Greek Archbishop Speaks of Faith, Culture

September 30, 2000

Source: The Houston Chronicle

On September 30, 2000, The Houston Chronicle published an article which reported that, "Archbishop Demetrios, spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, wants the 1.5 million members to share their faith and culture. 'Orthodoxy by nature is a church that is not selfishly turned in on itself,' the archbishop said during his first visit to Houston last week. 'It is an absolute necessity for this church, if it is going to be genuine, to reach out continuously. By reaching out I don't mean any propaganda attempts. I mean reaching out, spreading out and sharing with other people what you have.' After all, it was the classic Greek culture that developed democratic institutions and formed a society that deeply influenced other ancient cultures, he noted. The scholarly Demetrios, 72, has been leading the American church for a year. He replaced Archbishop Spyridon, who was forced to resign in 1999 by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the Istanbul-based spiritual leader of the community of Orthodox Christian branches. Spyridon's tumultuous three-year administration had been marked by bitter criticism of his heavy-handed authoritarian leadership style. Demetrios described his own leadership approach as based on truth and love. 'If you don't love the people, no style can save you,' the primate said with only a slight hint of his native Greek accent. If you don't deal with the truth, you will be caught up in very negative things and you are not going to be saved. You have to be always genuine, sticking to the truth, acting honestly, respecting and listening to everybody.'"