The developments of Thursday, October 8, 2020 in the ecclesiastical life of the Holy Archdiocese and the Omogeneia, that is, the suspension of the current charter, the removal of the Metropolitan of New Jersey from that Metropolis and his ‘transfer’ to the Metropolis of Sardis, and the punishment of suspension meted out to Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, can only be described as historic.
But let us look at this triptych in some detail: as the dear readers will note, the issue of the revocation of the current charter of the Archdiocese was given priority and it was placed first on the official Patriarchal announcement, precisely because it is major and vital to the structure and life of the Church, and in a dynamic and unifying way.
It is no coincidence that the announcement comes at the same time as the statement of Archbishop Elpidophoros of America that “the Ecumenical Patriarchate gives us the great opportunity to envision and design our Church together in view of its 100th anniversary.”
The Archbishop also stated: “all together, clergy and laity, we will participate in a joint committee with our Patriarchate, and we will develop and complete a new plan with new perspectives on Orthodoxy in America for the next 100 years.”
I will say it once again: the system of Metropolitanization was wrong from the beginning and in fact proved to be extremely problematic, because it transformed the Archdiocese into a weak and divisive scattered village, and was also very expensive, to the point that the larger Church can no longer sustain it, since unfortunately instead of local Churches, manors were created surrounded by a cloak of religiosity.
Let me repeat that these were not fully autonomous and self-governing Metropolises, but were subordinate, though together constituting the Archdiocese of America, while their Metropolitans were a strange hybrid, something between auxiliary bishops and titular metropolitans, in other words an ecclesiological anomaly – and here is why: America is one, unified, and indivisible Ecclesiastical Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne, with one ruling hierarch-shepherd (ποιμενάρχη), as is the case with every local Church. In this case Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, is the only shepherd (ποιμενάρχης) of the Archdiocese of America. The rest were mere hierarchs entrusted with the pastoral care of their ecclesiastical areas. And the action taken some time ago by Metropolitan Nathaniel of Chicago, who while Archbishop Elpidophoros was at the Liturgy in Chicago instructed his deacon to commemorate the Archbishop as hierarch and himself as “shepherd” (ποιμενάρχη), was an incomprehensible ecclesiastical deviation.
And of course, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy Synod around him had every right to suspend the charter of the Archdiocese, because the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Synod are the Primary Authority (Πρωτουργός Αρχή), or the Granting Authority (Χορηγούσα Αρχή). I will also say that not only can they revoke the charter of an Ecclesiastical Eparchy, but also tomes of Autonomy and Autocephaly of local Orthodox Churches. What is mentioned from time to time by some ignorant people about the Church here and in Greece, and even by some small-minded, uneducated, and slanderous individuals, is really irrelevant to this matter.
And now we come to the other two decisions: The removal of Metropolitan Evangelos from New Jersey is really a painful situation for him, his relatives, and friends and acquaintances, because New Jersey is one thing, a large and vibrant Metropolis, and today’s Metropolis of Sardis is quite another. However, I must note here that we have been informed that Metropolitan Evangelos had received warnings, most of all from Archbishop Elpidophoros, but also from hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate both in writing and by telephone, and also from other acquaintances and friends in America who love and honor him, but in vain – unfortunately, he didn’t listen. In other words, to say it more directly, it was his own fault that he lost his Metropolis, because things should not have reached this extreme point.
As for the other hierarch punished with a suspension, Methodios of Boston, what applies there is the Biblical saying “it was warranted by what he did,” not only now, but through the years. He even has on his record a reprimand from the Ecumenical Patriarchate in the past, but as it turns out, “he didn’t come to his senses.” And now, he has been suspended from every liturgical Service, in other words, when he goes to a church he can neither officiate at the Vespers nor at the Divine Liturgy, or participate in any other sacrament, except to attend either from the Holy Altar or among the congregation. It is emphasized that suspension is considered a serious punishment for a hierarch: His Higher Ecclesiastical Authority, that is, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Synod, have revoked their trust from Metropolitan Methodios to the point that they simply do not allow him to perform any liturgical duties and services.
And he must thank God because that the worst didn’t happen to him, defrockment to the rank of the laity, because, as The National Herald revealed, his defrockment was even proposed in the Synod, but he was saved by His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the last moment.
And of course from now on his authority has been greatly diminished, because now in the consciousness of the clergy and the people he has been punished with a suspension, a punishment that is extremely serious for a hierarch.
What some foolish people let leak about mobilizations and reactions will further burden the position of Methodios, since the Ecumenical Patriarchate has proven that it does not fool around, but takes bold action.