Meeting leaves Orthodox laity, hierarchy at odds

NEW YORK (AP) -- The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America approved new parish rules at its national Clergy-Laity Congress last week, angering lay people seeking more influence in how the denomination is governed.
The reform group Orthodox Christian Laity said the new regulations unfairly increase the power of the archbishop and his appointees over policy-making and finances, including whether a parish's charter can be revoked. The group accused the church hierarchy of pushing delegates to quickly approve the document in violation of archdiocesan rules.
A spokesman for the archdiocese did not return a call seeking comment.
The parish regulations effectively implement a new church governing charter that is the subject of a legal battle in New York State Supreme Court.
Orthodox Christian Laity funded a lawsuit filed in February asking the court to block the new charter. The document keeps power over key decisions in the hands of Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who has direct jurisdiction over the U.S. archdiocese.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit want the U.S. church to be more self-governing. Two of the plaintiffs say they were denied access to the national meeting in New York.
The Clergy-Laity Congress, held every two years, is the church's legislative body and this year drew about 1,700 delegates. The archdiocese claims about 1.5 million members.

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