Impressions from Greece and the Situation with Elpidophoros

The speed with which events move is incredible. And they never stop. Not even on our vacation. We try as much as possible not to be sucked in. To give ourselves some time to breathe.
It is difficult.

Cavafy would say today that it is the news – instead of the City – that follows us wherever we go.

Before I dive into impressions from my recent trip to Greece and the news in general, I want to make a general observation: those of us who have the opportunity to visit Greece in the summer are really lucky. Of course, there are also very nice places elsewhere. But for us, Greece cannot be replaced.

And there are no substitutes because we do not visit Greece as tourists merely to enjoy the sun, the sea, the sunsets, the churches, the museums, etc.

We also visit her in a futile attempt to turn back the clock of our lives. To absorb again the image of our ancestral home: the pomegranate tree in its garden and the plants in the fields. To catch up with old friends, even if we often don’t speak the same ‘language’ anymore.

In Greece we are looking for solutions to what troubles our souls. For answers to our lives’ questions. And we are looking to restore the memories that with time fade, which disappear, giving way to what we have become. To what we are.

There is one thing we should be afraid of: not to let the yards of our houses become overgrown with grass. As long as someone goes there and lives there, as long as the house is open, the light that illuminates our roots will continue to shine and the voices of generations of relatives will still call to us, welcome us, and relieve us.

Now, regarding the general situation:

Society there is in turmoil. Everyone is obsessed with whining and worrying – complaining about the pain of the rising cost of living – which is real.

Thus, many are limiting their expenses. From transportation – gasoline – to restaurants. However, this is not an exclusively Greek phenomenon, as we know. It is not the government’s fault. This is generally understood, but that does not ease the burden. And the conspicuous display of wealth, often of dubious origin, makes matters worse. Naturally, people react: they protest, they demonstrate.

And this will have political consequences, in Greece as in so many European countries – not to mention in the United States.

The source of their greatest anxiety, which has been conveyed to me to such a great extent for the first time in years, is Turkish aggressiveness. But most underestimate the risk of war, an inevitable result of the influence exerted by the mass media.

What worries me the most, however, is the great tension, in politics and society in general. The harsh personal attacks, the unfounded accusations – obstacles to dialogue and cooperation – lead to disturbing thoughts about where they might lead.

This is not only reflected in newspaper headlines and social media. It is also the incidents inside Parliament where there are increasingly unacceptable, unsubstantiated attacks against opponents, episodes of character assassination whose aim is the moral annihilation of rivals, without concern about the situation the country finds itself in, or to which it can be led.

It is for this reason that it may be difficult for the Prime Minister to keep his – responsible – promise to hold off on calling elections until the end of his full four year term next spring.
Now, for our Community:

Everyone is talking about our Archbishop Elpidophoros, but unfortunately, not in a positive way. This was true before the most recent incident, the baptism of the two children of a homosexual couple, and now the situation has become even more difficult for him.

Thus, for the first time in memory, the Archbishop of America visits the Greek capital and is treated as a non-event. Just like any hierarch, whom no one meets, who is not honored by the state.

He engages the public only with his actions which – rightly or wrongly – generate a cloud of negative reactions.

Meanwhile, in New York, the Clergy-Laity Congress was also … modernized with the introduction of a pop singer – under the obvious influence of well-paid Athenian advisers.

These things are not pleasant. Not for the Archbishop, but not for our Greek-American community either. Three years after his enthronement, the prelate who many of us believed to be a real source of hope has stumbled badly. And he has no one to blame but himself.

May he manage to reverse his negative course for the good of the Church and the Community? I hope so. But such a descent is difficult to reverse – the reason being, in this case, that he doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes.

Let me close with something pleasant: The awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest honor, to Father Alexander Karloutsos is indeed a very great honor for him, but also for the Community he has served for decades. We extend our warmest congratulations to him.


The message was strong. It was so strong that our lives are now overshadowed.

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