Points of Concern
MAJOR POINTS OF CONCERN RAISED BY
The Archdiocesan Council of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America which met in New York on November 30 and December 1, 2001 had the opportunity to discuss the proposed revised Charter herewith attached. During the discussions members of the Archdiocesan Council offered constructive comments, criticisms, information, and suggestions on the proposed Charter. Those comments were personal opinions of the members of the Archdiocesan Council and/or opinions expressed by people of their dioceses or parishes.
The discussions were conducted in a spirit of sincerity, responsibility, directness, and respect for all comments or ideas expressed. The purpose of the deliberations was to offer what is best for the life and function of our Archdiocese as an integral and inseparable part of the global Orthodox Church in general and of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in particular.
In the course of those extensive deliberations, it became clear among the members of the Archdiocesan Council that there were some significant points which attracted their attention. Careful examination of those points gradually lead to the formation of opinions largely shared by the participants. Those opinions or comments deal with major areas of concern and are represented in the following points.
1. The Integrity and Unity of the Archdiocese
The integrity and unity of the Archdiocese constitutes an absolute priority and a fundamental principal that should be, and actually is reflected in the proposed Charter. Due however to the elevation, presupposed by the proposed Charter, of the dioceses to Metropolises and of the Bishops to Metropolitans, concerns were expressed at the Archdiocesan Council that the degree of autonomy accompanying such an elevation may perhaps have a negative impact on the integrity and unity of the Archdiocese. In order to help minimize such an undesirable impact and enhance the idea of the Archdiocesan unity two things were proposed:
a. The inclusion in the Charter of an explicit statement establishing the fact that the Metropolises are Metropolises of the Archdiocese as integral and constitutive parts of her and under her, and
b. That the order of the commemoration (Article 8) in the Liturgy reflects the reality of the Metropolises being Metropolises of the Archdiocese. One possible way of doing this, is to have the Priests commemorating their respective Metropolitan, the Metropolitans the Archbishop, and the Archbishop the Patriarch.
2. The Election of the Archbishop
The major points of concern in this instance refer (a) to the participation of the Archdiocese (Eparchial Synod, Archdiocesan Council, etc.) in the process of the election of the Archbishop in case of a vacancy due to death, retirement, or resignation, and (b) the qualifications of the candidates for the office of the Archbishop.
Point (a) could be addressed by defining more specifically in the Charter and/or in the ensuing regulations the exact role of the Eparchial Synod and the Archdiocesan Council in the process of the election of the Archbishop.
Point (b) relates to a particular qualification of the candidates, namely, the mandatory condition for at least five years of service in the Archdiocese of America. The comments in this case favor a formulation in the Charter which makes mandatory the qualification of five years of service in the Archdiocese and does not include its alternative as it appears in the draft of the proposed Charter (Article 13), i.e. the phrase “or to have proven, direct, substantive, and broad knowledge of the life and status of the Church in America.”
3. The Election of the Metropolitans and the Auxiliary Bishops
It has been recognized that as a matter of long practice the nominations and suggestions of the Archdiocese for the election of our Bishops were always accepted and honored by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The opinions expressed, however, by the members of the Archdiocesan Council on this important issue are that time seems to have come for this Archdiocese to be granted more freedom and responsibility in the election of her Hierarchs. Since the list of the candidates is approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate which constitutes a solid, controlling factor, and since the Archdiocese has demonstrated ecclesiastical maturity and spiritual and organizational strength for 80 consecutive years and under extremely testing conditions, this very Archdiocese could be granted the privilege to elect her Metropolitans and Auxiliary bishops in a definitive way. It was pointed out that in this case the respective articles of the Charter (Article 14 and 15) should be modified accordingly so that they would reflect the truly increased trust of the Ecumenical Patriarchate towards “the very prominent eparchy of the throne which is the Archdiocese of America”.
4. The Lay Participation in the Administrative Processes
Although the proposed Charter presents a well balanced picture of the roles and the cooperation between clergy and laity in the governance of the Archdiocese, concern was expressed that the formulation of Article 25 (Amendments to the Charter) may perhaps lead to a perception of a diminished role of the laity in the process of a future amendment to the Charter. In the Greek text of the Charter the same article is much clearer and there is no danger of any diminished role of the laity. The opinion in this case was that the English version of Article 25 needs certain modifications in order to obtain the clarity of its Greek counterpart and to correspond exactly to it. Those modifications are reflected now in the form of Article 25 as it appears in the proposed Charter.