His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew informed the Holy Synod in Constantinople, as reported by The National Herald, that he had a private, lengthy meeting with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece, Alexandra Papadopoulou, the former Greek Ambassador to the United States who is esteemed within the omogenia.
During this meeting, she expressed the concern of the Greek government – namely the Prime Minister’s concern – about the impact of Archbishop Elpidophoros’ tenure on the Greek American community.
Certainly, our insightful Patriarch must have known from his rich experience thus far that it was highly likely for these sensitive and confidential pieces of information to leak. Perhaps he did it precisely for that reason: to prepare the Holy Synod, Archbishop Elpidophoros, and our community for forthcoming decisions.
Moreover, perhaps he did it to share with them the responsibility for choosing Elpidophoros – a responsibility he also attributed directly to the Greek government and the official opposition – as well as for the Archbishop’s possible future transfer.
However, the essence of this significant – if not historical – event is not the revelation of the Patriarch’s conversation with the Greek Deputy Foreign Minister to the Holy Synod. It is the fact that Greece was led to the conclusion that it had a duty to intervene to safeguard the present and future of our community.
It is an act of great significance and a practical demonstration that the government’s leadership understands the role and importance of Hellenism abroad, especially the Greek-American community, for the Nation and its duty to ensure its future, rather than remaining a mere observer.
By securing its own interests, it simultaneously contributes significantly to safeguarding the interests of the Greek-American community, which, beyond its obvious dedication to serving the interests of the American homeland first, has an interest in preserving its ethnic identity, as other minorities do.
In the past, we had stated that the Patriarch cannot change archbishops ‘like he changes his shirts’. No one wants this, and it is not in anyone’s interest.
However, this cannot be absolute. You cannot fail to correct a mistake in order to avoid acknowledging it as a mistake.
We had also expressed our hope that the Archbishop would find the strength to dedicate himself to the problems of our communities. “We expected him to show love, to embrace, to unite, to make better choices of collaborators, rather than being focused on how he will eventually become a Patriarch…” we have written. The ecclesiastical authority [of the Archdiocese] should not act to divide but to unite,” we had said. “It should inspire by its example. It should harmonize. It should reconcile. It should overflow with spirituality,” we suggested.
Unfortunately, he did not do so, possibly because he does not believe it serves his plans.
We had also expressed hope that he would keep the necessary distance from the Turkish authorities in the United States and support the Phanar – the Ecumenical Patriarchate – without provoking the Community.
He did not do this either.
Are there still opportunities for him to do it now? It is never too late. If not for anything else, at least for his reputation.