PHOTO: Archbishop of Thyateira Nikitas (Loulias)
By Nick Stamatakis
I think I have a lot of company when I suggest that AB Elpidophoros’s days in America are numbered. Frankly, few can reasonably expect that any archbishop would survive as a leader after what he did. This community has forged a very strong identity through many decades by its support for Greece and Cyprus. What the Archbishop did was to demolish in one hour what was built by dedication and hard work during the last one hundred years.
The best way to explain the whole situation without repeating myself would be with a question: Do you know who else is also equally disappointed by this situation along with us Greeks and Cypriots? The Turkish Foreign Ministry and Intelligence Services. Yes my friends, do not be surprised. They have been investing in Elpidophoros Lambriniadis for over a decade – and let me tell you, they are very professional and they enjoy the highest reputation. Take a look at the 36-floor “Turkish House” they built across from the United Nations at a cost of $300 million. If this does not describe their professionalism to you, nothing ever will… A look at this 2012 article from Hurriyet, a top Turkish newspaper, will tell you that they were preparing Elpidophoros for at least 10 years, while this piece from Veterans Today – we were among the first to publish it – shows that he was known to be an agent of Turkish Intelligence… His latest actions become very clear when analyzed in this background.
By now we know that last Monday AB “Elpidoktonos” was warned by Greek diplomats not to attend but he responded: “I am not working for the Greek Government”. He knew that Turkish Cypriot leader Tatar would be there and he ignored it. As Tatar put it later, Elpidoktonos “is a Turkish citizen and he had an obligation to be there!..” All this in the background of turning the Hagia Sophia into a mosque… My friends, do you get the same chills in your back as I do when contemplating how many Archbishops and Metropolitans of the Patriarchate around the world are Turkish citizens?
One thing is for sure: The Turks have lost their investment in Elpidoktonos and it will cost them dearly: their plans to put all Greek Diaspora under control are on hold now. For his remaining days in America, AB Elpidoktonos will be forced to act and talk like the most patriotic Greek-American that you know. One more, even small, misstep, and he will be on his way to JFK to catch the next flight out to Istanbul. The same holds true for his successor – and this is certainly a reprieve for our community.
Who would that successor be?
Patriarch Bartholomew’s position is very weakened at the moment as many, including yours truly, support the relocation of the Patriarchate to Greece, leaving a few clergymen, some offices, and museums behind for the time when the Turks (are forced to) become a “civilized country”. The Patriarch has to make some very serious decisions in the weeks and months ahead. The clear possibility of two mediocrities (Elpidoktonos or Emmanuel – formerly of France) to succeed him is a sign of the coming downfall of the Patriarchate of Constantinople. The only reasonable solution would be to open up the candidacy to other Orthodox, among many other difficult decisions. But let’s leave these decisions to the Patriarch. In the meantime, he has to send a replacement to America if he does not want to lose this Church and community completely.
The best choice among the names I heard recently is Nikitas (Loulias), Αrchbishop of Thyateira (United Kingdom), an American-born clergyman, checking most of the boxes the Greek-American community would demand after the Elpidoktonos debacle. He will certainly not have any inclination to support the Turks, as he had enough experience at the office of Michael Bilirakis (Gus Bilirakis’ father) in DC to know very well all the “Greek” issues at hand. There are other names of course…
More important than installing a new archbishop is the way this should happen. The Patriarch has a great opportunity in his hands as he is holding under consideration the new Charter of GOARCH. Many rumors have circulated that some form of administrative autonomy for the Church is being discussed – although the Patriarchate is always interested in something more than spiritual control. Karloutsos and Co. are trying to satisfy the financial demands through the establishment of the “Bartholomew Foundation”. When the Patriarch finally decides that the Church of America will NOT EVER AGAIN be governed from Istanbul, then the final solution will be much easier to settle. This final solution will provide for the election of Archbishop and the Bishops or Metropolitans by a clergy and laity conference, demanding that our leaders are either born here or have many years of service in America.
The Patriarch can certainly ignore all the voices suggesting autocephaly/autonomy. But the cost will be the loss of this Church to the Patriarchate one way or the other. I have heard many desperate suggestions on how the faithful will react, ranging from collecting signatures, demonstrations, all the way to a class-action lawsuit. All reasonable people are hoping the worse will be avoided.
September 27, 2021, firstname.lastname@example.org www.helleniscope.com
I think we have to reframe the problem. We need to ask ourselves and each other how can we make our church great again. What do we need to keep and what do we need to let go of? What hinders our ability to start anew? Where do we start?
The same old corrupted hierarchy cannot reframe the problem. They are the problem! They cannot and will not make the church great again. We need to keep hope in our hearts. We need to meet outside of the hierarchy. What is stopping us from meeting outside the corrupted hierarchy?
