Metropolitan Maximos Resigns – Updated

Author: Theodore Kalmoukos
Date Published: 09/08/2011
TNH File Photo Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh has resigned from his position. His resignation was submitted to Archbishop Demetrios of America because of health problems that he has been facing in recent months.
TNH File Photo Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh has resigned from his position. His resignation was submitted to Archbishop Demetrios of America because of health problems that he has been facing in recent months.

BOSTON – Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh, beloved spiritual leader and distinguished theologian, has resigned from his position. His resignation was submitted to Archbishop Demetrios of America because of health problems that he has been facing in recent months.

The National Herald has learned that Archbishop Demetrios visited Metropolitan Maximos on Wednesday, August 3 in Pittsburgh, where he stayed overnight. It was then that Metropolitan Maximos submitted his resignation. The Archbishop notified the members of the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese of America, and he forwarded the letter of resignation to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.

TNH contacted the Metropolis’ offices, but was told that Metropolitan Maximos was in a meeting with the Chancellor, Deacon Ryan. Calls were also placed to the Archdiocese of America, but staff members said that both Archbishop Demetrios and the Chancellor, Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, were absent.

Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit has been named Locum Tenens of the Metropolis of Pittsburgh until a new Metropolitan is elected for the See. Per the provisions and directives of the Charter and Regulations of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, the Chief Secretariat, on behalf of the Holy Eparchial Synod, will commence the procedure leading to the election of a new Metropolitan of Pittsburgh.

Archbishop Demetrios is expected to support the candidacy of his spiritual son Bishop Savas of Troas, his former Chancellor who now is the Director of the Department Church and Society of the Archdiocese. Although his previous attempts to have Bishop Savas elected to a Metropolis were rebuffed by the members of the Eparchial Synod, the Archbishop may feel renewed optimism, as both Metropolitans Methodios of Boston and Evangelos of New Jersey, who in the past opposed Bishop Sava’s promotion to a Metropolitan, may now feel beholden to His Eminence since they both are facing problems in their metropolises and need the support of the Archbishop.

Metropolitan Methodios’ tenure has been tarnished by the turmoil over the annual assessment of the parish of St. George of Lynn, Mass. Not just the Archbishop but the entire Archdiocesan Council became embroiled in a conflict that has proven to be an embarrassment; they ultimately threw their support behind the Metropolitan.

TNH has learned that the Ecumenical Patriarchate favors the selection of Metropolitan Nikitas of the Dardanelles (currently the director of the Patriarch Athenagoras Theological Institute in Berkeley, Calif.) to fill this position. In the event that this wish is not supported by the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese, Metropolitan Nikitas may likely be named the next Abbot of the St. Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery in Astoria.

His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos (Aghiorgoussis) was elected in March 1979, and enthroned on April 27, 1979 as the first bishop of the then-Diocese of Pittsburgh. His elevation to the ecclesiastical rank of Metropolitan of Ainou by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople was announced on November 24, 1997, by His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew “to reward his lengthy and dedicated service, without taking him away from the pastorship of the Holy Diocese of Pittsburgh.”

As the Metropolitan of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh, His Eminence shepherds fifty-two parishes, 29 in the state of Pennsylvania, 17 in Ohio and 6 in West Virginia.

His Eminence was born on the island of Chios on March 5, 1935 to Father and Presvytera Evangelos Aghiorgoussis. He studied at the Patriarchal Theological School of Halki where he received his degree in Orthodox Theology in 1957.

He was ordained a deacon in Halki on April 28, 1957, and ordained a priest on his native island on July 26, 1959. He pursued graduate studies at the University of Louvain, Belgium, where he received a Doctorate in Theology and Baccalaureate in Philosophy in 1964.

In 1966 he arrived in the United States and was appointed Professor of Systematic Theology at the Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline Massachusetts where he remained until May 1979. During his tenure at the school, he also served as Vice President of Hellenic College and Academic Dean of the Holy Cross School of Theology, as well as Chairman of the Faculty Senate. From September 1979 to June 1985, His Eminence served as Professor of Systematic Theology at Christ the Saviour Theological Seminary in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

He is now visiting professor of Theology at that institution. As of September 1991, the Metropolitan is also a trustee of St. Vladimir’s Theological Seminary in Crestwood, New York.

On April 11, 1978, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate elected him Bishop of Diokleia. Archbishop Iakovos consecrated him to the episcopacy on Pentecost Sunday, June 18, 1978, at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York City.

Metropolitan Maximos has participated in various NCCC missions, including the fact-finding mission of a Blue Ribbon NCCC Panel to the Middle-East (February-March, 1980), a courtesy visit of an NCCC special delegation to the People’s Republic of China (November 1981), a similar visit of an NCCC delegation to the USSR (October 1984), a World Council of Churches (WCC) mission to Lebanon at the time of the Israeli invasion (July 1982), and a peace conference in Karlovy Vary, Czechoslovakia (December 1984).

The Metropolitan also joined the Patriarchal delegation to the Sixth General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Vancouver, Canada (July-August, 1983), and served on its nominating committee.

In June 1988, Metropolitan Maximos returned to the USSR and Czechoslovakia for the celebration of the Christian Millennium in the land of Kievan Rus. In April-May, 1992, the Metropolitan took part in a WCC fact-finding mission to Belarus and Ukraine.

The purpose of the mission was to study the problem of Uniatism and to report his findings to the appropriate WCC Committee. In October 1992, Metropolitan Maximos represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate at the IV Conference of the Roman Catholic Latin American Bishops (CELAM) in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic.

Metropolitan Maximos has been a very active participant of the Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, serving as a member of the Council, the Executive Committee, and the Theological Advisory Committee.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh has become a member (judicatory) of the Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia Councils of Churches, as well as of the Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania. His Eminence took part in the 12th National Conference of Christians and Jews in Chicago (November 1990), and served as a member of the organizing committee of the 13th National Conference of Christians and Jews, which was held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in November 1992.

Upon the repose of Bishop Kallistos of Zelon (+1991), Metropolitan Maximos accepted the responsibility of spiritual father and advisor of the Orthodox People Together (OPT) organization. He also served as advisor to the organizing committee of the Pan-Orthodox Conference on Mission and Evangelism.

The Metropolitan has put special emphasis on Youth Ministry, Religious Education, Monasticism and Spiritual Life and Renewal.

The Diocese sponsored the first Orthodox Christian Mission to Indonesia. The St. Gregory Palamas Monastery, a men’s monastery, was founded in 1981. Two monasteries for women were also established: The Holy Nativity of the Theotokos Convent, with the St. Elias Retreat Center, in 1989; and The Holy Protection of the Theotokos Convent in 1994.

Metropolitan Maximos is fluent in French and Italian, in addition to Greek and English, and has authored publications in each language.