Spyridon
Archbishop of America  (1996-1999)

THE LEGACY

from Archbishop Spyridon's
speeches, encyclicals and other writings

« We cannot be found wanting in our work of dialogue and reconciliation with the other Christian Churches and Confessions. In these preeminently dialogic times, we are called upon to promote this important task according to the criteria of our Orthodox tradition, never forgetting the anguished prayer of the Lord of our Church: 'That they may all be one.' »

« The impasse of contemporary European civilization now presents a problem common to all European Churches. It is the ultimate reality that truly unites the Churches in the common and humble fulfillment of their responsibilities. Only through a joint ecumenical effort will the Churches be able to proclaim the truth of ecclesial universality, which is the only answer capable of unifying the fragmented life of today's European. Only through such an effort can the Churches integrate the image of the 'Kingdom' and 'the true way of being' into personal lives and into the deeply secularized social life of contemporary Europe. Only through that effort will they inform the new European politics and economics with their dynamic understanding of history, and their answers to the challenge of the uses and abuses pertaining to creation »

« With its collection of ethnic, racial, and religious groups, America - like Ephesus of old - is a microcosm of the rest of the world. We hope that you, the Greek Orthodox of the Americas, will continue to show the way to Orthodox unity. For American Orthodoxy consists not only of Greeks, but of Russians, Georgians, Albanians, Rumanians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Ukrainians, countless converts, and many others »

« The time for Orthodoxy has arrived. It is a time for love, a time for faith, a time for renewal. Our new spiritual order begins with each individual being reborn as part of the Ecumenical Orthodox Christian Church. And you in the Americas are called upon to lead the way »

« Renewal is the key and it is a most appropriate theme for this Congress. For it is only by renewal that we grow - only by renewal that we improve - only by renewal that we become more worthy of our Father, in whose image we were made »

« The Greek Orthodox Church here is a natural extension of the Patriarchate. And just as the Mother Church is the first See of the world Orthodoxy - with increased responsibilities, a special ministry and a primary role in the affairs of Orthodox Churches throughout the world - likewise the daughter church of the Americas has a special ministry in the New World, a ministry of relevance to all of us »

« We must take from the altar of the past the fire, not the ashes. But we cannot be satisfied merely to follow in the footsteps of the wise. We must be wise ourselves, and seek what they sought, and find what they found »

« I will spare no effort and I will use all available means for the broader proclamation of the message which emanates from this Ecumenical Throne, the authentic interpreter of the Tradition of the Church »

« I accept the mantle of responsibility for shepherding this highly esteemed Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne filled only with the mystery of God's love. 'We love Him, because He first loved us' (I John 4:19). It is to an active ministry of love that I fully commit myself without reservation, without apprehension, and without distinction »

« I profoundly believe that, as great and glorious as our past, there is even greater glory in our future. But only if we take to heart the central message of our Church: that in the resurrected Christ, we are all born again, we are all reconciled, we are all renewed »

« It is no betrayal to join ourselves to a new nation. But it would be a grave failing not to provide for the fruit of that union - the children of Orthodoxy in America. The time has come to think earnestly about our legacy to them »

« Our young people deserve a living tradition in which they can find spiritual sustenance. They deserve a refuge from the anxiety of modern, materialistic life. They deserve the comfort of belonging to a loving, spiritual family. And they deserve the strength that comes from enduring values »

« The greatest problem we face today is that the majority of our people in America marry persons not of the Orthodox Faith. (...) It is not so much a problem as it is a promise of things that can be. It is an opportunity. Let us take advantage of it, for a church that is open to all people is a church that grows »

« Our vision for the future is clear, because we travel in the light of the Phanar, which for 2,000 years as never waned or been extinguished. The Great Church of Christ is the beacon which burns brightly for each succeeding generation of Orthodox throughout the world. We are children of this ancient legacy of self-sacrificial love -- the love of the Holy Mother Church which continues to sustain and unite us even as we approach the third millennium »

« A legacy is not an inheritance to merely hold onto; it is a foundation on which to build. It is, therefore, our obligation to build on this legacy and not be content with merely being part of the American mainstream. Rather, our aim should be to witness in our American community to our Faith, and the best way to do that is to live our Faith »

