Monasticism in the Greek Archdiocese of America (A History of the Charter)

There is some confusion among those in the Greek Archdiocese of America regarding how the monasteries of the same jurisdiction are regulated. This is clearly put forward in the Charter of 2003 under Article 21 (http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/documents/charterpage). Though early on there were talks of the monasteries functioning as Athonite communities (http://www.goarch.org/news/goa.news537), we see from the Charter regulations that this is clearly not the case due to the impracticality of such a proposal. Though Mount Athos is under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, it also has a certain autonomous governance by the Holy Community (Ιερά Κοινότητα) which consists of a representative from each of the twenty monasteries, an executive committee of four members known as the Holy Administration (Ιερά Επιστασία) with the Protos as its head, and a Civil Governor appointed by the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs to supervise the function of the institutions and the public order. In contrast, each monastery in the Greek Archdiocese of America functions “under the direct canonical jurisdiction and supervision of the Hierarch in whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction they are located,” thus not sharing the same autonomy that Athos possesses. And of course, the differences between the monastic communites of Athos and the monastic communities of America are much wider on the everyday practical level as well.

Archimandrite Ephraim & Fr. Antonios

Article 21: Holy Monasteries

a. Monasteries and organized communities of monastics function according to the long established, canonical tradition and practice of the Church. As such, they are ecclesiastical institutions, functioning under the direct canonical jurisdiction and supervision of the Hierarch in whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction they are located.

Most of the Abbots and Abbesses with some of the monks and nuns from various monasteries outside the katholikon of St. Anthony's Monastery.
Most of the Abbots and Abbesses with some of the monks and nuns from various monasteries outside the katholikon of St. Anthony’s Monastery.

b. Monasteries are founded by the local Hierarch, following approval of the Eparchial Synod. Canonically, their administration and financial affairs are the responsibility of the local Hierarch, whose name is to be commemorated during Divine Worship.

The monks of St. Nektarios Monastery (NY) with Metropolitan Athanasios of Lemesos, Cyprus.
The monks of St. Nektarios Monastery (NY) with Metropolitan Athanasios of Lemesos, Cyprus.

c. The Monasteries that operate in the United States of America continue the long established monastic life and witness. They function according to the prevailing Monastic Law and the letter and the spirit of the Regulations that define their operation.

The monks of Holy Archangels Monastery (TX).
The monks of Holy Archangels Monastery (TX).

d. Regulations for the establishment, organization and operation of Monasteries shall be promulgated by the Eparchial Synod and approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Consecration of the Church at Life-giving Spring Monastery (CA).
Consecration of the Church at Life-giving Spring Monastery (CA).

For more information concerning the Charter of the GOA, read the following articles:

Katholikon at Holy Archangels monastery, TX.
Katholikon at Holy Archangels monastery, TX.
Chapel at St. Nektarios Monastery, NY.
Chapel at St. Nektarios Monastery, NY.

Chapel at Holy Trinity Monastery, MI.
Chapel at Holy Trinity Monastery, MI.

Chapel at holy Transfiguration Monastery, IL.
Chapel at holy Transfiguration Monastery, IL.

For those who admire the woodwork of the monasteries: http://www.eleftheriadi.gr/

Article 21 on the Monasteries from The Official Text of the Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America

Article 21
Holy Monasteries

a. Monasteries and organized communities of monastics function according to the long established, canonical tradition and practice of the Church. As such, they are ecclesiastical institutions, functioning under the direct canonical jurisdiction and supervision of the Hierarch in whose ecclesiastical jurisdiction they are located.

b. Monasteries are founded by the local Hierarch, following approval of the Eparchial Synod. Canonically, their administration and financial affairs are the responsibility of the local Hierarch, whose name is to be commemorated during Divine Worship.

c. The Monasteries that operate in the United States of America continue the long established monastic life and witness. They function according to the prevailing Monastic Law and the letter and the spirit of the Regulations that define their operation.

d. Regulations for the establishment, organization and operation of Monasteries shall be promulgated by the Eparchial Synod and approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

http://www.goarch.org/archdiocese/documents/charterpage

NOTE:

In 2004, 35 plaintiffs unsuccessfully sued Archbishop Demetrios and the Greek Archdiocese in an attempt to force it to invalidate the 2003 charter granted by Constantinople; their lawsuit stated that the Greek hierarchy had imposed the rewritten charter without approval from delegates at the national Clergy-Laity Congress, violating the terms of the 1978 charter. The main aim of the suit was to attempt to gain more autonomy from the Church of Constantinople, especially regarding the choice of the American Archdiocese’s primate.

The suit met with condemnation by the Greek hierarchy in America, which stated that the plaintiffs had “sued Christ Himself” (a quote from Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago). It was eventually dismissed by the Supreme Court of the State of New York, on grounds that the Greek Archdiocese was hierarchical and therefore acting within its proper bounds, that the courts did not have the authority to intervene in such matters.

In The National Herald, April 5-6, 2003, it was reported that the Eparchial Synod of America, recently discussed "...the monasteries established all over the U.S. by the former abbot from Mt. Athos, Fr. Efraim. It has been said that some sort of fundamentalist movement with a cult philosophy has been advocated by the followers of Efraim, and is having an impact among the clergy and theology students at Holy Cross School of Theology."
In The National Herald, April 5-6, 2003, it was reported that the Eparchial Synod of America, recently discussed “…the monasteries established all over the U.S. by the former abbot from Mt. Athos, Fr. Efraim. It has been said that some sort of fundamentalist movement with a cult philosophy has been advocated by the followers of Efraim, and is having an impact among the clergy and theology students at Holy Cross School of Theology.”
Most of the Abbots and Abbesses with some of the monks and nuns from various monasteries outside the katholikon of St. Anthony's Monastery.
Most of the Abbots and Abbesses with some of the monks and nuns from various monasteries outside the katholikon of St. Anthony’s Monastery.