We received a copy of an email that a parish priest sent to his parish council members. The name of the parish was not identified in the email. See the intriguing message below:
Dear Members of our Parish Council,
Like many of you, I was surprised and saddened to read from Greek media sources that Archbishop Elpidophoros of America recommended to the Holy and Sacred Synod of Constantinople to suspend the Official Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. I wish I could provide clarity to the many questions you have submitted to me over the past few days, but unfortunately, I am unable to sufficiently answer your questions and inquiries about what this all means.
I certainly have my own interpretations about this latest development. My brother priests and I have attempted to receive some insight from our Spiritual Father and Metropolitan and/or Chancellor about this situation; however, it saddens me to write that we have been unsuccessful at receiving any information from the Metropolis. I do not believe this is a deliberate attempt to avoid our concerns, but rather, they were caught off guard and surprised as much as we were about this rushed and unusual decision. I want to be absolutely clear with you that I share the same questions and concerns that you have shared with me.
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In response to the comment made by Mr Pappas that our spiritual leaders have failed us, I would like to quickly offer a reflection. To be blunt, I certainly would concur with that viewpoint, but our primarily focus at this time should not be on the men who lead us. We should focus our attention on the teachings of Christ Jesus, who was crucified for our sake and rose from the dead, so that we may be granted eternal life. When faced with challenges, we should always pray to God for help and clarity, and this situation is no different. Our first action as Christians is to pray for our spiritual leaders. And while we pray, we must also be mindful about our secondary priority that our own actions are not enabling our spiritual leaders to continue to make poor, and dare I say, reckless decisions.
With this being said, I would ask that our Parish Council members exhibit some patience as we wait for a response from our Metropolitan. In the mean time, as Parish Council members, you have chosen to offer your talents and service to our parish. It has been brought to my attention that many of our sister parishes have begun discussions of withholding their monthly assessment payment to the Archdiocese until the current Charter is removed from its suspension or a new Charter is ratified.
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As you are certainly aware, a Parish Priest traditionally refrains from offering any support about any decision that would involve going against the Archdiocese. However, I would argue that since Archbishop Elpidophoros has suspended the Charter, the Regulations that were in place no longer apply since there is currently no Archdiocese. Archbishop Elpidophoros has no canonical authority over this parish or to me as a priest. As the spiritual father of this community, I believe it is in our best interest to immediately begin discussing the possibility of withholding our monthly payments to New York until a time when there is no ambiguity about the new vision that is being created in New York.
I would also like to express my thoughts that the parish council does not need to worry about any consequences (i.e. losing their priest) by moving forward with this decision. Our Metropolitan is more focused about losing his own job at the present moment than being attentive which parishes are paying their assessments and which one’s are not. With God’s protection, we will be just fine.
We have an obligation to ensure the survival of our parish for generations to come, and I know that with our hearts in the right place, we will succeed. We will still plan to have our regularly scheduled Parish Council meeting Wednesday at our usual time, and we can continue this conversation at that time. If I receive any information from the Metropolis, I will relay it to you all.
Thank you for all your support and patience during this uncertain time.