EDITOR’S NOTE: In a few minutes (3.00PM EST) the Virtual Town Hall announced by AB Elpidophoros will begin. To help the discussion we are offering these questions, although we are sure the faithful will have many more to ask…
TEN QUESTIONS FOR AB ELPIDOPHOROS
- When the crisis hit, communities in the Metropolis of New Jersey received 9 separate and seemingly contradictory messages–4 from the metropolitan, 4 from you, as archbishop, and 1 from the patriarch. All claimed to be giving the definitive guidelines. How do you account for such administrative and leadership chaos where it seemed as if leaders were not communicating and no one was clearly in charge? What are you doing to assure us that this disgraceful episode will never be repeated ?
- That our parishes are in deep distress financially is without question. Why have you and the archdiocesan council not publicly and loudly proclaimed that monthly parish payments to the archdiocese be suspended for 90 days and then resumed at a 50% discount for the next 90 days? Why have you not made important and massive gestures to aid the grassroots parishes, similar to the lead of our government?
- Why is the so-called voluntary 20% reduction in the salary of the Metropolitans meaningful, when they could have been administratively furloughed (like many millions of both upper and lower employment status Americans have been) and been able (as single men without families) to collect state unemployment benefits? Why are we still paying their salaries when we have little or no income?
- The Greek Orthodox have always held themselves out to be an exceptional form of Christianity. Why does it seem that our leaders have done nothing exceptional in this crisis? Was HCHC, St Basil, St Nicholas or any other facility offered up to the government as a hospital or mortuary? Did the archdiocese organize any type of relief and assistance that would demonstrate our exceptional Christian Orthodoxy? Why, seemingly, were no efforts directed to the hot spots of disease in the USA? In short, we seemed invisible. Why is that and do you regard that as a failure of your leadership?
- As this crisis began and certainly during, why has there not been any messaging praising and encouraging Americans, especially first responders and hospital personnel, to be brave and to persevere? We appear not to be patriotic or American when, after all, we are the archdiocese of America, not a foreign outpost, why is that? Why did the patriarch announce financial support for Greece and Cyprus when those churches and countries are not under his authority and are self-governing? We support the patriarch, why doesn’t he appear to financially support us, as Americans? Furthermore, why doesn’t he offer to reduce in half his annual support from the Church of America (currently at $1.5 million) to show his support at this critical time?
- With so much at risk and with so many parishes and individuals literally broke and broken, will you consider using the St Nicholas monies for the relief of your wounded archdiocese? If not, why not?
- What was your reaction to the WSJ article featuring your Archdiocesan Council Vice Chairman that seemed to highlight the success and necessity of his Manhattan grocery business during this crisis? Do you know of any efforts by he and your council (at large) to render emergency assistance to New York City, or any other city, during this crisis? Have you asked any council members or any other plutocrats associated with the archdiocese to aid or assist any efforts on behalf of the faithful? Do you realize that your posture of measured silence and retreat into safety betrays and offends our American character and warrior ethos? (Much less the legacies of Leonidas, Themistocles, Pericles, Achilles, and the other real and mythical ancient heroes)…
- What has been the role of your Vicar General in this crisis? Neither you nor he have had any public presence on tv or radio, similar to Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s daily presence? Do you sense that the faithful feel that there is no battle commander in our Orthodox midst? What is the purpose of Archons if no one acts like an “Αρχων”? Do you feel intimidated in leading the American flock because of the ramifications you face as a Turkish citizen and subject?
- What planning and modeling processes are you using as a guide to the post-crisis period ? Are you concerned that many things (similar to post 9-11) will never be the same, that our church habits will change, that our priorities and social habits will shift, and that our clergy have been traumatized and deeply affected by these events? What do you plan to do about these unintended consequences ?
- Do you understand that the reason most of the American Greek Orthodox faithful are closing their wallets to the patriarch, the archdiocese, the metropolitanates and, now sadly, our parishes is that we perceive that these entities do nothing meaningful or Christian with the monies we provide and that we remain, essentially, an irrelevant, obscure, ethnic, and fraternal sub-culture?
Thank you for your answers, Your Eminence.