BOSTON – The Archdiocesan committee for the new Charter of the Archdiocese of America is scheduled to travel to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople next week. A meeting has been scheduled with the separate charter committee based at the Phanar for Friday, January 13.
As The National Herald had reported, the Committee of the Archdiocese is comprised of the following: Archbishop Elpidophoros, Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco, Archimandrite Bartholomew Mercado, Protopresbyter Paul Kaplanis, Demetrios Logothetis, Chairman of the Leadership 100 endowment fund, and Anita Kartalopoulos, vice president of the National Philoptochos.
Patriarch Bartholomew appointed the following to serve on the Phanar’s committee: Metropolitan Geron Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, V. Rev.
Grand Ecclesiarch Archimandrite Aetios, Director of the Patriarchal Private Office, and Dr. Konstantinos Delikostantis, Director of the First Patriarchal Office and Professor Emeritus of the University of Athens.
It is not clear if Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco will be able to travel to Constantinople since he had heart surgery on December 6, 2022 as TNH had reported, although it can’t be ruled out that he will participate via ZOOM.
As The National Herald revealed on October 16, 2022 the issue of revising the Charter was considered closed by many hierarchs after various actions and intrigues. It is reminded here that the Charter of the Archdiocese was revoked on October 8, 2020 by Patriarch Bartholomew and his Synod after the verbal demand of Archbishop Elpidophoros without any prior consultation or even notification of the Eparchial Synod or the Archdiocesan Council, who received the news from The National Herald. Elpidophoros’ aim was to eliminate the metropolises and demote the metropolitans. In order to intimidate the hierarchs, he convinced the Patriarch to dethrone Evangelos of New Jersey and suspend Methodios of Boston for three months without inviting them to the Phanar to hear their side of the story.
The process of revocation or amendment of the Charter is provided in Article 25 as follows: “The present Charter regulating the affairs of the Holy Archdiocese of America as an ecclesiastical institution, may be amended in its entirety or in part after a proposal of the Holy Eparchial Synod submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate following the appropriate procedure in the Archdiocesan Council and the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress, and after the approval of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to which the proposal has been submitted.”
In the meantime, there was strong reaction from the hierarchs in America and also by hierarchs at the Phanar regarding the intrigues of Elpidophoros. Patriarch Bartholomew found himself in an extremely difficult position as he had allowed Elpidophoros to mislead him about the Charter and also the dethronement of Evangelos.
Bartholomew then attempted to salvage his Patriarchal prestige and as The National Herald revealed on June 9, 2022, shortly after the meeting of the Synodic Committee of the Eparchies of the Phanar Abroad it was decided to have the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese request the restoration of the suspended Charter. The Patriarchate would then accept the request and officially reply that the Charter continues to be in effect and will remain as it is.
The understanding was that if in the future a need arises for any modifications of some of its articles it will be done according to what Article 25 provides.
As The National Herald has reported, that is what was done.
It should be emphasized here that neither the Eparchial Synod nor the Archdiocesan Council to this day have requested the revocation or amendment of the existing Charter. Nevertheless, at the last meeting of the Synod of the Phanar of Monday October 3, 2022 Patriarch Bartholomew announced to the Patriarchal Synod that he had named the members of the Phanar’s committee for the Charter. TNH had revealed then that the issue of the Charter was not even on the agenda of the synodic meeting and many hierarchs considered it closed after various actions and intrigues, as was noted above. At some point the Patriarch said that “we have a Charter for America that was in abeyance” and he appointed the relevant committee for the Charter without any explanation.
When asked about the responsibilities of the Committee which he appointed, meaning, whether the Charter would be eliminated and replaced in its entirety, or only some Articles would be amended, the Patriarch said, “these issues will be discussed by the Committee.”
Archbishop Elpidophoros, who is a member of the Synod during this current synodic period said, “during the panegyric meeting which took place under the presidency of Metropolitan of Chalcedon (Emmanuel) I posed questions for which I haven’t received any answer yet.”
When the Chief Secretary, Archimandrite Gregorios Fragakis, was asked why the report of Archbishop Elpidophoros didn’t appear at the Synod, he replied that “it was sent only for informational purposes; it wasn’t sent to be discussed in the Synod.
The National Herald reveals in this article that Archbishop Elpidophoros reportedly has been privately ‘badmouthing’ the Metropolitans of the Archdiocese in trying to convince the Patriarch to change the Charter. These actions are taking place without the knowledge or even the notification of the Eparchial Synod and the Archdiocesan Council, which are supposed to play official and fiduciary roles. The elimination of the Charter as it exists today will mean the abolition of the current administrative structure – with Metropolises and Metropolitans – and will set the clock back fifty years in order for Elpidophoros to become the only ruling hierarch in the Archdiocese, as in the days of Archbishop Iakovos, without even some basic ‘checks and balances’. Elpidophoros has reportedly told Patriarch Bartholomew that today there is a golden opportunity to accomplish that.
On the other hand, The National Herald is in a position to know that Patriarch Bartholomew is very concerned regarding the ecclesiastical matters in America and he is feeling mounting disappointment about Elpidophoros. It is emphasized here that very often Patriarch Bartholomew receives extremely negative comments from everywhere about Elpidophoros, including from Mount Athos and Greece. However, Bartholomew continues to support Elpidophoros and he is the only one of doing so because it is reported that the entire Hierarchy of the Ecumenical Throne doesn’t even want to hear the name ‘Elpidophoros’.