One of the darkest hours for Greek-American Orthodox passed by in mid-August with the resignation of Archbishop Spyridon, immediately followed by the appointment of a popular successor.

Spyridon's long, slow fall from power proves not only the importance of support from everday churchgoers, but also how a well-organized faction may gain significant political power.

For nearly three years, the 1.5 million–member Greek Orthodox Church in America has been gripped by the controversies spinning around Spyridon, who finally resigned under duress on August 19. The next day, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy Synod appointed the popular Metropolitan Demetrios Trakatellis of Greece.

Spyridon faced an unprecedented effort to force his ouster—from lay leaders, under the auspices of Greek Orthodox American Leaders (GOAL), from more than 100 priests, and from all five hierarchs in the Greek-American Church (CT, April 5, 1999, p. 24).

Though Spyridon did have his share of supporters, many complained that his leadership style was heavy-handed and autocratic. There were also charges of financial malfeasance and the controversial firings of four priests by the archbishop at Hellenic College/Holy Cross in Brookline, Massachusetts. But Spyridon faces no investigations in connection with these allegations. Spyridon has been assigned by Bartholomew to the Metropolitanate of Chaldea and will receive a permanent reassignment later.

KNOWN QUANTITY: Both Spyridon supporters and critics are pledging to work with the new archbishop to bridge their differences.

Archbishop Demetrios, 71, was born in Thessoloniki, Greece. He is known internationally as a New Testament scholar and author; he lived in the United States for 20 years. Demetrios ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.