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GOA - New Charter for the Archdiocese Granted by the Ecumenical
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Fri, 24 Jan 2003 15:42:27 -0800
GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 23, 2003
Contact: Rev. Fr. Nektarios Morrow
Department of Communications
Tel. (212) 774-0506 Fax. (212)774-0589
New Charter for the Archdiocese Granted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate
New York, NY -- On December 20, 2002, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios,
Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America and Exarch of the
Ecumenical Patriarchate, announced that the Holy and Sacred Synod of the
Patriarchate had concluded its work and granted a new Charter to the Greek
Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The granting of the Charter followed
careful review and consideration by the Synod of the Patriarchate of all of
the opinions and concerns offered by the Clergy-Laity Congress and by
parishes and individuals throughout the Archdiocese.
As has been stated previously, the new Charter is critical to the
present and future of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. The process of
preparing and reviewing the text revealed much about the level of maturity
of the Church in America. Discussions on the Charter in the meetings of
the Patriarchal and Archdiocesan committees revealed the expertise,
concern, and visionary thinking of our Hierarchs, clergy, and lay people.
The responses of the parishes of the Archdiocese and the Charter
presentations at the Archdiocesan Council meetings and the Clergy-Laity
Congress in Los Angeles were characterized by respect, moderated concern,
and deep compassion for the proper existence and function of the
Archdiocese. All of this has been a witness of the proper and godly way of
conducting the affairs of the Church.
Now that the Charter has been granted by the Ecumenical Patriarchate
and the official text has been received and translated, it is important to
present in this brief commentary how issues raised during the process of
preparing the Charter are addressed in the new Charter.
1. The Integrity and Unity of the Archdiocese
On December 20, 2002, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios announced that
in accordance with the new Charter, the Synod of the Patriarchate,
affirming the unity and oneness of the Archdiocese, elevated the
Dioceses to Metropolises of the Archdiocese. The Metropolises of the
Archdiocese are Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, New Jersey,
Pittsburgh, and San Francisco.
At the same time, it was announced that the Synod of the Patriarchate
elected all of the Hierarchs of the former Dioceses as Metropolitans of
their respective Metropolises. The Hierarchs of each Metropolis were
given the following titles respectively (listed in order of seniority):
His Eminence Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago
His Eminence Metropolitan Anthony of San Francisco
His Eminence Metropolitan Maximos of Pittsburgh
His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston
His Eminence Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver
His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta
His Eminence Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit
This elevation of the Dioceses to Metropolises of the Archdiocese is a
change that is representative of the strength and vitality of the
Archdiocese. The Metropolises are parts of the Greek Orthodox
Archdiocese of America. Administratively, financially, and in terms of
mission and function, the Archdiocese remains unified. All of the
parishes, institutions, organizations, and ministries remain within and
under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese.
The election of each of the Hierarchs as Metropolitans of the
Metropolises of the Archdiocese further affirms the integrity and unity
of the Archdiocese. The Metropolitans are no longer Metropolitans of
the Patriarchal Throne, but they are Metropolitans of the Archdiocese.
The Archbishop, as the head of the Archdiocese, continues to be the
Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the Greek Orthodox Church in
America. The Metropolitans remain members of the Eparchial Synod of the
Archdiocese, a Synod that has as its president the Archbishop, that
constitutes an expression of unity, and that functions as a decisive
unifying factor on all levels of the life of the Archdiocese. In
addition, clarity of structure is now provided since the Archdiocese has
Metropolises and Metropolitans that are clearly linked in name to
geographic regions in America.
2. Election of the Archbishop
This article in the new Charter (Article 13), while retaining the basic
process of election, does place more emphasis on the role of the
Eparchial Synod and the Archdiocesan Council in expressing opinions and
recommendations to the Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate regarding
candidates for the office of Archbishop.
Regarding the language of the article and concerns related to the
qualifications of the Archbishop, the Charter states that a candidate
must "have had a period of successful service in the Archdiocese of no
less than five years, or to have proven, direct, substantive and broad
knowledge of the life and status of the Church in America" (Article
13b). This language was included in the text in order to emphasize the
importance of the relationship of any candidate with the Church in
America, a relationship that can and will be affirmed by the Eparchial
Synod and the Archdiocesan Council.
