Many positive messages were sent to us through the interview of Archbishop Elpidophoros in both the Greek and English editions of The National Herald, from many parts of the United States, but also from the Phanar, Greece, and elsewhere. The subject that moved the readers above all was the continuation of the academic recognition of the School of Theology, for which the clergy and our faithful people of the Omogenia have special love and appreciation, because the School is the backbone of the Church. That's why, after all, it must be, like any spine, strong enough to be able to support the body and indeed its well-being.
The National Herald has dealt thoroughly in the past, but also recently, with the School, which its own institutional administrations and the Archdiocese unfortunately let down and brought it close to its end. It no longer makes sense to refer to specific names, clergy and laity, who literally brought the Church and the School to their knees. I emphasize once again that the responsibility lies not only with the former Archbishop, but also with the so-called Eparchial Synod, the Archdiocesan Council, and the Finance Committee with their well-known ‘leaders’.
The pathogens of the past must disappear completely. There are lessons to be learned, and I will explain them: Tenure should not be granted to clergy professors who afterwards drag the School into the courts because they were fired. Really, what is more sacred and essential, the priesthood or the teaching profession? And was this the ecclesiastical ethos taught to the students? For God's sake! Also, never give a contract to a priest for an administrative position such as the presidency of the School and force the School to pay him when he is dismissed, as if his ineffectiveness and the shipwreck to which he led the School were not enough.
The other topic of the interview that was impressive and noteworthy was the clergy pension fund. I was astonished listening to Archbishop Elpidophoros saying during our interview that "the explosive problem of the clergy pension fund did not let me sleep during the first months of my ministry in America. I knew that the funding deficit of about 65 million was constantly growing and would one day lead the fund to collapse."
Elsewhere, with prudence and understanding, Elpidophoros stressed that "I cannot blame the clergy either for their concern or for their hesitation, since an issue so vital for themselves, the elders, and their children, has been dealt with so far with so much indifference and so much opacity."
Undoubtedly, it was this mixture of indifference to the point of calamity, as well as incompetence that contributed to the catastrophe and the loss of precious years that led to bankruptcy spiritually, administratively, and of course financially.
I will never forget the unacceptable insult and unholy behavior of some priests in the Boston Clergy-Laity Congress who had the audacity in July 2018 to say to the then-treasurer of the Archdiocese, Michael Psaros, "go and find the money for our pension." I will emphasize once again that it was Psaros who purged the finances of the Archdiocese and located the collaborators of the former Archbishop, who was forced to expel them.
And one more thing, the millions that the Archdiocese withheld from the year 2006 towards the retirement program of the priests was not the money of either Archbishop Demetrios or his collaborators, but was the money of the communities, that is, money taken from the pious people of our Omogenia, to speak plainly.
And this money was managed by the Archdiocese and more specifically by Demetrios, the Archdiocesan Council, the Eparchial Synod, the ‘wise men’ of the Finance Committee, and of course, Jerry Dimitriou, who had become omnipotent and, as it turned out, completely uncontrollable.
And of course accountability must be pursued and answers should be given: Why didn’t the money go into the priests' pension fund? Where was it going? Where did it end up? How and where was it spent, and with whose approval? Accountability must be sought from Demetrios, Tsantikos, the members of the Eparchial Synod, the Finance Committee, and the entire regime that destroyed our Archdiocese.
However, Elpidophoros was also charged with the responsibility for this frighteningly chaotic situation; he is being stigmatized by some cesspools with ‘anonymous’ libel from ‘concerned parishioners,’ thinking that they are not known … instead of going into hiding.
As if all this chaos inherited by Archbishop Elpidophoros were not enough, the haunted construction site of the church of Saint Nicholas, the mortgaged buildings of the offices of the Archdiocese, the ruin at the Theological School, were also loaded upon him, along with the demands of their priestly syndicate for a time when they were the managers of their own fund. One wonders what kind of managers they were.
There is not the slightest doubt that Elpidophoros did not just find chaos, but erebus out of which he is succeeding in bringing the Archdiocese. And as he proves himself by succeeding and continuing to succeed, there will always still be left a few cesspools (βοθρώνες) here and in Greece stewing in their own juice and misery.