Members of the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese of America with His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. Also shown are Metropolitan Emmanuel Geron of Chalcedon and Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain. (Photo: Ecumenical Patriarchate/ Nicholas Papachristou)
BOSTON – Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has apologized for mishandling the issues pertaining to the Archdiocese of America and the Greek-American Community. The issues have arisen from the decisions of Thursday, October 8, 2020, regarding the abrogation of the Charter of the Archdiocese, the dethronement of Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, and the imposition of a suspension upon Metropolitan Methodios of Boston.
This revelation was made during the recent two-day meeting of the Holy Synod at the Phanar, on May 29 and 30, 2023, during the reading of the minutes of the meeting of member hierarchs of the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese of America with the Patriarch regarding the revision of the Charter of the Archdiocese of America. It must be clarified that the Patriarch’s apology was expressed during the meeting that took place on April 5, 2023 at the Phanar with hierarchs who are members of the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese of America when he was asked why and for what reasons he made those decisions.
It is reminded here that on October 8, 2020, during the meeting of the Synod of the Phanar at the Monastery of Baloukli, without a justification or reason, and without the knowledge of and any prior consultation with the Eparchial Synod or the Archdiocesan Council, as provided by Article 25 of the Charter, the Patriarch proceeded to suspend the Charter, to expel Evangelos and to suspend Methodios. Elpidophoros confessed at the recent Synod of May 30 that he acted on his own and suggested to the Patriarch that he take the above actions.
From the Synod of May 30, it emerged, among other things, once again that the Patriarch has put a ‘brake’ on Elpidophoros, as all his proposals for the revisions of the Charter have been rejected, such as the ‘triple commemoration’ during the Sacred Services (that is, the simultaneous naming of the Patriarch, of the Archbishop, and of the local Metropolitan) and the abolition of the Metropolises. And as stated in the communiqué, the Archbishop will not operate, decide, and propose on his own but always with the Synodical agreement of the Eparchial Synod.
The plan of Elpidophoros was the total abolition of the Metropolises and renaming them as ‘Districts’, as well as the downgrading of the Metropolitans and their re-election as Metropolitans of once-shining Metropolises of Asia Minor such as Anea, Apameia, etc., while he himself would appoint ‘District Governors’ or ‘Overseers’ who would answer only to him, who would become the sole ruling hierarch in all of the United States of America. He also reiterated that the New Jersey diocese was created for personal, not ecclesiastical reasons, that it had been founded by Archbishop Iakovos of blessed memory for the late Metropolitan Silas. It is recalled that the Metropolis was formally established, however, with a Tome signed by the Patriarch and the members of the Synod, and that after the resignation of Silas, the Patriarchate elected Father George Papaioannou as bishop, and then Evangelos as the first Metropolitan of New Jersey.
When Archbishop Elpidophoros tried to inform the Phanar Synod about the recent meeting of the Archdiocesan Council in Detroit, the Patriarch stopped him and told him: “send us a report.”
As revealed by TNH on May 26, 2023: “Tension was created during the recent meeting of the Archdiocesan Council, which met for two days at the Westin hotel in Detroit, due to the issue of the Charter of the Archdiocese. The issue was again brought up for discussion by Archbishop Elpidophoros despite the contrary recommendations of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. According to our information, Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago reacted by saying that the issue was ‘out of order’ and emphasized that ‘the Patriarch told us during our meeting at the Phanar that we should not publicly discuss the issue of the Charter until we sit down and engage it as a Synod and after we have a common opinion on where we want the Charter to go, then let’s also ask for the opinion of the laity’ … Metropolitan Nathanael further insisted that ‘we must follow the instructions of the Patriarch.’ Metropolitan Nathanael said publicly that ‘I will not participate in such a discussion,’ and then he did not speak at all, but simply observed what was said and done.’”
The Patriarch, prior to the meeting of the Synod on Tuesday, May 30, had called Elpidophoros to his office personally and referred to the happenings in the Archdiocese, including the School of Theology with the successive resignations of President Cantonis, deans Parsenios and Patitsas, and others. After that, throughout the meeting. Elpidophoros reported to be sullen and frowning.
Elpidophoros told the Synod that he must block the eventual independence of the Archdiocese of America, pointing a finger at the Metropolitans. When asked directly from whom the Archdiocese is in danger, he did not answer, saying only that, “today the Archdiocese is more ‘Patriarchal’ than yesterday,” i.e., before his arrival there.
It was still decided in the Synod by hierarchs that the decisions of the Synod of October, 2020 created victims, referring to Evangelos and Methodios, while Evangelos, very moved, began to weep, as did Metropolitan Panteleimon of Vryoula. The meeting adjourned at this point for lunch, the Patriarch saying they would continue later.
After the meal, the Reports of the Joint Committee on the Charter were read, in which it was revealed that Elpidophoros had three times made the charge that Evangelos had for eighteen years forbidden the former Archbishop of America, Demetrios to visit the Metropolis of New Jersey. Evangelos was enraged, saying that is an out-and-out lie, and that there were dozens of publications and photos to the contrary, adding that “Archbishop Demetrios lives and reigns and can be questioned.”
Then, Evangelos asked permission from the Patriarch and directly addressed Elpidophoros, telling him the following, leaving everyone stunned: “I have found in these three years that you really love me and that you miss me – that’s why you have mentioned my name three times. For one thing, I blame you because of what you accuse me of, banning Archbishop Demetrios in New Jersey. You weren’t even in America, so you relied on one person” – he said her name, and continued, “she is a member of the National Philoptochos – and you and she have repeated this fabrication, that I had forbidden Demetrios to come to New Jersey.”
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