BOSTON – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew announced to the Patriarchal Synod on Monday, October 3, that he has appointed a Committee for the Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The Committee is comprised by the following: 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It is reminded here that the Charter of the Archdiocese was revoked on October 8, 2020 by Patriarch Bartholomew and his Synod after the verbal recommendation of Archbishop Elpidophoros without any prior consultation or even notification of the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese of America or the Archdiocesan Council, who received the news from The National Herald. Elpidophoros’ aim was to eliminate the metropolises and demote the metropolitans.
The process of revocation or amendment of the Charter is provided in the 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.”
When in a revealing interview to The National Herald by Metropolitan Nathanael on April 8, 2022, he was asked if Archbishop Elpidophoros had the consensus of the Eparchial Synod prior to recommending to Patriarch Bartholomew that the Charter be placed in abeyance, he said: “The Holy Eparchial Synod was not aware that His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros submitted reports to the Ecumenical Patriarchate related to the Charter of the Archdiocese. We never discussed the idea or a possible need to request a new Charter from the Patriarchate. On September 9-10, just one month before the announcement from the Ecumenical Patriarchate, our Archdiocese held its 45th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress, with more than 1,200 delegates participating, and except for His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos, who raised concerns about rumors of a group commissioned by the Archdiocese to study changes to the charter, no one raised any question related to the Charter. The Clergy-Laity Congress went about its work assuming that everything was proceeding as normal. No one could have imagined that we would find ourselves in the present predicament just a month later.”
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 Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey. In his attempt to salvage his Patriarchal prestige, 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 of the Holy Eparchial Synod 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 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.
The Archdiocese will now appoint its own Committee.
The composition of the Synod of the Phanar for the period of October 1st 2022 to February 28th 2023 follows:
Geron Derkon Apostolos, Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, Nikandros of Irinoupolis, Polykarpos of Italy, Stephanos of Kallioupolis and Madytos, Elpidophoros of America, Gerasimos of Petra and Heronisos, Kyrillos of Ierapytnis and Siteia, Vissarion of Spain, Andreas of Saranta Ekklision, and Joakim of Proussa.