Another Hypocritical Pietism

Author: Theodore Kalmoukos
Date Published: 01/24/2017
Publication: The National Herald

Before the Greek-Orthodox Archdiocese of America and our Greek-American community had a chance to recover from the huge sexual scandal of George Passias – once Chancellor of the Archdiocese – the scandal of Rev. Luke Melackrinos broke. Just like Passias, Melackrinos also appeared to be a pious priest, pretending to be spiritual, whatever the term “spirituality” means anymore.

Another parish in our Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, St. Paul’s in Hempstead, NY, is now going through much suffering that it’s presiding priest’s scandal created.

Instead of praying and doing the work of God for which he was getting paid by the church – meaning, the faithful – he was sending inappropriate photos of himself to a woman in the parish. This is one more case of hypocritical pietism.

I have written in the past about the pestiferous syndrome of the pseudospiritualism that some priests use in order to appear to be “spiritual fathers” and soul saviors. Let me clarify one more time that piety is one thing, the living of the truth of the Church, and it is another thing to publicly display one’s “spirituality” in a hypocritical manner.

It was the pseudopietism and the hypocrisy that made Christ Himself say those denunciatory “woes” to the cast of Pharisees and Scribes – the clergy of His time. Those “woes” are so timely for a big part of our clergy of all ranks today. I should emphasize, though, that there many clergymen today also who are “men full of grace and truth” in contradistinction to those who are full of hypocrisy, corruption and hoodlumism.

Melackrinos seemed “pious” and “traditional,” whatever that means. He wore an anteri (inner cassock) with a big red cross inwrought in front and also the kalimavhi (clerical hat) teaching and preaching to the faithful about confession. That some parishioners and also members of the Archdiocesan Council told me that St. Paul’s was being transformed into some sort of Ephraimite monastery is quite alarming.

I am at times astonished by the Archdiocese’s lack of criteria and discretion regarding the appointments of priests like Anastasios Gounaris (he was defrocked) to the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York and after that to St. Nicholas in Tarpon Springs, FL, and such as Luke Melackrinos to the St. Paul Cathedral.

I am wondering what the Archdiocese is going to say to St. Paul’s faithful and generous congregants, who paid Melackrinos well to be their priest and teacher in faith and not an “exhibitionist” who sends inappropriate photos.

Furthermore, what will the Archdiocese say to the children, teenagers, and young men and women who held Melackrinos in such high esteem and sought guidance and direction from him?

Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, Chancellor of the Archdiocese, told TNH about Melackrinos’ unholy acts and that he will send him for counseling, and that there are others too. The Archdiocese, which is actually the body of the faithful, us, not the building, will be called to assume the expense of the therapy.

Let me remind that these expenses, including the Archdiocese’s sustenance – the salaries, the benefits, the trips, the meetings, and of course the psychologists for problematic clergy – are paid by the selling of candles, the collections in the trays, the donations, and also the income from the “heroic” Greek festivals with the skewered lambs, pigs, souvlakia, and, of course, the loukoumades. This is the reality and the drama of our Church.

One more thing: priests with ethos, in good spiritual and mental health, well-educated, and bilingual are cast off to small and inconspicuous parishes, while others who are exceptional mediocrities in all aspects are appointed to prestigious cathedrals, enjoying high salaries and benefits, luxurious homes and cars, and living a lavish lifestyle.

I respectfully urge our archbishop, His Eminence Geron of America Demetrios for the good of the Church and also for his own legacy to be bold in clean up the clergy of all ranks before more scandals emerge.