Tuesday, May 11, 2021 was the second anniversary of the unanimous election of Archbishop Elpidophoros to the Archepiscopal Throne of the Archdiocese of America, the most populous and prominent ecclesiastical eparchy of the Ecumenical Throne. What an honor, but also what a responsibility! Two entire years have passed! Unbelievable – yet true. Life passes, time passes, and time is continuously recycled in its own endless vortex, marking persons and the sequence of events.
Many things have happened and marked our ecclesiastical life here in America during these two years of the Archiepiscopate of Elpidophoros, and now is not the time to evaluate it. After all, it is still too early, although the signs of reconstruction are clear.
But what is certain, and I have mentioned it many times – and I will point it out again today – is the bitter truth that when Elpidophoros came here, he not only found a chaotic situation of disunity on many levels, but he literally fell into erebus, a situation he has dealt with very well.
I do not think it makes sense to list once again in detail the quagmire of problems which had literally brought the Archdiocese of America to its knees and led it to virtual bankruptcy, for which not only his predecessor, Archbishop Demetrios, was responsible, but also everyone and everything around him, including of course the so-called Eparchial Synod, the Archdiocesan Council, the Finance Committee, the Clergy Pension Program Committee, to name just a few of the accomplices and co-perpetrators of the disaster.
If I had a recommendation for Elpidophoros on the second anniversary of his election, it would be that it is an absolute necessity for him to proceed and make changes and dismissals without any further delay. Let me remind you that statutes and institutions walk step by step through time and history, just like people. It is the people who give subsistence to the statutes and institutions, and when the people are lame, consequently the statutes and institutions are also crippled. And a leader is judged by the quality of the coworkers and associates he chooses.
And let me also remind him and all of us that Elpidophoros has no margin for error. Of course, there will be omissions and mistakes. To quote Goethe “man must strive, and striving he must err.”
It is only natural that there will be mistakes. On the other hand, inaction and negligence, in combination with procrastination lead to more serious mistakes, as history and experience show.
As a reminder for the second anniversary of his election, I would like to quote the news we published in TNH just two minutes after the voting of the members of the Holy Synod was completed and the bells of the Patriarchal Church of Saint George at the Phanar had begun to ring joyfully to announce the unanimous election of the new Archbishop of America, Elpidophoros of Bursa.
Here is the quote:
“Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa was unanimously elected Archbishop of America on Saturday, May 11 by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate … [which] issued the following announcement:
‘Today, Saturday, May 11, 2019, the Holy and Sacred Synod, continuing its work, proceeded to fill the vacated seat of the Archdiocese of America following the voluntary resignation of its shepherd, His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America.
Therefore, following the suggestion, permission, and exhortation of His-All Holiness, the holy synodical members dully casting their votes unanimously elected as Archbishop of America His Eminence Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa, Abbott of the Holy Monastery of the Holy Trinity in Halki and Professor of the Theological School of the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki. From the Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod.’”
Shortly after his unanimous election Archbishop Elpidophoros made the following exclusive statement to The National Herald: “I am deeply touched because the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Synod honored me with their vote and confidence. I express my feelings of gratitude to our Patriarch and the Holy Synod. I glorify God, and with His Grace I will serve the superb people of the Holy Archdiocese of America, a people whom I love and who love the Church, who are faithful to its traditions and respect our Ecumenical Patriarchate. I greet my beloved brother members of the Holy Synod and the other brother hierarchs and bless from my heart the reverend clergy and the People of God. I am looking forward to meeting our People. We have many things to do together. All together. Christ is risen.”