Monday, June 22 marked a historic ecclesiastical event – the completion of one year from the day His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America ascended the Archieratical Throne of the Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York to be enthroned as Archbishop, father, and teacher in the faith of the local Church in America.
I didn’t use the word ‘father’ accidentally, but because according to Orthodox Theology and Ecclesiology the Bishop (O Επίσκοπος) first and above all is “a father” full of love and affection for all without any exception. The Bishop is the father of “the reasonable flock” of Christ that is the Church, meaning us – the Body of Faithful. Yes, we, the People of God, are the Church. It is not the nave, nor the administrative bodies, neither the hierarchy nor the clergy as we have so mistakenly become used to thinking. They are also members of the Church, but with the district charisma of the priesthood.
The election and enthronement of Archbishop Elpidophoros was really the dawn of new holy, historic, and blessed day. It was a day pf joy, celebration, and hope because it marked the resurrection of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which is the biggest and most prominent Ecclesiastical Eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It was a day for which our faithful people were waiting for so long.
That is why on that Saturday, June 22, 2019, all the generations had gathered at Holy Trinity Cathedral because a spiritual father and leader came from the Queen City of Constantinople.
Elpidophoros is not only a dynamic leader but at the same time he is a friend and a brother, with a constant natural smile on his face, approachable and down to earth. He came to heal wounds, to unite the divisions, to become the guidepost towards the lifting and the transformation of our Archdiocese and its institutions from their multiple bankruptcies – spiritual, financial, academic, and administrative.
His election and enthronement was a high point in the life of our Church and Greek-American Community because the presence, the statute and the role of the Archbishop of America is of pivotal importance because he is the First (O Πρώτος), the Primate if you wish, of the local Church in America – to put it in more theological terms.
With the election and enthronement 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 (O 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 be ahead of his time, as he proved with the initiation of the use of multiple spoons for Holy Communion. And because we are talking about ‘the salvation’ of the Archdiocese, 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.
No one should forget that Archbishop Elpidophoros is the par excellence shepherd (ποιμενάρχης) of the entire Archdiocese. As I have stated many times in my writings the Metropolises are not autonomous and self-governed (αυτόνομες και αυτοδιοίκητες) but they belong to the Archdiocese which is one, unified, and undivided Ecclesiastical Eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne. Today’s ‘strange’ Metropolitanate system was tried and proved to be ineffective but also dangerous and threatening to the very unity of our Church in America.
It is of special value what Archon Michael Psaros said last week in his extensive and substantial interview with The National Herald about Archbishop Elpidophoros: “His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros has exceeded all expectations in his first year. He came to America from Constantinople in a time of crisis. His leadership and decisive action in response to the crisis are truly remarkable. He undertook these actions after analysis, thoughtful consideration, and consultation. The critical revelation is that he actually made decisions. This may be difficult for our Faithful to understand, but so many difficult and necessary decisions were not made for over a decade, and the result was near catastrophic. His Eminence exhibited faith, wisdom, judgement, courage, sensitivity, and decisiveness in his first year.”
Nobody should forget that it was Michael Psaros who discovered the financial irregularities in the administration of the Archdiocese under the former Archbishop Demetrios and demanded action and investigations. It was he who began the necessary purge of the Archdiocese.