ATHENS – The newly and unanimously elected Archbishop Elpidophoros of America granted an interview to the leading Athens newspaper Kathimerini. He touched on a number of issues regarding the Archdiocese of America and the Greek-American Community.
Elpidophoros is determined to put the finances of the Archdiocese in order, so that the management of the donations of the faithful and the major donors are fully transparent. Among his first priorities is the completion of the completion of construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at Ground Zero in New York within a year’s time. He said that “St. Nicholas Church is an issue of crucial importance. It is a matter of national pride, an issue of honor for the Archdiocese of America. This issue shall be resolved once for all. It should actually have been settled before my enthronement, because it reflects who we are in American society, since it is built at a very important location, Ground Zero”.
In his interview with Kathimerini Archbishop Elpidophoros stated that he will support from his new position not only the rights of Hellenism all over the world, but also the Hellenic national issues, in cooperation with Greek-American and Cypriot-American Organizations.
One of the first things he plans to do is to broaden the horizons of Orthodoxy into the American mainstream. He said “Let us not confine ourselves to Greek Orthodoxy, let us open up to American society and to the rest of our Orthodox brothers of whatever origin in America. This will give us wings. He said “another important issue is the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston – it is the seed nursery that nurtures the officials of the Archdiocese. The third issue is the economic problem of the Archdiocese.”
Archbishop Elpidophoros promised complete transparency as to donations to the Archdiocese, confirming the use of the standard methods that every single American organization uses, including audits of what has been done up to now.”
On national issues, the new Archbishop of America emphasized that he himself is ready to help the Greek-American organizations lobbying efforts to promote Greek interests, saying, “One thing I have learned from our Patriarch is to raise my voice whenever I see that Orthodoxy is being oppressed and its freedoms are restricted.”
The Archbishop also made reference to relations with Turkey, stating that Greece and Cyprus are “doomed” to have friendly relations with the former, because any tension shall be disastrous for all of them.
Speaking about the Ecclesiastic “Cold War” that broke out on the issue of the granting of the status of Autocephaly to the Church of Ukraine, he stated that “the relations with Russia are a very sensitive issue,” while he stressed that Russian propaganda has created bridgeheads to Greece and the Balkans. “The Ukrainian issue is not only an ecclesiastic one. The ecclesiastic part is only a dimension of it. The Ukrainian issue is a very sensitive one for the Russians, from a geostrategic, energy, military, and ecclesiastic point of view,” stressing that this geopolitical game preexisted and was not caused by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.”
He also said that after his enthronement, a visit of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to America, possibly a meeting with President Trump as well, is being scheduled. He said those will be the first tests of his administration.
The Archbishop also said that as his legacy to the future, he would like to bequeath a worthy successor: “I wish to raise the Archdiocese to its rightful place, because it is the most prominent of the Eparchies of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the best thing it has to display abroad. May the new succeeding generation exceed me and all the previous Archbishops.”