BOSTON – The Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which was convened by Archbishop Elpidophoros on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 via teleconference, decided unanimously to request from the Ecumenical Patriarchate the reversal of the revocation of the Charter of the Archdiocese.
The Charter was revoked on October 8, 2020 by Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy Synod in Constantinople in response to a demand made by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America without prior consultation with the Holy Eparchial Synod or the Archdiocesan Council – they received the news from The National Herald.
The Communique issued after the meeting of the Eparchial Synod on June 15 stated, among other things, the following: “The Archbishop suggested to the Holy Eparchial Synod that the Archdiocese submit a request to the Mother Church, asking that the current Charter be lifted out of abeyance and be formally returned to its normal status until the time at which the review process on the Charter would reach its completion. The Holy Eparchial Synod unanimously accepted the suggestion of the Archbishop and decided to immediately send such a request to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the spirit of the aforementioned.”
TNH reported in last week’s edition that:
“It was decided during the meeting of the Synodal Committee of the Eparchies of the Ecumenical Throne Abroad on Thursday June 9, 2022 at the Phanar that Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, upon his return from Constantinople, will convene the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, which will then send an official request to the Ecumenical Patriarchate asking for the reversal of the revocation of the Charter of 2003, which was done on Thursday October 8, 2020.
“The Patriarchate will then accept the request of the Holy Eparchial Synod and it will officially reply that the Charter continues to be in effect and will remain as it is. If in the future the need arises for any modifications of some of its articles it will done according to what Article 25 provides. A detailed and in-depth discussion took place in the Committee in the presence of Archbishop Elpidophoros, who was visiting religious and historic places in Turkey and specifically, Pontos and Constantinople, with a group of Greek-Americans.”
As The National Herald had reported two weeks ago, “the Archbishop has requested to meet on June 9 with the Committee of the Eparchies of the Ecumenical Throne Abroad in order to discuss the Charter because there has been confusion, questions, and intense concern among the clergy and the laity as well because the Charter was revoked on Thursday October 8, 2020 by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy Synod around him upon the recommendation of Elpidophoros without the knowledge of the Eparchial Synod and the Archdiocesan Council – although he claims that the Charter continues to be in effect.”
At the meeting of the Eparchial Synod on June 15, Elpidophoros made every effort to defend himself against the outcry of the Patriarchate against him on June 9, 2022, about which TNH had written the following: “A few months ago, a strong message was sent to Archbishop Elpidophoros which among other things instructed him to provide in writing all his recommendations and everything that has transpired about the Charter as well as the minutes of the meetings of the Holy Eparchial Synod because many hierarchs said that they didn’t have any information about his actions. It is noted here that during his three years on the Archbishopric Throne of America Elpidophoros hasn’t sent any reports in writing regarding the context of the meetings of the Holy Eparchial Synod or the Archdiocesan Council. His predecessor Archbishop Demetrios former of America used to send extensive written reports twice or more per year about the meetings of the Eparchial Synod and the Archdiocesan Council which were read in the meetings of the Holy Synod of the Phanar and then were sent to the Committee of the Eparchies of the Throne Abroad.”
Also, the issue of the minutes of the previous meetings of Eparchial Synod was discussed during its meeting on June 15 and it was noted to the Archbishop that the minutes had been distorted and that their words have been twisted in an attempt to show that some of them are against the Patriarchate by attributing to them tendencies toward autocephaly. The hierarchs reacted vigorously to Elpidophoros’ unfounded accusations.
It is noted here that Chief Secretary of the Eparchial Synod is Bishop Athenagoras (Ziliaskopoulos) of Nazianzos, who essentially is auxiliary Bishop to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Bishop Athenagoras has served as a priest in Germany and Canada and Elpidophoros brought him to the United States initially to be President of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, but that didn’t materialize for legal and other reasons. Because Athenagoras didn’t meet the prerequisites to become a bishop in the Archdiocese since he hadn’t served in the United States for five years as the Charter provides, Elpidophoros convinced the Patriarch to make him his own auxiliary bishop and give him on loan (κατ’ ανάθεση) to Elpidophoros, who also appointed him Director of Religious Education just so that he could continue to live on the campus of the Theological School and report to Elpidophoros about President George Cantonis’ administrative and other decisions. Cantonis already resigned once in the past because of this situation.
The entire Communique of the Eparchial Synod follows:
“Today, June 15, 2022, upon the invitation of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America convened via videoconference in order to review current matters concerning the life of the Church.
The Archbishop informed the Synod of his recent pilgrimage to the Phanar and of his collaborative work with His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, as well as his work with the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Synodal Committee on the Eparchies of the Throne Abroad. During these working sessions, it was found that due to the objective difficulties brought about by the pandemic – in addition to other factors – the commencement of the review process on the Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese was delayed. The result of this delay was a lack of any significant progress toward the review process on the Charter so that it might be presented for consultation to both the Archdiocesan Council and to the upcoming Clergy-Laity Congress. In practical terms, this means that the final outcome of the review process on the Charter will take place, God willing, at the 2024 Clergy-Laity Congress. As the Charter of the Archdiocese had been placed into abeyance by the decision of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on October 8, 2020, the duration of time in total for the Charter to remain in abeyance would approach nigh on four years. Despite the fact that the Charter of the Archdiocese continues to be practiced and observed regardless of its status – a fact that the Holy Eparchial Synod has repeatedly decided and communicated – the Archbishop suggested to the Holy Eparchial Synod that the Archdiocese submit a request to the Mother Church, asking that the current Charter be lifted out of abeyance and be formally returned to its normal status until the time at which the review process on the Charter would reach its completion.
The Holy Eparchial Synod unanimously accepted the suggestion of the Archbishop and decided to immediately send such a request to His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the spirit of the aforementioned.
Finally, with sentiments of joy and gratitude toward the Mother Church, the Holy Eparchial Synod was informed of two matters from the Ecumenical Patriarchate: a.) that the list of eligible candidates for ordination to the episcopacy has been approved, and b.) that the Very Rev. Archimandrite Alexander Belya, Archiepiscopal Vicar of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate, was elected today as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese with the episcopal title of the once-renowned Diocese of Nicopolis. The date of his Ordination to the Holy Episcopacy will take place at the Cathedral of St. Matrona of Moscow in Dania Beach, FL, on Saturday, July 30 of this year.
From the Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod.”