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Analysis: Vasilopita with Cassock and Some Other Things

February 23, 2022

Archimandrite Nektarios Papazafiropoulos will take over on the 1st of March as Chancellor in our Holy Archdiocese (good luck to the Archdiocese) and in due course will also wear a bishop’s miter. During the cutting of the vasilopita at the headquarters of the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York, ‘the adventurous one of many adventures,’ appeared in the ‘traditional’ attire of the Orthodox priest and in fact of the priest-monk, with a cassock and a ‘kalimafki’ (the traditional clerical stovepipe hat).

From the many messages we received, many in Astoria were particularly happy. You see, they had been accustomed to seeing him for years wearing the inner cassock (εσώρασο) with the pectoral cross, but suddenly they saw him in a recent photo in the Archdiocese with the other uncassocked chancellors – and they did not recognize him.

Of course, the cassock doesn’t make the priest, but neither does the priest make the cassock. We know that cassocks were introduced for the use of the clergy and especially the married clergy, but in any case, it would be good for priests to wear them not only inside the church, but also in their office and at Community events outside of the church, as was the case of the vasilopita in Astoria.

As far as the miter is concerned, that is, ordination as a bishop, Father Nektarios will have to wait, as well as Father Christoforos Oikonomidis, the new chancellor of New Jersey (he was also not wearing a cassock in that photo) and some others, to give you some news, because the Patriarchate recently did not approve the updated list of celibate priests of the Archdiocese sent by Archbishop Elpidophoros with the signature of the Chief Secretary of the Eparchial Synod, Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos. That is because the Eparchial Synod should not convene since the charter of the Archdiocese has been suspended, and therefore its decisions will encounter the Turkish ‘yoke’ (that is the Turkish work for ‘no’).

As for the question posed by many of the clergy and the laity, about whether the new charter will be ready at the Clergy-Laity Congress in July, the answer is: the Turkish ‘yoke’ will prevail there too – the popular expression “the black donkey lives to eat clover in May” probably applies.

At any rate, there is no reason to rush the issue of the charter now, since the goal was achieved on October 8, 2020, when Elpidophoros effectively dethroned Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey in order to place the Metropolis of New Jersey under the jurisdiction of the Direct Archdiocesan District of New York. That happened because the Metropolis of New Jersey is the ‘golden goose’ of the Archdiocese. And Elpidophoros had realized this early on, when he visited as Metropolitan of Bursa to see his ‘koumbaro’, Fr. Christos Pappas, in Fairview, NJ and made various fundraising efforts in order to buy and restore ancient churches in Bursa. In fact, the first ten thousand dollars were given by Evangelos. Of course, Elpidophoros also collected about a hundred thousand dollars from the Metropolis of San Francisco. America, America, you are a big piggy bank!

Of course, the ‘occupation’ of the Metropolis of New Jersey has already taken place. Bishop Apostolos of Medea took it over in the sense that he presides over liturgies and festivals, but Elpidophoros has the administration in his strong hands, while Archimandrite Christoforos Oikonomidis was added to the staff as the chancellor.

I close by noting that I was impressed by the fact that not a single Metropolitan went to the recent Leadership 100 Conference in sunny Florida. They left Elpidophoros alone with Bishop Athenagoras of Nazianzos, just the two of them. Bishop Sevastianos of Zelon appeared for a while and left, as did Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, who was there for an ‘investigative’ meeting – and he also quickly left.

The Archdiocese has been filled, however, with auxiliary bishops and chancellors, as well as Archimandrites and Protopresbyters of the Ecumenical Throne. May the Omogenia be well…to provide for all of them.

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