3. Election of the Metropolitans
Under the new Charter the election of the Metropolitans of the
Archdiocese will continue to follow the triprosopon, in which three
candidates will be nominated for a vacancy by the Eparchial Synod, and
these names will be submitted to the Synod of the Patriarchate. The
Synod of the Patriarchate will elect one of the three. (Article 14)
The history of this process has shown its significance for the Church in
America, in that the Synod of the Patriarchate has always elected the
first candidate on a list of three put forth by the Eparchial Synod of
Of equal significance is the fact that the Charter mandates that the
list of eligible candidates for episcopal office be updated regularly by
the Eparchial Synod in consultation with the Archdiocesan Council, that
the list be submitted for approval by the Patriarchate, and that the
list is officially published by the Archdiocese on a regular basis.
4. Lay Participation in the Administrative Process
As indicated above in the paragraphs on the elections of the Archbishop
and the Metropolitans, the new Charter affirms that the laity of the
Church in America are an integral part of the election process.
Concerning the election of the Archbishop, recommendations and opinions
are expressed to the Patriarchate through the Archdiocesan Council.
Regarding the elections of Metropolitans, laity are able to review the
official list of candidates and offer concerns and/or information on the
qualifications of candidates for service in this capacity.
The new Charter also acknowledges the crucial role of the Clergy-Laity
Congress in the administration and function of the Archdiocese. As
stated in the Charter, the Congresses "except for doctrinal or canonical
matters, they are concerned with all other matters which affect the
life, mission, growth and unity of the Archdiocese of America, referring
to the uniform administration of the Direct Archdiocesan District, the
Metropolises and Parishes, the education, the financial programs, the
philanthropic concerns and the more active participation of the
Archdiocese in the life of the United States of America." In comparison
with the 1977 Charter, this Article offers a clearer representation of
the important administrative role the Congresses have and will continue
to have in the life of the Archdiocese. For example, the new Charter
states that the decisions of the Congress will be submitted to the
Ecumenical Patriarchate for approval, and the decisions "shall be deemed
approved" in the event no response is received within 90 days.
Further emphasis on the participation of the laity in the administrative
process is evident in the article on amending the Charter (Article 25).
Amendments to the Charter initiated by the Archdiocese must follow a due
process including deliberations by the Archdiocesan Council and the
Clergy-Laity Congress. Following, the Eparchial Synod submits a
proposal for amendment to the Synod of the Patriarchate for approval and
Another critical area of lay involvement will be the review and revision
of the Regulations that govern the various administrative bodies of the
Archdiocese. The new Charter acknowledges that this is the
responsibility of the Archdiocese. Lay involvement will be crucial in
revising the Regulations of the Clergy-Laity Congress, the Archdiocesan
Council, Local Councils, Assemblies, and Parishes.
Significance of the Charter for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
The new Charter is critical to the present and future of the Greek
Orthodox Archdiocese of America. As explained above, the Charter first
and foremost maintains the unity of the structure of the Archdiocese and
the unity of the administration of the Archdiocese. Further, it
strengthens even more the existing bond and unity between the Ecumenical
Patriarchate and the Archdiocese.
Second, the process of elections for the Archbishop and the
Metropolitans has been enhanced and clarified in affirming the roles of
the Synod, Council, and laity, and in terms of the relationships of
candidates to the Church in America.
Third, as explained above, the role of the laity is crucial for the
proper administration of the Archdiocese in the function of the
Clergy-Laity Congresses, the Archdiocesan Council, the elections of
Hierarchs, and the revision of the Regulations that govern all aspects
of the life of the Church in America. The Charter provides the
foundation for even greater relationships and synergy between clergy and
laity in ever-increasing our focus on the mission of the Church in the
Fourth, it must also be stated that the Charter is a progressive step in
the Charter history of the Archdiocese. The text is composed of a clear
theological language. It helps those outside of the Archdiocese to
understand its structure and function. Further, the Charter addresses
issues that are not included in the 1977 Charter (Metropolitans and
Auxiliary Bishops, Monasteries, etc.)
Fifth, the Charter now provides for the next step, the revision of the
Regulations of the Archdiocese. These must now be updated so that they
address contemporary issues and needs, as well as reflect the true
spirit of the Gospel and our mission as Orthodox Christians in America.
This will involve extensive work at all levels of the Archdiocese, a
work that will be very essential to the future of the Archdiocese.
It is clear that the new Charter represents progress for the
administration and function of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of
America. In conclusion, it must be stated and remembered that the
significance of the new Charter is inseparably linked to the potential
we have as a strong, unique, and vibrant Archdiocese in offering our
faith to the people of America and in supporting ministry around the
world that brings the message of salvation to all who are in need of our
Lord Jesus Christ.
The text of the Charter is available in both Greek and English on the
web site of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America at
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