Archbishop Elpidophoros had been on tightrope walk for almost a week, specifically since Monday, September 20, when he attended the inauguration of the ‘Turkish Center’ in Manhattan in the presence of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the Turkish Cypriot leader in the occupied territories of Cyprus, Ersin Tatar.
The so-called Turkish House is a 36-storey skyscraper opposite UN headquarters which houses the Turkish consulate in New York and its permanent representative to the United Nations, while one floor is used for the Turkish Cypriot pseudo-state on Cyprus, a country occupied for half a century.
Naturally and as expected, the cunning Turks duly took advantage of Elpidophoros’ presence, spotlighting him as part of their ‘team’ alongside Tatar and Erdogan, spreading photos and videos not only in Turkey but around the world. It was incomprehensible, and it was a serious slip on Elpidophoros’ part, because he is no longer the Metropolitan of Bursa and the Abbot of Halki, who necessarily had to turn his heart to stone and associate with the slaughterers of Cyprus, of the Romiosini of Constantinople, of Imbros and Tenedos, of Pontus, of Smyrna, and Asia Minor for understandable and necessary reasons – but he is now the Archbishop of Hellenism in America.
Not infrequently, the Patriarch and hierarchs of the Phanar are forced to visit and behave kindly towards the murderers of the Genos because they must co-exist with them and continue at all costs the presence of the visible Center of Unity of Orthodoxy in Constantinople, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, where it belongs, where God and History have placed it. But Elpidophoros could have found a reasonable excuse and avoided walking the tightrope at a time when the occupiers of the Constantinople and Cyprus are still flagrantly plotting today regarding the lands and waters of Greece and Cyprus.
On the other hand, I understand Elpidophoros’ desires – he is concerned about the Patriarchate and obviously wants to have good relations with the nobles and masters of Turkey, who unfortunately, still have a say in the election of the Ecumenical Patriarch through the approval of the list of candidates. No, it is not a bad thing for someone to have ambitions, as long as the interests of the Omogenia and the Nation are put above and beyond them. He must realize that he is the Archbishop of America, which is a great honor – but also a huge responsibility. The other things are untimely and untested and maybe even unholy...
Of course, he could tell Erdogan that the Archdiocese of America and its Archbishop have been institutionally visited by the Presidents and Vice Presidents of the United States, Prime Ministers of Greece, United Nations Secretaries-General, and the leaders of other states, and that if he wanted to show his appreciation to the Archbishop, Erdogan himself or Foreign Minister Davutoglu should visit the Archdiocese as a gesture of good will.
The reactions provoked in the Cypriot community and the wider Greek -American Community were expected because there is sensitivity and patriotism, and their kind of patriotism is a virtue, not merely ‘nationalism’ as the ethno-nihilists say.
However, the reactions of Anastasiadis and Mitsotakis to discredit Elpidophoros not as a person, but in his institutional role as Archbishop of America and as Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, were not only inelegant but unacceptable and hypocritical. I explain: Guterres of the United Nations not only attended the inauguration of the ‘Turkish Center’, but he also delivered a resounding speech about Turkey and Erdogan, but Anastasiadis and Mitsotakis not only did not deprecate him, but ran to meet him.
It is a bitter truth that Elpidophoros is not in the habit of consulting with others, and this has proven to be fatal for him, because “a man who doesn’t consult is an enemy to himself.”
Let me avoid for now referring to his advisers here and in Greece. But neither Anastasiadis nor Mitsotakis seem to have more intelligent advisers. At some point we will have to look at the role of others, such as the men and women in the Foreign Ministry.
I want to believe that with this crisis, Elpidophoros was given the opportunity to think, to meditate, to examine people and situations, to review his attitudes and decisions, to chart new paths and perspectives, because he is at the beginning of his Archiepiscopacy and he must succeed for the good of the Archdiocese, the Omogenia, and for his own sake. He is neither a random hierarch nor a random person. Both Mitsotakis and Anastasiadis, both temporarily in power, should have understood that Elpidophoros is not for throwing away, even with this slip. I think we understand this now, and we do not need to say more, because the Turks rub their hands in delight when they see our backbiting.
Undoubtedly, the statement published by Elpidophoros late on Thursday afternoon September 23, is a preliminary apology, resulting from his feeling guilt over his presence Monday at the Turkish ceremony. Here is its essence: “I am sincerely sorry for the pain I inadvertently caused to my Cypriot and Greek-American brothers, and especially to my beloved flock. I pray for a just and lasting solution to be found for martyred Cyprus, as the Cypriot people expect this, based on international law and the protection of human rights, in accordance with UN resolutions, and I am working for this outcome.”
This statement also honors Elpidophoros himself.