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General News

Deadlock Regarding the Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou in Astoria

BOSTON – Deadlock has arisen with respect to the future of the Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou in Astoria, NY, specifically regarding the appointment of a new abbot following the recent passing of Bishop Ierotheos of Eukarpia.

Patriarch Bartholomew, under whose jurisdiction the Monastery falls as it is a Patriarchal and Stavropegial institution, is searching for someone to appoint.

We reveal today that his latest attempt, which did not succeed, occurred during the most recent Synod meeting at the Phanar, where the case of Bishop Ambrosios of Evdokiada, assistant Bishop to Metropolitan Job of Pisidia, was discussed. Job sent a lengthy denunciatory letter against Bishop Ambrosios, his assistant, alleging many things, with the main insinuation pertaining to Ambrosios’ friendly ties and affiliation with the Patriarchate of Moscow and Patriarch Kirill himself. Ambrosios has studied at the Theological Academy of St. Petersburg and is fluent in Russian. He has also studied at the Theological School of the University of Thessaloniki and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, MA and has served as a member of the Patriarchal Court at the Phanar as the Grand ‘Syngilos’ – Chancellor.

The Synod of the Phanar of the most recent synodic period. Photo Ecumenical Patriarchate/Nikos Papachristou

The late Metropolitan of Pisidia, Sotirios (Trampas), made a request to the Phanar to send him an assistant who knew Russian because the congregation in Antalya, Turkey included Russians as well as people from other Slavic nations. Thus, Patriarch Bartholomew promoted Ambrosios to bishop and sent him as an assistant bishop to the late Sotirios. Now, with the new Metropolitan of Pisidia, Job, who is of Ukrainian descent from Canada and also knows Russian, conflicts have arisen with Ambrosios, leading to demands for his removal.

During the Synod meeting, Patriarch Bartholomew, unsure of what to do with Ambrosios, proposed sending him as the abbot to the Monastery of Chrysovalantou in Astoria. However, there was almost unanimous opposition from the Synod members, arguing that he lacks knowledge of America and the monastery’s affairs, and adding that his appointment could create more problems than those currently faced by Chrysovalantou, including legal and financial issues. The only exception was Metropolitan Nathanael of Kos, who supported Patriarch Bartholomew’s proposal.

Much was said about Ambrosios during the Synod, including the suggestion of sending him to a monastery on Mount Athos. However, one hierarch intervened, stating that they couldn’t rely solely on the claims and writings of Metropolitan Job, but should also hear Bishop Ambrosios’ side. He recommended that Bartholomew invite Ambrosios to present his version of events. Another hierarch agreed with this suggestion, and thus the matter remained unresolved.

The litany of the icon of St. Irene Chrysovalantou in Astoria, New York. Photo provided by St. Irini Monastery

Meanwhile, the deadlock and the pending incorporation of Irene Chrysovalantou’s dependencies into the Archdiocese of America continue due to legal obstacles. Archimandrite Meletios is currently administering the Monastery after Patriarch Bartholomew assigned Metropolitan Evangelos of Sardis to lead the services from Great Lent through Easter Sunday. When Evangelos’ name was mentioned as a potential abbot for Chrysovalantou, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain both discredited him to Bartholomew, each with their own reasons. Nikitas had opposed him from the time he was a candidate for the Metropolis of Chicago, and Evangelos had strong objections to his election.

Despite the apology expressed by Patriarch Bartholomew for the unjust and hasty actions on October 8, 2020, when he was misled by Elpidophoros, leading to Evangelos’ dethronement, as well as the imposition of a three-month liturgical suspension on Methodios, the senior hierarch of the Archdiocese of America, he does not seem inclined to rectify the injustice against Evangelos. The prevailing sentiment among the hierarchs of the Phanar is that Evangelos’ reinstatement will occur after Bartholomew’s departure.

According to the biography of Bishop Ambrosios of Evdokiada, he was a clergyman of the Holy Metropolis of Sisaniou and Siatista and a member of the brotherhood of the Holy Monastery of Saint Paraskevi of Domavistio, located at the foothills of Mount Askio. In the past, as a deacon, he served in the Holy Metropolitan Church of Saint Demetrios of Siatista, overseeing the catechetical work of the parish. Later, he became the Grand Chancellor of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. On July 10, 2019, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, presided over by Patriarch Bartholomew, elected him as an assistant bishop of the Holy Metropolis of Pisidia. On July 21, 2019, Patriarch Bartholomew, assisted by Metropolitans Sotirios of Pisidia, Stefanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, Athinagoras of Kydoniai, and Maximos of Selyvria, consecrated him as a bishop in the Holy Church of Saint Alypios in Antalya. His ministry as an assistant bishop focuses on the spiritual care of the Slavic-speaking flock residing in the Antalya region.

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