The time has come for Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, to pick the next archbishop of America. The change is long overdue and the delay has taken a hefty toll on the Greek diaspora in the United States.
On top of being effectively left without a leader, the members of the community were also subjected to an extended period of deterioration, navel-gazing and discord. Senior members of the community are disappointed and have withdrawn from civic matters. Financial support for purposes related to the Greek community has dwindled to zero. There are calls for transparency and for taking sincere stock on what has occurred in recent years.
In any case, it is the patriarch who will have the final say on the day after, with full awareness of the situation and of the repercussions on the influence of the Phanar. Those who found comfort in inertia and those who are wary of real change are championing middle-of-the-road solutions. They are pushing for “transitional” solutions that will only secure the perpetuation of the sick status quo and the protection of clergy who are not exactly known for their integrity. They have good reason to advance such solutions.
Should the diaspora fail to turn the page, the Hellenism of America will be lost, Athens will lose a significant power multiplier and the Phanar will be weakened. Athens officials are aware of the problem and they ought to deal with it, although it does not appear that important in light of other current developments.
The patriarch is known to be a somewhat obstinate man. This is perhaps why he wanted to change the helm at the Archdiocese of America on his own terms and pace. One can only hope that this same obstinacy will help him make an enlightened decision that will safeguard an institution that he has been serving his entire life.