Monday, May 11 marked one year since the unanimous election of Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Prousa to the Archbishopric Throne of America. I remember it was Saturday, May 11 last year when His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew wholeheartedly recommended to the Holy Synod that it elect Elpidophoros as shepherd and teacher of the Church of America.
Let me note one more time that the election of a new Archbishop was delayed despite the fact that the Archdiocese of America was suffering from total bankruptcy – and I don’t mean here just financial bankruptcy but also spiritual, administrative, and academic bankruptcy. And those responsible for the catastrophe were well known. The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which should be the pride of the entire Orthodox Church, had become, unfortunately, its shame. Those responsible for the disaster should now at least hide and keep quiet. Of course that applies to former Archbishop Demetrios, but also to the hierarchs and to the appointed laymen of the committees including the Finance Committee and the entire so called Archdiocesan Council.
With the election a year ago of the smiling and approachable Elpidophoros a messianic hope was born for the ‘salvation’ of the Archdiocese and its institutions because the ‘First’ (ο Πρώτος) is not only supposed to coordinate and preside, but also to initiate and plot new courses and paths and to generate new ideas and visions – in other words to be the leader. And because we are talking about ‘salvation’, Archbishop Elpidophoros doesn’t have the right to fail, simply because it will be our historic end.
When Elpidophoros arrived in America he found himself not simply in a chaos but in an Erebus. Just imagine that His Eminence didn’t even find a home to live in because Demetrios – by the way where does Demetrios now live? – and his cronies sold Archbishop Iakovos’ home in one of the most prominent locations in Rye, New York, right at the entrance of a country club but when the real estate market was at its bottom. Yes, they sold it for $3.0 million dollar, out of which they spent $750,000 to fix the roof of the Archdiocese – one would think that the roof was made out of gold! And the rest –$2,250,000 – never appeared in any financial report. It is really an unacceptable excuse for the members of the Eparchial Synod to say that they didn’t know. It is really a joke. These are cheap excuses just to mislead our faithful, and by doing so they lose any credibility that remained after the lies and hypocrisy that shadowed our Church under Demetrios.
Just a quick reminder here that I am not only saying these things now that Demetrios is gone. I said the same things when he was in power and all the sycophants were agreeing with him and playing the role of rubber stampers.
Even the headquarter buildings of the Archdiocese have been mortgaged to obtain a loan from a bank. My God! As if that were not bad enough, Elpidophoros found the Holy Cross School of Theology on its death bed. If the Archbishop and George Cantonis didn’t intervene the School would have lost its academic accreditation.
And how can one forget the drama and shame of the unfinished St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in Manhattan? Even today two hierarchs and some deluded individuals of like mind and level are trying to cause troubles simply because they don’t want Archbishop Elpidophoros to succeed. They claim it is going to cost too much money. What hypocrisy! What small mindedness! Elpidophoros inherited the problem that Demetrios and his cronies – including of course the hierarchs – created, and now that Elpidophoros managed to save the shrine by raising the donations needed to finish it, he has to deal with these ‘wise guys.’ I think His All Holiness should not delay any longer but should begin with the ‘promotions’ and transfers. I think the message here is clear: Enough is enough. This Church and Community must move forward.
The Archdiocese of America, our Archdiocese, was in great need of hope, vision, perspective, uplift, and an exit from desperation and desolation. Elpidophoros in just one year created a new atmosphere of trust and accomplishment. Let me repeat one more time that a lot of work lies before him, but our Church is comprised of faithful, goodhearted, talented, and decent people who know about volunteerism, donations, good will – and other virtues that distinguish Hellenism in America, a Church and a Community that deserve the best things and the best persons to be their leaders. And Elpidophoros can be such a leader.