Even a brief look at the official list of personnel of the Archdiocese as indicated on its website will leave you in awe, with regard to both its large number, as well as the responsibilities and titles of each person. It gives the impression of a small Vatican. Among them, there is an army of advisors to Archbishop Elpidophoros, and in fact, high level senior advisors are specified on the list of employees.
And yet, despite the presence of so many advisors, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America goes from slip-up to slip-up, or from blunder to blunder if you prefer, remaining unadvised and therefore his own enemy. The results and side effects of his misguided actions are now visible to the naked eye.
His Eminence has employed the publicist Stratos Safioleas, who lives in Athens and comes and goes to America, as his top advisor and strategist of propaganda and all kinds of other intrigue. He has undertaken, on a contractual basis and with compensation, of course, to construct the portrait of his boss in the Athenian Media. My witness is Metropolitan Gabriel of Nea Ionia, a close friend of Elpidophoros.
I am not sure of Mr. Safioleas’ knowledge of ecclesiology, theology, and ecclesiastical issues in general. In other areas he might be good – such as crafting slogans for SYRIZA. But the Church is something else, as is the promotion to the Patriarchy for which Elpidophoros yearns.
Of course, his ascension to the Throne of America was fatal to his ambitions, because it revealed the extent of his smallness and naked ambition in general and in everything. But the Throne of the City of Constantine the Great will remain a midsummer night’s dream, no matter how much ‘earth and water’ and many other things he gives to the Turks.
The election is done by the Synod of Constantinople, and when the time comes, apart from his own vote, I don’t think he will get anyone else’s.
Let me not forget to tell you that Mr. Safioleas has demanded to be at the White House for the March 25th event, as Elpidophoros’ Communications Director. Alas, how else will the photos and various stories be disseminated in Greece? But the flock of Archbishop Elpidophoros is here in America.
Among the advisory group are the two Papazafiropoulos brothers. One of them became a chancellor, as a reward for breaking up the community and its school in Astoria, and is destined to become a bishop. Now, at Saint Demetrios Cathedral in Astoria, the other local chancellor of the Archdiocesan District, Fr. Ilias Villis, pays visits to put out fires. Fr. Villis is delivering sermons at the Sunday School level about love and volunteerism, and the other brother Papazafiropoulos became the Chief of Staff of the Archbishop, as if he were Joseph Biden. For God’s sake!
There is another great advisor, one even more senior in rank, the Archdeacon of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, John Chryssavgis, who is called upon from time to time and plays the unappreciated role of ‘defender in writing’, like with that legendary baptism in Glyfada. The baptizer remained silent, while the ‘proxy advisor’ spoke in writing. He had served as a professor at the School of Theology in Boston for a period of time in the past.
And now to the point: There is the matter of the compensation for the above-mentioned people, among whom I did not include the scribes, the speech writers, and others feeding at the ecclesiastical trough. I also omitted the female senior advisor, who is unpaid as she is said to be offering her services ‘for her soul’ according to ecclesiastical terminology. The others are paid, and they participate in free trips, eat and drink well, and appear as officials and title-holders in good health (εις υγείαν) of the flock of our Holy Archdiocese and in the name of Christ and His Church.
The question of the total salary and benefits for each of them remains a mystery. The salaries of many others also remain a mystery, although they should have been made known, because they are employees of the Church, supported by us, the believers who pay our contributions and donations. But there will be more on this matter and many others in due time.