Tension at The Meeting of the Archdiocesan Council in Detroit

BOSTON – 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.”

He also asked Archbishop Elpidophoros, “why are you bringing the issue before the laity? There is video recording of what is being said here and I am telling you that we should not discuss it here.”

Archbishop Elpidophoros replied that, “we must not ignore the opinion of the laity and we must know from now on what the laity want,” which was interpreted by many laypeople and clergy as an indication that Elpidophoros was in this way putting pressure on the Patriarch through the laity.

At the same time, Elpidophoros reportedly replied to Metropolitan Nathanael that, “you are free to have your opinion, but I would like to tell you that you were in the room when the Patriarch gave me permission to continue the discussion. And of course I meet with the Synod – look how many meetings we had with the Synod via Zoom and in person.”

Metropolitan Nathanael said publicly that, “I will not participate in such a discussion,” and from that point on he did not speak at all but simply observed what was said and done.

The Archbishop clearly said that he aims to abolish the metropolises and establish districts instead, saying at the same time that the metropolitans will not be abolished or demoted but will continue per normal practice, while also saying that it is uncanonical to have metropolises.

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 Theateira and Great Britain. (Photo: Ecumenical Patriarchate/ Nicholas Papachristou)

Referring to the Metropolis of New Jersey, he said that, “it was not a canonical Metropolis, but was created by Iakovos to give a place to Metropolitan Silas because they were friends.” Elpidophoros ignored the fact, however, that the Ecumenical Patriarchate established that metropolis, and that after Silas, it elected two bishops, George Papaioannou and Evangelos Kourounis, who later was made Metropolitan.

The desire of Archbishop Elpidophoros is to include his assistant bishops in the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese, as he is reported to have said, “why don’t the Assistant Bishops also participate in the Synod?”

Elpidophoros reported to the Archdiocesan Council that, “what I proposed to the Patriarch he rejected – but I want it.” He added that, “I believe that it is correct, but for this or that reason the Patriarch did not accept these proposals of mine.”

Members of the Archdiocesan Council, who spoke to The National Herald with the agreement that they would remain anonymous because Elpidophoros forced them to sign a confidentiality statement not to speak to the Media, i.e. to TNH, said that “the Archbishop is now pitting the laity against the Patriarchate and the Patriarch, because he has taught some to stand up and praise him and defend his proposals, and it is as if they are saying to the Patriarch, you don’t know – we know.”

In the meantime, some, especially from the New Jersey region, rose up stealthily and began to question unity again, so that Metropolitan Methodios of Boston stood up and said to them, “how can you say that we don’t have unity? Is there no common financial system? Isn’t there a joint Office of Catechetical and Greek Education? In order to proceed with ordination, do we not receive the approval of the Synod?”

The Archbishop also said that no retirement age will be set for existing metropolitans, but it will apply to future hierarchs.

The meeting was attended by the Metropolitans Methodios of Boston, Nikolaos of Detroit, Savas of Pittsburgh, and Gerasimos of San Francisco. Alexios of Atlanta and Isaiah of Denver were absent.

Elpidophoros had commissioned Archimandrite Bartholomew Mercado, ecclesiarch at the School of Theology and professor of Canon Law, to make a historical review of the Charter of the Archdiocese, to which Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh made corrections. In the end, however, the discussion went nowhere, and it has been reported that Elpidophoros will tour America to speak to the clergy, parish councils, and other lay people about changing the Charter even though there is a decision of the Patriarch rejecting all his proposals.

It is recalled that The National Herald had revealed on April 6, 2023, “the Ecumenical Patriarchate vehemently rejected the proposals and attempts of Archbishop Elpidophoros to change the Charter during the meeting held by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew with four of the seven members of the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese on Wednesday, April 5. Metropolitans Methodios of Boston, Savas of Pittsburgh, Gerasimos of San Francisco, and Nathanael of Chicago participated.”

Also present at the meeting were Archbishop Elpidophoros, Geron Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, and Archimandrite Aetios, director of the special Patriarchal Office.

As The National Herald has written, Archbishop Elpidophoros was also trying to force the issue that he be commemorated in the Holy Services, claiming that this is how the unity of the Archdiocese is ensured. He also aims at the demotion of the existing metropolises and the creation of ‘districts’, and he supports the ‘artificial ostracism’ of the Metropolitans. He basically wants to establish districts within the boundaries of the metropolises, that is, to appoint assistant bishops who would report to him and not to the local metropolitan, thus weakening the metropolises and the metropolitans.

Information obtained by The National Herald indicates that all the hierarchs from America have unanimously joined together to address the disagreements and controversies generated by Elpidophoros, speaking boldly and fearlessly in front of Patriarch Bartholomew, and saying that what Elpidophoros wants “is not done,” in Orthodoxy, that it is illegal and un-ecclesiastical.

Geron Metropolitan Emmanuel of Chalcedon, who has also been appointed president of the joint committee for the Charter, agreed and fully cooperated with the Metropolitans from America, as did Archbishop Nikitas of Thyateira and Great Britain, also a member of the aforementioned committee.


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