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Columnists

Analysis: Thunder and Lightning Over the Charter

The rapid diffusion throughout the United States of the revelatory article in the Greek Edition of The National Herald on the Charter of the Archdiocese titled: ‘The suspension of the Charter of the Archdiocese will be lifted; it will remain intact,” literally struck the Community like a bolt of lightning and clap of thunder. It was posted on our online edition www.ekirikas.com on the afternoon of Thursday, June 9, shortly after the end of the work of the Synodal Committee of the Phanar on the Eparchies of the Throne Abroad.

Of course, I knew the magnitude of the anxiety and concern that existed in the plentitude of the Church of America, among both clergy and laity, about the untimely and untested moves of Archbishop Elpidophoros. Those, unfortunately, had put the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Patriarch Bartholomew personally in an extremely difficult position, as Elpidophoros was blaming the Patriarch for what he himself had said and announced.

Of course, the suspension of the Charter on Thursday, October 8, 2020 was done without a prior basic consultation or even briefing of the Eparchial Synod in America and the Archdiocesan Council. These bodies supposedly have an institutional role and important responsibilities in the Church of America. This action threatened a conflict with the relevant American authorities, and even risked losing the non-profit status of the Archdiocese in general, which would have been a disaster.

Let us now leave aside the rebus of littleness of some of Elpidophoros’ personnel choices, both at the episcopal level and in other institutional positions, such as the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, the clerical leadership of the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, the clerical leadership even of the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in New York, and of the Department of Religious Education, to name a few.

For now, I will avoid references to the School of Theology because this painful story is unfortunately the ongoing drama of our Church in America, which needs special articles in due course.

So, at the moment when Elpidophoros has proven over these three years that he is not even able to choose capable associates, he aspired to rule the entire Archdiocese of America from end to end, autonomously, and without constraints. That is why he unfortunately sought and succeeded in ostracizing Metropolitan Evangelos, committing this ‘terrible adulterous’ (μοιχιπεβασία) act on his Throne in the Metropolis of New Jersey. Then there was the humiliation of Methodios of Boston and the malice for Nathaniel of Chicago – demonstrated as recently as a few days ago at the Phanar.

Let us leave aside those he has brought here from Halki, and even more recently one from Constantinople, and those from Athens, Thessaloniki, Germany, Canada, and elsewhere. This is another chapter which I am sure Patriarch Bartholomew knows about, and in fact from his own experience of some of them. He has even suggested many times to Elpidophoros to remove them, but he has disobeyed the Patriarch – yes he disobeyed him, leaving no other alternative to the Patriarch than to order him to remove them before they become a liability to the Archdiocese.

However, on Thursday, June 9, 2022 after the TNH’s revelation about the reversal of the suspension of the Charter, things have changed drastically.

I respectfully point out that of course Patriarch Bartholomew as a person makes mistakes – after all no one is infallible – but he also knows how to correct them, as he did on June 9 regarding the Charter. TNH is in a position to know that it was he who initiated the change of position and the corrective action of the Synodal Committee on the Eparchies of the Throne Abroad.

There are more signs that Elpidophoros does not seem to realize where he is, even though three years have passed since he ascended to the Archbishopric Throne. Despite the fact that in two weeks the 46th Clergy-Laity Conference will convene in New York – and the consecration (εγκαίνια) of Saint Nicholas will take place – and the centenary of the Archdiocese will be celebrated, he chose this as the time for him to take on the role of tour guide for a small group of visitors to Pontos and Constantinople. No doubt he also wanted to remind the Patriarch that he cares for the Mother Church and works hard to keep it connected with the Omogenia. He went away at this time instead of taking care of these issues himself rather than leaving them to his aides and advisers.

One of them even asked foundations and individuals for a donation of $850,000 – allegedly “to promote the centenary of the Archdiocese and the consecration of Saint Nicholas,” but the potential donors refused. It seems that they have discovered the trick of ‘milking’ the Omogenia cow, or seeing it as a big piggy bank.

Also, by not writing his keynote speech for the Clergy-Laity Congress but leaving it to his salaried speech writers, Elpidophoros gave yet another sign that he has nothing to do with our Church in America, but is simply an outside parachuter, with all the consequences of that.

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