ATHENS – Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece refused to meet with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in Athens on October 5, saying he didn’t have time due to the meeting of Holy Synod of all the Hierarchs of the Church of Greece who, among others things were focused on electing a new metropolitan for Larissa.
The meeting between the two prelates had been arranged long ago, ever since the Patriarchal visit to Greece was finalized. Patriarch Bartholomew started in Thessaloniki and from there to Crete for the 50th anniversary of the Orthodox Academy of Crete, with a final stop for one and one half days in Athens, where he was honored by the Hellenic Parliament regarding his efforts for the protection of Natural Environment and also by the Association of Constantinopolitans of Greece.
The National Herald has learned that on October 4, the eve of the scheduled meeting, Archbishop Ieronymos sent an archimandrite in charge of the protocol of visitors to Bartholomew to inform him that Ieronymos was busy and didn’t have any time to meet with him. Ieronymos did not show basic clerical and ecclesiastical protocol by calling the patriarch to speak with him directly. He also did not attend the event at Parliament that honored Bartholomew. Instead, becoming the first archbishop in Athens’ history to behave in this manner, his actions may be perceived as scornful to the patriarch and the office he holds, TNH has learned.
Ieronymos said “we love our Patriarch, we love our Patriarchate, we respect. We support it as much as we can. We love our prime minister, we love all our politicians, and if we have a chance to say a word we help and support them, but we have to emphasize that above all we love the Church and the country.”
High-ranking officials from both the Patriarchate and the Church of Greece told TNH that the real reason for Ieronymos’ cancelling the meeting is the dispute between the Athens Archdiocese and Patriarchate regarding the Propona Estate – with the nave of St. George, Sts. Anargyri, and St. Fotini – in Kifissia. Initially, it was donated to the Archdiocese, but due to neglect, the donor reversed his will and instead donated it to the Patriarchate. Ieronymos then sued the Patriarchate and Bartholomew in civil court, and lost. The Supreme Court of Athens ruled in favor of the Patriarchate.
Thus, it appears this is the reason for Ieronymos’ recent behavior.