Hellenic Communication Service Announces Results of Recent Surveys

By Christos and Mary Papoutsy, founders and publishers of Hellenic Communication Service.

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Location of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

40% of the respondents indicated that the Archdiocese
should be moved to the Boston area.

25% felt that it should stay in New York

20% wanted it to be moved to Chicago

10% indicated that it should be moved to Washington, D.C.

0% opted for moving the Archdiocese to California

Among the comments given by respondents to this survey were a number of interesting remarks. One viewer from the Boston Diocese wrote that he chose Chicago because he liked the idea of the Archdiocese being more accessible to all of the Dioceses: "The Archdiocese should be the heart and center of the whole Greek Orthodox Church of America. I'm not certain that relocation is the answer. If so, a physical location in the "heartland" of our nation could not only represent, but actually facilitate the Archdiocese ability to be the heart and center of the church and make it more accessible to all diocese and parishes." Another respondent from Boston said, "Why move the Archdiocese now after 60 years? Keep it in New York." Numerous viewers from around the country indicated that the most logical location, if the Archdiocese were to be moved, would be at Brookline, at the Hellenic College/Holy Cross Theological Seminary, where acres of land are available for a new, more efficient facility.

Results of this survey will be mailed to the Archdiocese and all Dioceses throughout the United States, with the recommendation from the publishers of HCS that a Blue Ribbon Committee be formed to study the location and functions of the Archdiocese for action in the future.

GOA Sexual Abuse Policy

80% of viewers answered "no" to the question of whether or not the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has a standardized, comprehensive reporting policy and procedures manual for cases of sexual misconduct and abuse. The remaining 20% said that they didn't know if the GOA had a manual for handling cases of sexual misconduct and abuse.

100% of viewers, nevertheless, thought that the Archdiocese should institute a policy if it does not yet have one.

100% of respondents said that, to their knowledge, their Diocese and local Parish did not have written policies or manual on reporting sexual abuse or misconduct and that they should all have these policies.

A majority of respondents felt that all new staff and volunteers, who work with children, as well as all priests undergo background checks -- before ordination.

Written comments by viewers on this issue of sexual abuse nicely serve to illustrate the flood of remarks sent to HCS: "We know that most, if not all, abuse cases occur within a relationship of trust. The abuser takes advantage of that trust to position . . . [himself or herself] to be able to commit the abuse. This trust can and does have a lasting and devastating effect on the abused. Not even one clergy member should remain in the clergy after an abuse of any kind is committed. How could he ever be effective as a 'Spiritual Father?' Also, no staff member or volunteer, etc., should remain in employment. Both groups should also be prosecuted and the Church must absolutely stand for no tolerance of such acts. I agree [that] we need to screen for potential abusers. This subject requires the Church to repent and make matters right with regard to previously abused victims, and to be vigilant to prevent present and future abuses. This grave and serious situation requires serious attention. If we put individuals above the law, because they are ordained, or to avoid a scandal, we do disservice to all the faithful, to the church, the Scripture, and indeed, the Lord."

Another respondent, an adult Assistant Boy Scout Master, wrote: ". . . our policy in Scouting is that one adult should be with two scouts at all times, without exception. In other words, if an adult scout leader has to go to another area of a campsite, two scouts must accompany the leader at all times for verification. So, in our Orthodox Church, I believe that this same policy should be in effect at all times."

Acceptance of New Charter for Greek Orthodox Church of America

80% of respondents said that the new charter would not affect our culture, while the remaining 20% said that it would.

In considering the possibility of His All Holiness seizing Parish property after the acceptance of the proposed new charter, as suggested by OCL literature, the response of viewers was mixed and divided about equally into "yes," "no," and "don't know."

Responses to the issue of possible reduced clergy/lay input were divided about equally among all possible answers.

Some of the salient comments were as follows:

"The new charter will not negatively affect our culture because, at our local church, we are entirely free to decide our destiny."

". . . [no, the new charter would not affect our culture, since] our unique culture still maintains the Hellenism within the Orthodox faith. To the contrary, the OCL organization seeks to remove the title 'Greek' from the 'Greek Orthodox Church of America' and thusly refer to it as [the] American Orthodox Church. The Greeks and Greek-Americans oppose this."

"Federal Law prohibits any takeovers of properties by a foreign entity. Historically, the churches already 'belong to the Patriarchate' and after all these years, why hasn't the Patriarch taken them over?"

". . . the new charter would make us just like the Roman Catholics and they close and take what they want no matter what the parish priest or people want or say."

Re-opening of the Theological School of Halki

100% of the survey respondents said that they would financially support the Theological School of Halki if it were re-opened.

100% did not believe that the reopening of Halki would dilute financial aid to Hellenic College and Holy Cross School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts.

100% indicated their support in sending candidates to the priesthood from the United States and that scholarship assistance should be make available to seminarians who want to attend [Halki Theological School].

Overall, comments about the reopening of the Halki School indicate staunch support for the School, with no dissenters.

The staff and administration of Hellenic Communication Service would like to thank all of the viewers who responded so quickly and articulately to the survey questions posted over the last couple of months. It is clear that these issues are significant ones that an overwhelming majority of respondents wish to be addressed. HCS will continue to provide an opportunity for viewers to voice their opinions on these topics and others in the upcoming weeks and months. Watch for other upcoming articles and surveys. -- Christos and Mary Papoutsy

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