of the Patriarchate, could get out of control and develop into some type of an ecclesiastical coup for the creation of an American Orthodox Autocephalous Church, similar to that attempted by the late Archbishop Iakovos at the Ligonier on Pennsylvania in 1994 which became the beginning of the end of his Archbishopric tenure.

4 Comments to “AB Demetrios on Way Out?”

  1. Administrator Says:

    It is becoming more obvious that the Episcopal Assembly for North America is not necessarily proceeding as originally planned by Old World Patriarchs who have always tried to keep control of “their” “diasporas”. The 40 year old reality of the OCA is complicating their game. Let us hope that AB Demetrios will stand aright in the face of the the assault that has already begun against him.

  2. Administrator Says:

    Devine din ce in ce mai clar ca Adunarea Episcopala pentru America de Nord nu procedeaza asa cum au planificat-o Patriarhii din lumea veche, care in tot timpul au incercat sa mentina un control peste “diaspora” “lor”. Realitatea OCA de 40 de ani complica jocul lor. Sa speram ca IPS Demetrios va sta drept in fata asaltului déjà inceput impotriva sa.

  3. Leo Says:

    as posted on regarding: ‘AB Demetrios on Way Out?’

    This didn’t strike me the first time I read this a few hours ago, until I remembered that the Episcopal Assemblies supposedly are required to operate by consensus — not of the participating Hierarchs as individuals, but according to their Patriarchates. This strange consensus I didn’t “get” either until tonight. What’s the difference — Consensus is consensus, right? If one Bishop in one Patriarchate balks, consensus hasn’t been achieved yet for the whole EA, right? Maybe. Those Bishops who are still part of a Patriarchate — which is most of the Diaspora — may be prevailed upon by their Patriarchates regarding questions in their EAs … or yanked … and the Patriarchates themselves continue to wrangle at “the highest level” back in the Old World. Even Constantinople and Moscow, with a “rivalry” even secular media notice, also have a relationship of over 1,000 years. But C’ople and some others there have studiously avoided much relationship with the OCA/Metropolia, ironically contributing to the creation of an image of the OCA, whether in their own minds or in reality, as a ‘free radical’ in North America, which recall is numerically the heart of the Diaspora.

    I don’t see leaving the OCA out of the EA as the Herald put it. I think what C’ople probably “directed” was that the OCA be considered part of the Moscow Patriarchate and not an entity on its own in the EA at least, as has also been announced by Greeks on this side of the Atlantic somewhere. IOW, they wanted the OCA to be able to be brought to heel by Moscow in some way(s), as well as by a ROCOR they have probably read shares alot of bad blood with the OCA (recent photo opps, and 40-year-old denunciations of C’ople by St. John Maximovitch, notwithstanding). And certainly they didn’t want OCA’s primate to be one of 8 leading decisionmakers in the North American EA’s “Executive Committee,” not only bringing Metropolitan JONAH’s big mouth into the ’steering body’ here, but quite simply complicating it by increasing its size by 15 pct., from 7 to 8 (the other 7 being the Patriarchates’ senior hierarchs here: C’ople/Greek, Antioch, Moscow, Georgia, Serbia, Romania, and Bulgaria). (C’ople probably also doesn’t trust him because he’s a convert, and from Protestantism even, much less familiar than Latinism.)

    So, whether Archbishop DEMETRIOS ‘didn’t get that memo,’ or had his own conversations while in Moscow last year or with JONAH or others here in the USA, or just isn’t that comfortable behaving as a good Byzantine satrap (not only regarding “those Russians,” but his own “uppity honorary metropolitans,” OCL, parish councils, Brookline sems who can’t converse in Greek, “uppity Greek media,” etc etc etc.), or who knows what, Patriarch BARTHOLOMEW can’t be happy. And his concerns from his perspective aren’t necessarily totally unreasonable. I personally don’t share them, and don’t see the OCA as a scary bogeyman, but as introducing probably a needed broadening of perspectives to what elsewhere will be an all-Mother-Church process. I’m disappointed that the EAs will be less of the Synods-in-waiting that they seemed (to me at least) to be heralded as in the Chambesy statements and documents. I wonder “theologically” at what seems to be a reduction of full Orthodox Bishops to glorified Deans. Sure, I’m inexperienced with “Byzantine intrigue,” and I’m not very holy either. But is an “American” and “federal” perspective entirely useless to Orthodoxy, especially in a Jurisdictionally pluralistic situation such as here.

  4. Dean Calvert Says:

    as posted on regarding: ‘AB Demetrios on Way Out?’

    Leo, Christ is Risen! I’m sorry, but, glorified or not, I’m not attending. They would not like to hear what would come out of my mouth if I did….LOL. Seriously, I share many of your sentiments. I asked a long time ago, “who are the voting parties”? They didn’t add up…and I figured no one else really knew either. There is one thing, though, that I think might be missing from your analysis: The question of “why now?” I’ve been asking that question from the beginning on this…think about it…this Chambesy process has been in deep freeze since the middle 90’s…suddenly it’s moving at warp speed…why?

    I’ve asked that question a lot…never receiving a real good answer. But I think I may have come up with it..and I think it has something to do with Turkey’s changing geopolitical status. I saw an article in the Turkish press a few months ago questioning the importance of remaining a US ally. They laid out the trade dollars with the US (which were insignificant - $7 billion or $10 billion) vs the trade dollars with Russia - something like $35 billion per year, and growing by 50% per year. We’ve all read anecdotal accounts of the number of Russian tourists going to Turkey each year…and Cyprus became “the Russian Switzerland” many years ago.

    I’m thinking that the message delivered by Patriarch Kyrill to the EP, on his first visit there (and perhaps even earlier by +Pat. Alexei of blessed memory) was, “we’ve got the muscle and we’re going to start using it.” That would sure explain the pale look on the face of the EP during the visit to Istanbul a few months ago. It goes along with what we just saw issued from Alexandria, following the visit there (setup of new Russian dioceses in Africa).

    I know this is rank speculation…admittedly so. But I suspect there is something much bigger afoot here than anything that has been made public. And I think the result of that “something” is that the EP is throwing the Pan Orthodox “long ball”…perhaps as their only chance to counter the Russian hegemony in the Orthodox world…

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