« Many of us were born Orthodox and continued in this Tradition because, quite simply, that's just the way it was. This is not the reality for the children of this generation. They take hold of their freedom and, quite rightly, question everything, feeling no obligation to follow a tradition just because that's the way it has been »

« Since the foundation of this holy Archdiocese of America by the Ecumenical throne and up until more recent times, Monasticism has not been recognized and supported as it should have been. Indeed many maintain that there has been direct opposition to it as well »

« Athonite Monasticism not only survived but went through a great revival which continues to grow and to expand beyond the boundaries of that holy garden of the Mother of God. The recent establishment of sacred monasteries within the boundaries of our holy Archdiocese of America is not unrelated to this revival »

« Everything should be organized in accordance with the Orthodox tradition, so that Monasticism will not be seen as antagonistic of the other traditions of life and diakonia in the Church »

« Hellenism as daily experienced is the embodiment of our ecclesiastical Orthodoxy. Our ancient Greek heritage would have remained but a utopian ideology, or at best a theory relegated to discussion in academic institutions, without reference to its historical evolution in the ecclesiastical dramaturgy of the Divine Liturgy, the poetry/hymnology, iconography, sacred music as well as the art- and wisdom-loving patristic thought. This religio-cultural possession of ours is bountiful, and at the same time enduring and beneficent, especially in times of confusion and moral chaos »

« Father George Florovsky, perhaps the most distinguished Orthodox theologian of our century, had repeatedly asserted that the Greek language and culture cannot be divorced from Orthodox Christianity. In fact, the decline of the Greek language in Western Europe directly resulted in a series of misunderstandings and, in the end, the schism between the Eastern and Western Churches »

« The Church must finally provide the School with all those means necessary to remain in steady contact with Orthodox reality worldwide. HC/HC cannot accomplish its mission by remaining isolated as if the rest of the Orthodox Church did not exist, for we are part of that world. If we could remain intentionally isolated, this would be contrary to our Orthodox ecclesiology and our very being as Orthodox »

« Holy Cross must be the fountainhead for Orthodox Theology and the training ground par excellence for the priests of tomorrow for our Archdiocese. There can be no room for error when it comes to Holy Cross »

« In our Archdiocese, familiarity with the Greek language is on the wane, and with that the knowledge of and respect for Greek culture »

« Because we live at a time and in a nation in which respect for cultural diversity and ethnic origins is a defining characteristic of the educational system, it would be a shame for our Greek American community to dismiss precisely that which other religious and ethnic communities are struggling to maintain »

« The Church is not some secular enterprise, a business or federation of political interests »

« The Church is not a secular organization, or a corporation, or a club, but of the family of God »

« We are a corpus, not a corporation, and although we must responsibly conduct all our affairs in accord with civil law and procedures, let us never lose sight of the Mystery of Christ Who is in our midst, and calls us to live by faith, grace, hope, and above all, love »

« We are not a system of government, but a politevma, a spiritual commonwealth shared by all and destined to be shared with all the world »

« Is the local parish some sort of franchise (...) or the Body of Christ? »

« We often hear and speak of vision. But I ask you, is there any greater vision for our Archdiocese than to endow the Priesthood into the new millennium? We could share no greater goal. We could share no greater vision »

« The implications of opening our minds and hearts to the non-Orthodox spouses of our own people will have generational consequences for this Archdiocese. These sons and daughters of our Greek Orthodox families, the fathers and mothers of Greek Orthodox children must be embraced by the Church. We cannot wait any longer! »

« We want to have influence in our society, in the American religious and cultural scene. We want to be players on the stage of America and even world affairs. We want to take our rightful place as a major religious faith in the American Market-place of philosophical and religious ideas. I am here to tell you that only with a strong and united Archdiocese is this place available to us »

« I always considered the elevation of the Archdiocese's dioceses to metropolitanates, i.e. the enhancement of the administrative responsibilities of the hitherto 'diocesan' entities, as completely contrary to the notion of unity, a unity totally indispensable for the survival of the Greek American community in such a pluralistic country as America »

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