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GOA - New Charter for the Archdiocese Granted by the Ecumenical

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Fri, 24 Jan 2003 15:42:27 -0800

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January 23, 2003


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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
    the Archdiocese.

    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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