John Catsimatidis asks Patriarch Bartholomew for an audience

(July 7, 1999)

His All Holiness,
The Ecumenical Patriarch
Bartholomew

Your All Holiness:
I submit this letter to Your All Holiness after having spoken with most of the members of the Executive Committee who echo the same concerns that all of us feel here in United States of America.

Ever since I accepted, with Your blessing the responsibility of the presidency of the Archdiocesan Council, I have worked very hard with His Eminence and the Council's Executive Committee to help bring greater unity and love to the Church in America.

Many years ago, when You were Metropolitan of Chalcedon, we had lunch together (along with my Koumbaros, Father Alexander Karloutsos), and we had a dream. We dreamed that one day world Orthodoxy would renew its unity, strength and greatness. When You were elected Ecumenical Patriarch, we saw this dream begin to materialize.

Since that time, the Church in America appears to have reached a dangerous crossroad, which brings Her to the brink of creating a serious problem for our dream. This, in turn, could hurt Orthodoxy throughout the world because I believe that as the Church in America goes, so goes the Orthodox Church of the world.

I would add that much to my dismay, I have received many calls from governmental officials in Washington DC, who are very concerned about what is perceived to be happening with the Church in America. I have also heard the rumbling in Greek newspapers concerning possible major changes which might be pending for our Church here.

Such rumbling disturbs the peace and tranquillity of the Church in America and stifles her ability to do the work that she could do. Certain forces capitalize on these rumors and the confusion that they breed, which causes unrest among the faithful and does not contribute to the good of the Church whether here or in the Phanar.

Your All Holiness, since my role is primarily that of an advisor, I have always tried to offer the best possible counsel I can. I am of the opinion that, whatever major changes that are going to be made, should be made at least after some consultation with the appropriate representatives of the Archdiocesan Council. I thing this also gives credence to the very Charter and Uniform Parish Regulations that Your All Holiness has asked us to all respect.

I do not believe that the world should view the Center of World Orthodoxy as a place which is influenced by the loudest voices and the biggest checks. This is not the way of the Church.

Out of my deep sense of duty, therefore, I humbly request an audience with Your All Holiness to discuss how the current Executive Committee and I might help to bring a better picture of just how things are in the Church of America at this present moment. Awaiting Your All Holiness' response and the granting of an audience as soon as possible, I remain,

Your All Holiness' loving son in the Lord,

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John Catsimatidis
Wednesday, 7 July 1999