BOSTON – The image of the Crucified Christ had recently been removed from its position behind the Holy Table at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan. It was subsequently placed in a small chapel because it was blocking the face of Archbishop Elpidophoros when he stood on the synthronon of the sanctuary during the Divine Liturgy.
The directive for the removal of the Crucified Christ was given by close associates of the Archbishop.
The National Herald has learned that when officials of the Cathedral and also members of the congregation observed the disappearance of the Holy Cross, they we told initially by the presiding priest of the Cathedral, Fr. Nicholas Karloutsos, that the Crucified Christ was placed in a chapel in which he hears confessions, but at some point, the real reasons were revealed.
It is noted here that lately and due to the pandemic, the congregation on Sundays has been reduced dramatically to the level of 35 to 50 congregants. It is also noted that vast majority of the Divine Liturgy is done in English and the use of the liturgical Greek has been minimized. Also, the sermon is never delivered in Greek.
TNH is in position to know that many congregants who used to worship at the Cathedral have left and have gone to other parishes. Recently, a faithful and pious person left the Cathedral when he noticed the disappearance of the Crucified Christ, saying that when he looked at the Holy Cross he felt peace and calmness in his soul.
Recently the Archbishop appointed as second priest at the Cathedral his, Godchild Fr. Elias Pappas, who was ordained just a few weeks ago. Fr. Elias is the son of protopresbyter Christos Pappas, presiding priest of the Ascension parish in Fairview, NJ.
TNH’s recent communication with Fr. Nicholas Karloutsos follows:
TNH: Fr. Nicholas I am writing an article and I want to ask why the Holy Cross with the Crucified Christ was removed from behind the Holy Table.
Fr. Karloutsos: It is not removed; it is behind the Holy Altar.
TNH: Where, behind the Holy Table?
Fr. Karloutsos: Yes, it is.
TNH: Behind the Holy Table?
Fr. Karloutsos: Yes.
TNH: Are you sure?
Fr. Karloutsos: That is how I left it when I left the City yesterday (March 1).
TNH: But it was removed for a few days, correct?
Fr. Karloutsos: I don’t know which days. I am not sure what the point of the article is. He you asked other parishes? Have clergy have responded?
TNH: We have received a lot of calls and messages from your Cathedral regarding this issue. My philosophy is to go to source, and you are the source and I am asking directly: was the Crucified Christ removed from behind the Holy Table and taken to another location?
Fr. Karloutsos: That had been the case at various times for convenience during hierarchical liturgies, and then we put it back in its place. And when we create a space for it in the Chapel of St. Nicholas where during the sacrament of confession and for personal prayer it was available for veneration there, and now it is back behind the Holy Table.
TNH: Whose decision was it to remove the Crucified Christ to the chapel of St. Nicholas?
Fr. Karloutsos: When there is a hierarchical Liturgy, when we are instructed to move it. So, given the frequency which His Eminence at certain points in the liturgical year is with us, more often than not it remains in the chapel and now in light of Holy and Great Lent beginning, it is back behind the Holy Table.
TNH: Did Archbishop Epidophoros tell you to remove the Crucified Christ?
Fr. Karloutsos: Never directly. But as is well-known, every time there is a hierarchical Divine Liturgy the Deacon or another clergyman attends to the details of the liturgical furnishings – that kind of thing.
TNH: How many members do you have at the Cathedral?
Fr. Karloutsos: Between three and four hundred stewards any given year.