Transcript of Jaharis Speech Leaves Want of More Details
To the Editor:
Thank you for publishing the full text of the October 18 speech by Archdiocesan Council VP Michael Jaharis (TNH, Dec. 15). I am pleased to have waited to read the text before commenting, because the account of your reporter, Theodore Kalmoukos, engendered more hope that important issues were addressed by Mr. Jaharis than the text of his speech seems to warrant. There are two issues highlighted in Mr. Kalmoukos’ report that I expected to see in the text.
First, from the report it appeared that Mr. Jaharis had recognized the damage that was done to the Church in America by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in its unilateral “elevation” of Diocesan Bishops to Metropolitans of newly minted “Metropolises,” the dismembering of the Archdiocese, and the imposition of a Charter that was not requested by any Clergy-Laity Congress – which stripped the Archdiocese of its de facto (if not de jure) autonomy under Archbishop Iakovos, of blessed memory, and the unfortunate revision to the 1979 Charter. If Mr. Jaharis had supported the recommendations of the Executive Committee of the Council and Dr. John Collis’ motion to modify the proposed Charter, which was overwhelmingly adopted at the Los Angeles Clergy-Laity Congress dealing with the Charter, he would not now be looking for “clarification” and a “more precise interpretation” or “a minor change in some items of the Charter.” Mr. Jaharis seems to want a stronger “Executive Authority” or “CEO” for the Church in America, but at the same time, in his speech he backed away from any suggestion that the U.S. Church should be “autocephalous or autonomous.” If the symbol of Byzantium is the two-headed eagle (looking East and West) it appears that Mr. Jaharis, in his speech, is speaking to both sides of the issue that he identifies as requiring the removal of “doubt and ambiguity.” I was hoping for a more forceful call for autocephaly for the U.S. Church, or at least autonomy as a step to autocephaly. Mr. Jaharis must be praised for identifying the problem. Hopefully, he is not really backing away from the solution. Perhaps he is floating a trial balloon and needs to hear from enough of the faithful rather than from “a certain Metropolitan of the Throne” who “misinterpreted” his earlier remarks.
Second is the issue of the rise of Athonite monasteries in the United States that are supposed to be under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocesan Charter, but which ignore its obligations. In his speech, Mr. Jaharis decried the “lack of cooperation on the part of these monasteries” with the Archdiocesan Committee formed to review and examine allegations concerning activities at these monasteries. He spoke of “unacceptable and disgusting activities… a recent horrible fatality of a young person…[and the need] to make certain to guard our garden from disease.” But, once again, he does not address the underlying issue of whether the “disease” he is referring to is a fundamentalist cult that is infecting a growing number of our Clergy, to what extent it is present at our Seminary, and whether it is being supported by some of our Hierarchs.
Once again, Mr. Jaharis deserves praise for raising the issue. If the Archdiocesan Council has, indeed, become more than a “sit and listen at meetings” body as Mr. Jaharis claims, we should be seeing some action on the issues he talked about. That would be worthy of our prayers in 2013.
George D. Karcazes