Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Said to Plan Reorganization of Three Archdioceses

Αssociated press

FILE - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

BOSTON - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is preparing to make changes and reorganize at least three archdioceses the National Herald has learned.

Specifically, it is expected, as well informed TNH sources say, that the Patriarch will finish with the pending issue of the replacement of Archbishop Demetrios of America. Three times the Patriarch has asked the Archbishop to voluntarily submit his resignation, but he has refused to do so. Last November Bartholomew granted a third and final extension to Demetrios to submit his resignation by Easter, otherwise the Patriarch, the sources assert, will have no other choice but to replace him by electing him to a metropolis in Asia Minor that existed in the past but became defunct after the Asia Minor disaster.

The second Archdiocese in which changes will be made is the Archdiocese of Thyatira and Great Britain since Archbishop Gregorios is more than 90-years old and where there are quite a few problems. A few months ago Bartholomew made an incognito visit to England and saw the situation first-hand. The Patriarch is contemplating its division into two ecclesiastical entities, electing two archbishops or one archbishop and one metropolitan. There is also the possibility that the new Archbishop may come from the United States.

Changes are also in the works for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, since Archbishop Stylianos has become ill, as the Patriarch informed the hierarchs of the Phanar at the beginning of January.

There is also the thought that the Archdiocese of Australia will be divided into two parts, North and South, and even three, with elections of three new primates.

TNH is informed that changes in the metropolises of Turkey should not be ruled out.

In the meantime, the recent granting of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine has created cracks in the relationships between the Ecumenical Patriarchate with the prelates of the oldest and newest Patriarchates, and with the autocephalous and autonomous Churches that are under the influence of the Patriarchate of Moscow and which refuse to recognize the newly elected Metropolitan Epiphanios of Autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

It is believed at the Phanar that with the passing of time that issue will be resolved, and that they will reconsider and finally recognize Epiphanios so that the unity of the Orthodox Church around the World will not be shaken.

The National Herald has also learned that a specific Russian jurisdiction in the United States is contemplating creating Greek-speaking parishes or even dioceses in various parts of the country where priests who speak the Greek language fluently will be appointed. Representatives are searching for a Roman Catholic or Protestant church which is for sale and there is even consideration for building a church in Massachusetts.