First American Appointed to Orthodox Council

( [email protected] ) Mar 10, 2004 06:01 PM EST

ISTANBUL, Turkey – For the first time in the history of the Greek Orthodox Church since Turkey became a republic in 1923, six non-Turkish clerics were appointed to the Holy Synod – the council governing the worldwide church. The leader of America’s Greek Orthodox Christians hoped that this historical appointment, in which one American was seated among the tweleve, would ease the escalating power struggle that erupted between the Archdiocese of America and the central governing diocese located in Istanbul.

Last month, several prominent U.S. parishioners pressed for self-rule as they filed suit against the international head. They asked that the New York Supreme Court require that the U.S. archdiocese’s 1.5 million members obey its own governing charter. The plantiffs complained that the church’s hierarchy imposed a new governing charter last year without approval from delegates at a U.S. Clergy-Laity Congress, as specified by the original charter.

Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America expressed hope that the new appointment of an American bishop to the governing chair, would lead to a more sociable outcome.

"Even the people who went to the court they agreed that it (the appointment) was a good step," said Tuesday. "They said that we are somehow micromanaged (from Turkey). But now if you have a person of the Archdiocese, the archbishop himself, sitting at the Synod ... then you're not in the same condition."

In addition to the new appointments, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I’s plan to visit New York and New Jersey this Saturday may also help the situation.

“The visit shows again the love and the very special attention that the patriarchate and the patriarch personally pays to this part of the church," said Demetrios.