BOSTON – The most recent Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate was convened at its regular meeting on November 27 and 28 – it is customary for it to meet shortly before the Thronal Feast of St. Andrews, the patron saint of the Patriarchate. Among the issues the Synod dealt with were the following:
An extensive discussion took place regarding the Web Page of the Patriarchate, along the lines that is not good enough and doesn’t serve contemporary aims and needs. The issue was brought up by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, who also offered to mobilize the information technology experts of the Archdiocese to create a modern and effective Web Site for the Patriarchate.
In the first phase of the discussion the issue was not resolved, but before the end of the synodic session Elpidophoros revisited the issue and again offered – if the Patriarch and the members of the Synod agree – to have the employees of the Archdiocese revise the Web Page and send it to Patriarch for review.
It is noted here that the Patriarchate has only one person performing all communications functions, including the operation of the Web Page. After the passing of the late Nikos Manginas, journalist Nikolaos Papachristou has been doing everything by himself, including preparing texts, news releases, photos, and videos. On the other hand the Archdiocese of America employs several and various kinds of persons for its communications operations, plus consultants and ‘experts’ regarding ecclesial communications and strategies, people from the United States as well as others recently imported from Greece who are paid from the contributions that the parishes send to the Archdiocese.
The discussion about the Web Page of the Phanar a prompted a lengthy conversation about the well-known ecclesiastical news service ‘FOS FANARIOU – Light of the Phanar’ which is a private and voluntary initiative of the renowned theologian and musician Panagiotis Andriopoulos in Athens. It was said that the majority of the hierarchs of the Patriarchal Throne as well as theologians and clergy around the world visit FOS FANARIOU to get ecclesiastical news.
Another issue that was delt with by the Synod was the following: A young couple belonging to a Metropolis under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who are planning to get married in a Metropolis of the Church of Greece requested the necessary documents. During the search the Metropolis discovered that the future groom was initially a female and undertook the process that made her a male, thus the Metropolitan asked the Patriarchate what to do, in other words, whether they should provide the documents or not. A disagreement arose in the Synod – some hierarchs were of the opinion that the document should be given, and others took the opposite stand. A question arose, however, as to whether the future groom was born as a woman or as a hermaphrodite having both sexual organs and had become a male after surgery – but nobody knew the answer. The Patriarchate asked the Church of Greece what it does in similar cases and the answer came back that “we’ve never had a similar case.” Finally, the issue remained undecided.
On another subject, Archbishop Elpidophoros requested from the Patriarch and the Synod that he be able to convene in America an ‘Unofficial Synaxis’ of all hierarchs under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, that is the hierarchs of the Eparchial Synod of the Archdiocese, Metropolitans Evangelos of Sardeon and Tarasios of Rodostolou from California, the Carpathorussians, the Albanians, the Ukrainians, and others, in order to discuss the issues pertaining to The Greek-American Community, the Archdiocese, and the Church in general. Elpidophoros was asked by members of the Synod what kind of ‘Synaxis’ is planned and whether it will have an institutional character.
An extensive discussion also took place regarding the revealing article of The National Herald titled ‘Revelations from the Most Recent Phanar Synod’ dated October 16, 2022, which in its Greek version was republished in many media outlets in Greece indicating TNH as their source. It is reminded here that among other things that were revealed in that article was the appointment of the Committee for the revision of the charter of the Archdiocese. At one point the Patriarch said that there is a Charter for America that was in abeyance and that he appointed the relevant Committee for the Charter – there are two two committees, one appointed by the Synod of the Phanar and another by the Archbishop of America – but there was no explanation of their functions.
When asked about the responsibilities of the Committee which he appointed, meaning, whether the Charter would be eliminated and replaced in its entirety, or that only some articles would be amended, the Patriarch said, “these issues will be discussed by the Committee.”
Archbishop Elpidophoros, who is a member of the Synod during this current synodic period said, “during the panegyric meeting which took place under the presidency of Metropolitan of Chalcedon (Emmanuel) I posed questions for which I haven’t received any answer yet.”
In the same above-mentioned article it was also revealed that, “regarding the issue of the controversial baptism Archbishop Elpidophoros performed in Glyfada on July 9 and the reactions from many sides, including an official protest of the Church of Greece, whose letter was given by the Patriarch to Elpidophoros to reply to, it became known that the latter sent a letter in which he attempts to give a lesson in baptismal theology. We reveal that the Phanar will simply forward Elpidophoros’ letter, but it doesn’t seem that officials will send a response to the Church of Greece ‘because it will be too much,’ as it was said.
In the days that followed the Synod, many hierarchs were discussing the issue, expressing their bewilderment, which has even reached ‘the ears’ of the Church of Greece.”
Finally, this last Synod elected three auxiliary bishops for the Metropolis of Italy, one of them of Italian origin, a former Roman-Catholic who has converted to Orthodoxy.