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Editorial

The Rift Between Greece and the Patriarchate Is Due to Elpidophoros

When, almost five years ago, on June 22, 2019, Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Prousa was enthroned as Archbishop of America at the Archdiocesan Cathedral of The Holy Trinity in New York amidst an atmosphere of enthusiasm and hope, no one could have imagined that in such a relatively short period of time he would cause a crisis in relations between Greece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

The long-simmering crisis came to the surface on the occasion of the Archons’ conference in Athens, specifically due to the Greek government’s decision to abstain from their events.

This abstention was not to express any dissatisfaction with the conference attendees but, first, to clearly oppose Archbishop Elpidophoros and, second, to send a message to the Phanar (the Ecumenical Patriarchate) about the necessity of his removal.

What Preceded:

Unlike in the past, when Greek governments were mere observers of the events in the Omogenia, Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ government shows genuine interest and took the bold step of asking the Ecumenical Patriarch to remove Archbishop Elpidophoros from his important position for “national reasons.”

Nonetheless the Ecumenical Patriarch seems as of this writing to continue to support him.

The Events in Athens:

The Archbishop considered the Archons’ conference in Athens as a divine opportunity to improve his relations with Prime Minister Mitsotakis. His PR advisors’ strategy was that, by ‘invading’ Athens as a leader of a significant church organization, he would force the Prime Minister to lift the imposed ‘sanction’ and thus receive him as the head of the Archons’ delegation at the Maximos Mansion.

His advisers believed that this would create the impression that the government’s recommendation to the Patriarch for his removal had been annulled. However, this strategy had the opposite effect when Mr. Mitsotakis and his top associates on these matters refused any contact with him. Moreover, it publicly highlighted the rift between the government and the Patriarch due to Archbishop Elpidophoros.

The Church of Greece’s Stance:

Regarding the Church of Greece, while the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece did grant him permission to perform a Divine Liturgy in the Metropolis – Cathedral, as requested by the Ecumenical Patriarch, not a single hierarch of the Church of Greece attended.

Additionally, Athens’ media, not coincidentally, did not pay much attention to the Archons’ conference.

Mitsotakis’ Support for the Diaspora:

Mr. Mitsotakis has demonstrated his support for the Greek-American community and the Greek diaspora in general. No other prime minister has done more for us than he has. Perhaps, for these reasons, it was assumed that it would be understood that his lack of participation in their events did not reflect on the attendees but only Archbishop Elpidophoros.

However, it would have been better if a way had been found to make this distinction much more clear so as to avoid misunderstandings and exploitation, as is being attempted.

Conclusion:

It is truly disheartening that, among all the other problems faced by all involved parties, the rift between Greece and the Patriarchate due to Archbishop Elpidophoros has also been added reflecting badly on our community as well.

One would expect that a sensitive high-ranking clergyman, with a high sense of duty and responsibility and genuine and sincere love for the Patriarchate and the Patriarch, would voluntarily step down to help his benefactor.

We shall see.

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