Metropolitan Theoliptos of Iconium is one of the most prominent hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and a close associate of Patriarch Bartholomew. During his interview with The National Herald, he said many interesting and revealing things about Archbishop Elpidophoros of America which are worthwhile for our readers to learn.
What Theoliptos said has a special significance on one hand because he is a ranking hierarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and on the other because he has known Elpidophoros for many years.
Let us begin with the intuition that Theoliptos had that Elpidophoros someday would have such a high level advancement. Here is an excerpt from our conversation:
TNH: Did you predict that one day Elpidophoros would ascend to such a high level?
Theoliptos: I admit that I did. The new Archbishop, since the early years of his ministry in the Patriarchal Court, has shown himself to be a charismatic and talented clergyman.
This answer of Metropolitan Theoliptos shows that he is a person who is free from the egotisms and small minded enviousness that unfortunately afflicts some clergy, that is why Theoliptos admits and can say with pride that Elpidophoros “since the early years of his ministry in the Patriarchal Court has shown himself to be a charismatic and talented clergyman.”
This is an important personality trait that applies not only in the Church, but in other field as well, in politics, in the sciences, in corporations, in all situations were some people will distinguish themselves and become “firsts”. And this happens because above and beyond their charisma and talent they work with great intensity and creativity. This what Elpidophoros was and is, unquestionably able and competent but at the same time hard working and diligent, which is already apparent in the two weeks since he has assumed his mission as head of the Archdiocese of America.
Let me remind here that the Archbishop found chaos on all levels of the Archdiocese. A person whom I love and respect very much repeats to me often “where is Archbishop Elpidophoros supposed to start? We are talking about not simply a problematic situation but complete paralysis.”
Unfortunately, this is the drama of our Church.
Metropolitan Theoliptos of Iconium describing Archbishop Elpidophoros made the following interesting points: “Archbishop Elpidophoros of America is a laudable clergyman because everything that he has acquired, education, character, communication ability, diligence, he owes only to himself. It does not come from his home, or from a wealthy family of note. He is a child of simple, hardworking parents. He worked, tiring himself out, without the help of anyone; on the contrary, he continued in spite of many difficulties that tested him and proved the talents given to him by God, his gifts and abilities, and thus he won the love and confidence of our Patriarch, as well as most of the hierarchs of the Throne. And today, with the blessing of God and the love of our Patriarch, he holds this high rank of Archbishop of America. He is a bold, brave, and determined man.”
In other words, Elpidophoros is the right leader that the Archdiocese needed it to recover from being totally swamped by problems and virtual bankruptcy. Of course, former Archbishop Demetrios has a tremendous responsibility for that situation, but so do all the hierarchs who were around him, and the laity, and all those committees and subcommittees and it his hypocritical today for them to pretend that they didn’t know anything. They are all responsible. That that is why the question posed above, “where is Archbishop Elpidophoros supposed to start” becomes more and more painful.