By Nick Stamatakis

Archbishop Elpidophoros, followed by Karloutsos, met with VP Mike Pence and President Trump yesterday, one day before the official change of Hagia Sophia into a mosque and at a time that Greece and Turkey are at the brink of war.  The circumstances of the meeting could not be more difficult for someone who just two weeks ago had proclaimed to be “the leader of the Greek-american lobby”.  Nobody is sure on what the expectations were from this meeting, but it seemed like a hastily – and very belatedly – put together “photo op”.  The results were certainly not satisfactory at all.

Judging from the statement VP Pence issued, the US assumed no obligation to take action: “America will stand firm with the Greek Orthodox Church in the call for Hagia Sophia to remain accessible as a source of inspiration and reflection for every person of every faith… Protecting religious freedom at home and abroad is a foreign policy priority for the United States of America. We cherish the faith and charitable works of the 1.5 million members of the Greek Orthodox Church in the United States…”  But did AB Elpidophoros ask for any further action? Most likely not. He certainly had many reasons not to, as he is preparing to assume the mantle of the Patriarch soon, as a Turkish citizen, and would not want to irritate Erdogan.

If Iakovos was at the meeting and the timing was 30 years ago, he would not hesitate one moment to raise his voice and demand that the US stop one more egregious violation of religious freedom in Turkey.  He would certainly go one step further and ask for the US to immediately intervene and stop the Turkish plans to drill for oil and gas in Greek EEZ. But Iakovos was not there and the times are different.  Frankly, it is unfair to attempt any such comparison… And we are not the ones who invoke Iakovos’ stature, but AB Elpidophoros himself and those who supported him when he decided to participate in a Black Lives Matter event in Brooklyn…

But when you align yourself with those who create chaos in the streets of this nation and promote Marxist ideology, as AB Elpidophoros did, then you are putting yourself into a corner.  It isn’t enough that you embody the major contradiction of leading a church of Americans of Greek descent while you represent a “Turkish religious institution”, the Patriarchate…. It isn’t enough that you have publicly opposed the policies of a president supported by the overwhelming majority of the Church’s faithful (over 80%)…. You now have to present strong opposition to Hagia Sophia’s change to a mosque without substantial support from your own leader, Patriarch Bartholomew!!

Did anybody notice the lukewarm statements by Pat.Batholomew on Hagia Sophia? Unbelievable!! Any serious religious leader faced with such a disaster would motivate all their powers to reverse Turkey’s actions.  But globalist Bartholomew talked vaguely about religious coexistence and Elpidophoros reflected these same ideas in his statements to the president and VP…  The Turks acted as wolves and reminded eeryone of the results of their conquest 500 years ago, while Bartholomew talked like a lamb about religious co-existence… Who do you think will prevail in the end?

Please let’s not hear the usual blame that “President Trump did not do anything against Erdogan”.  No US president would take any action that is not strongly supported by the leadership of his constituents… President Trump almost strangled the Turkish economy and freed pastor Andrew Branson but he had the vibrant support and the strongest possible demands of the evangelicals…

AB Elpidophoros’ position in the midst of such excruciating contradictions is untenable. It is certainly not fair to him or any leader of the Church, but it is even more unfair to the faithful who need clear leadership decisions and even clearer guidance on so many issues.

Life has a way to deal with contradictions by adjusting the institutions who are suffering and bringing balance.  Our Church is undergoing such an adjustment period, exacerbated by an almost complete bankruptcy, continuing federal investigations of corruption and the pandemic… This is surely not the time to for its leader to juggle between wearing his “globalist hat” one day, a “Turkish turban” the next and the Greek “foustanella” the third…

July 24, 2020,



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