US archbishop defends Synod appointment

ISTANBUL – The leader of Greek Orthodox Christians in America said he hoped his appointment to the top governing council of his church in Turkey could help curb demands for greater self-rule for the American Church. In an interview with The Associated Press, Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America said he hoped his appointment to the Holy Synod, which is based in the Patriarchate in Istanbul, would help improve understanding between the governing council and the American Church. Some prominent parishioners in the United States demanding greater self-governance for the American Church last month filed suit at the New York State Supreme Court, claiming the hierarchy imposed a new governing charter last year without approval from delegates at a national Clergy-Laity Congress, as required. «Even the people who went to the court agreed that (the appointment) was a good step,» Demetrios said Tuesday. «They said that we are somehow micro-managed (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.» Demetrios criticized the decision to take the matter to court and said further self-rule for the American Church was possible in the future. «It’s a matter of just maturing and progressing,» he said. Demetrios added that he believed his appointment to the Synod and Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios I’s visit to New York and New Jersey that begins on Saturday carried a message to the Church in the United States. «Both items are really contributing to an enhancement of the understanding of the perception that we have about patriarchs here,» Demetrios said. The visit «shows again the love and the very special attention that the Patriarchate and the patriarch personally pay to this part of the Church.»

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