The Next Archbishop: Process of Succession and Election

His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The processes of succession and election of the next Archbishop of America has started to be discussed widely and more frequently within the Greek-American community judging from the many messages and questions I receive about the topic, particularly from readers of this newspaper.

Included among the inquirers are many members of the Archdiocesan Council, of the Leadership 100, of parish councils (including presidents), prominent academicians, and high-profile business leaders who are donors and great benefactors of the Archdiocese.
There are also many priests who ask and wonder, though they insist on anonymity.
I had written about this process in the past, but in a general sense. Now, a few days after Archbishop Demetrios celebrated his 89th birthday, I will be more specific.

The election of the archbishop of America is the exclusive privilege of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, because Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is an Ecclesiastical Eparchy of the Patriarchate.

If the Archdiocese becomes “widowed” or if the patriarch decides at any point, he can convene a Holy Synod at the Phanar and select a new archbishop.

That’s the way it happens, as it did in 1996 and 1999 with the elections of Archbishops Spyridon and Demetrios, respectively. No one from the Archdiocese will be asked, nor the Eparchial Synod, nor the Archdiocesan Council, and certainly not the clergy or the laity.

Patriarch Bartholomew will convene the Holy Synod and tell its members that this is going to be the archbishop of America “we wish him to please God and the people.” Immediately the triprosopon (the three-ballot ticket) will be formed in which Bartholomew will put his “chosen one,” and two more irrelevant hierarchs will be added as “filler.” The Synod members will go to the St. George Patriarchal Cathedral and vote, just to follow the formalities. The election will already have been decided and the Synod will simply rubber-stamp it unanimously. That in recent years most of the elections were unanimous says a lot.

The bells of St. George church will toll, the “Minima,” which is the acceptance announcement, will be read and accepted by the newly elected archbishop, whom the Patriarch will have housed in a hotel in Constantinople. He will be brought to the Phanar just in time for the announcement.

Shortly thereafter, an official news release will be sent to the media announcing to the world the new archbishop of America.

As far as who is going to be elected, the answer is simple: the one Bartholomew wants and whoever is considered more qualified “for the needs of the Mother Church.”
We should never forget, though, that God has the last word.


  1. @Mr. Kalmoukos – Thank you for having the courage and passion to bring the subject of church into the light…i am sure it’s not without scrutiny!
    And let’s not forget the Laity ( the people of God ) who have served faithfully in the past and continue to serve unselfishly with zeal and with grace and with humility to build up the body of Christ in our communities. Let’s not forget the time spent away from our families, the traveling to and from church, and constant donations to our parishes to maintain, in most cases, decaying structures, properties, and an over-inflated Archdiocesan budget. Our dollars matter – whatever the amount!

    My Yia-Yia and Papou may they rest in peace, would be embarrased and hesitant to call themselves members of the Greek Orthodox Church of America if they were alive today. Starting with Kimisis Tis Theotokou in Brooklyn and then continuing their diakonia at St. Demetrios and St. Catherines in Astoria, Queens, my Yia-Yia and Papou served wholeheartedly for almost sixty years. The era they new, an era of vitality and unity does not exist anymore. It is what it is!

    I have great respect for the process, however, appointing a new Archbishop will not make one bit of difference if God’s people (the Laity) do not turn their attention to Christ and His great commission, “Go make disciples of all nations”, exercise His most important commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself”, and labor and serve in His vineyard – diakonia.

    My love for the Orthodox faith is immeasurable in every sense of the word. I feel that it is extremely important to make every effort to preserve our faith so that our children, and hopefully their children can share this same passion and love. That same love I witnessed through the eyes and actions of my Yia-Yia and Papou.

    With love in Christ

  2. It seems to me that the last sentence (“God has the last word”) contradicts the entire logical process of your article; if Bartholomew will pick the one he likes “for the needs of the Mother Church,” is he the one God likes also? Does the patriarch speak for God, or we have a new dogma of “infallibility” like the R/Catholics?

  3. @Tim-Good Point!
    Who is qualified and worthy in the eyes of God? Does anyone truly believe they are worthy and qualified?
    Only Jesus Christ who was crucified on a cross for all of humanities sins and our salvation is worthy.

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