Also in Headline News

"The continued secrecy and lack of openness in negotiating the proposed charter has proven to be counterproductive. Such action will have far-reaching consequences regarding the relationship between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and will only hasten autocephaly," the press release cautioned.

"So much disappointment and discontent has been created by the process that was used," OCL President Alice Kopan said in a phone interview. "It's a sad commentary for the Greek Orthodox Church."

Kopan stressed that OCL had not yet seen the final document coming out of the charter talks. "But from what we know," she said, "the role of the laity appears to be diminished."

An article in the Orthodox Christian News Service, meanwhile, charged that a provision in the agreement is designed to limit the laity's say in Church decision-making. In the article, Stephen P. Angelides described the provision as a "legal maneuver designed to shield the GOA from lay insurgency and strengthen the Phanar's hold on the GOA"

A lay insurgency helped topple Archbishop Demetrios' predecessor, the controversial Archbishop Spyridon, in 1999.

But Huszagh, named in the article as the driving force behind the provision, denies that the intent was to limit laity participation. "As a lay person, I would under no circumstances support anything that would weaken or diminish the laity," Huszagh said.  The purpose of the clause, she said, was to untangle the GOA from certain state regulations. "It will exempt the Church from those requirements and allow it to run according to its own laws," Huszagh said.

She also expressed doubts that autocephaly is feasible. "You can't just go out and start a church by yourself," she said. "You have to have a canonical organization. How are they going to do that?  I'm not sure anyone's ready to declare themselves head of an autocephalous church."

Archbishop Demetrios: Honeymoon Over?

The GOA delegation's apparent failure to gain more autonomy is likely to dispel some of the goodwill Archbishop Demetrios has enjoyed since his appointment two years ago.  At the Clergy-Laity Conference last year, Demetrios sought to limit discussion of the proposed Charter, asking delegates to "trust" him.

Now he is vulnerable to accusations that he -- and the delegation in general -- gave in to the Phanar and did not push strongly enough for autonomy. Worse, some will charge that Demetrios led them to believe that he supported autonomy, when his actual position was more ambiguous.

"People still have faith in Archbishop Demetrios," OCL President Kopan said. "But there's a feeling of betrayal by many."

Hellenic Communication Service is conducting an online survey on issues relating to autonomy and the future of the Greek Orthodox Church in America. Survey results will be reported later this summer.

Diocesan Awards 2001

Greek Orthodox faithful who have provided outstanding service to their parishes were honored at the fifteenth annual Diocesan Awards dinner. The event, attended by more than 700 people, was held on June 10th in Randolph, MA.

How To Purchase Property in Greece

With patience, persistence and good legal advice, home-buying dreams of Greek-Americans can materialize, resulting in closer ties to ancestral lands and fine educational opportunities for youngsters. By Christos and Mary Papoutsy

What is the Divorce Rate for Greek Orthodox Couples?

During a period of 23 years over which figures were compiled by the Archdiocese, there were 121,587 marriages and 16,981 divorces. Using these figures alone, the divorce rate would be 14% of the total Orthodox marriages, falling far below the US national average of approximately 43%. By Christos and Mary Papoutsy

Thea Halo in Boston

"You are to leave this place. You will have three days to gather your things. You will take only what you can carry." With an officer's shouts, the three-thousand-year history of Pontic Greeks in Turkey came to a violent end. Stripped of everything she had ever held dear, young Sano saw her family members perish, one after the other. By Nina Gatzoulis