ORLANDO, Fla. - The Administrative Committee of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese rejected the resolutions proposing that three bishoprics (Boston, Pittsburgh and San Francisco) be elevated to the status of metropolitanates on Monday.
During the proceedings of the Archdiocese’ 34th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress, an attempt by several lay delegates to force discussion of the issue was denied by Committee Chairman Retired Vice Admiral Michael Kalleres (Jacksonville, Florida). "As far as I can tell, this is a moot discussion." The delegates were reminded that since the proposed resolutions were a canonical matter, the Congress was not authorized to deal with them.
The chairman’s decision not to entertain discussion was based on a letter from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, as well as an article submitted as an expert opinion.
In a June 19 letter to Archbishop Spyridon, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew stated that after three months of careful consideration, the unity of the Archdiocese should remain intact. Referring to an official decision announced by the Patriarchate on 24 November 1997, the Patriarch emphatically reiterated that the territorial boundaries and administrative structure of the Archdiocese "remain the same."
Creating another metropolitanate would serve to undermine the unity of the Archdiocese and weaken its administrative structure.
The expert opinion was offered by Vlassios Pheidas, a world-renowned scholar of Canon Law at the University of Athens. In Professor Pheidas’ article, Canons 8 of the First Ecumenical Council (325), 12 of the Fourth Ecumenical Council (451) and 34 of the Holy Apostles clearly and indisputably indicate that the creation of more than one metropolitanate in the same province leads to rivalry among bishops. Pheidas also referred to the great Byzantine canonists of the twelfth century, John Zonaras and Antiochian Patriarch Theodore Balsamon to support his arguments.
After it was established that the proposed resolutions were related to canonical and doctrinal matters, Vice Admiral Kalleres rebuffed further attempts at discussion. The Archdiocese Charter and Uniform Parish Regulations clearly state that canonical and dogmatic issues are not within the realm of the Congress to address, he pointed out.
Several attempts were subsequently made to appeal the chairman’s decision, but Metropolitan Isaiah, who presides over the Diocese, defended Kalleres’ decision: "We have to remember that there is a distinction between Charter regulations and the holy Canons of the Church," Metropolitan Isaiah said. The obvious implication was that the holy Canons supercede the Charter.