What is the hierarchy in Greece saying about all this?
Our Church was under the Church of Greece when it was given to the Patriarchate 100 years ago, in a way that researchers have found to be illegal. But in our days the Church of Greece is mostly succumbing to the globalist agenda- with a few notable exceptions
Ideally I think Bishop Apostolos would have been viable candidate but not sure where he stands these days with the AB and archdiocese. He was always well liked in NY and now in NJ. Metropolitan Evangelos is MIA with conflicting stories as to where he was sent to exile because he was a bit vocal. I think he would have made an excellent AB though. Bishop Ierotheos of St Irene Chrysovalantou probably not because falls directly under the Partriarche plus he is part of a thriving church so unlikely he would step away from that. Father Nektarios from St Demetrios even though a vicar very unpopular as you can see churches are empty. Slim pickings..
I think the only priests left are the married ones which would probably be great but I don’t think they qualify. God help us!
Bishop Apostolos displayed all his flaws for every one to see in Astoria NY and in San Francisco…
Bishop Apostolos is just a quiet secretive version of the monumental train wreck known as AB Elpidoforos – aka the fairy
Oh I was unaware of that I thought everyone loved him at St Demetrios and in Astoria in general. If anything he was much better then what exists now.. slim pickings everywhere I guess. Thanks for always keeping us informed!!
The tragedy is that before the russian revolutuon there was one church in USA under the russians by canon law, but with each part. Greek etc to be itself with own bishops etc and with english as common language. And that was over 100 yrs ago.
It is so obvious, as with the Ukrainian debacle, that the corrupt phanar are only interested in spreading their hands into the money pot that is USA and Ukraine for themselves .
And what is the phanar in reality? A group of mostly decrepid elderly batchelors, some, hallo emmanuella, of decidedly suspect morals, living in a dead historical phantasy having. NOTHING to do with Christ. And does any body wonder why the churches are empty and dead? With few exceptions.
This conversation has gone round and round these last 30 yrs with matters getting worse. One day soon there will be no church left to worry about. The younger generation have long seen it as irrelevant to their life. Christ is abused and badly served.
There is a crisis in all churches as they are trying to connection with modern society using the cosmology and ideation of the medeval world. We go one better and live still in the medeval world.The end result will be death.
I’m sorry to say that men following men and not God is a fallacy. So why do we keep going down this pathway? The number of fallen church leaders, are everywhere. We don’t have to look far to see it in our church now. The hierarchy is fallen. So why re-create/repeat the same failed structure and environment doomed to fail?
We don’t need all of these “layers” in order to run a GO Church. Either you are anointed or you are not. These specific giftings aren’t learned in 4 years of Theology school. They are given to the few for God’s purpose. What the GO Church needs is a program which can help everyone find their unique purpose and giftings. When we realize that were not created in order to maintain a “religion” for traditional, cultural or ethnic purposes, then we can move beyond the limitations Orthodoxy has placed upon us.
Agree totally. I had the good fortune to have lived many years in London uk where apart from the cheerfull vitality of my local Wood Green large. Main, Greek cypriot parish, i knew the Russian church under the never to be forgotten Archbishop ( was from France, doctor and surgeon) Antony Bloom. Where i experienced a living, vital, growing church in beautiful worship with famous Russian choir singing in english as well as Slavonic and in organisation relating to it’s people and outeach.
I am bored with our endless obscessing with dead titles and dead life.
. ELPIDOPHOROS as Patriarch bad enough, BUT GOD HELP ME, Emmanuella of France. ?? I am devastated. Sickened and find it disgusting. At least Elpidophoros as far as I know, on personal level, is true to his vows and a decent enough man.
how lucky of you to have known the brilliant Anthony Bloom in England & participated in a great church.
& many of us feel your pain that repugnant Met. Emanuel of France, could possibly become next Patriarch!
Bartholomew lost his mind not to have defrocked him by now – what a mess
Study colonial churches in America. One poor preacher teaching Scripture in an old small building. Most people were poor.
The “school of theology” has been turned into an “indoctrination camp” in many ways, where alignment to the Church Fathers is discouraged whenever that doesn’t align with the views and actions of the “Popes of the East”. Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard anyone from the Phanar contingent praise St. Mark of Ephesus for what he said and did in 1439? Ask yourself why what we see and read today from a large percentage of these hierarchs is similar to what those who St. Mark of Ephesus opposed used to express?
As for the notion of “worthy hierarchs”, the solution is simple…stop the non-canonical exclusion of the people when electing bishops. The Canons stipulate that the people have a say, and evidence for that is the “remnant” of the tonsuring service where the people say “AXIOS”…what happens if they say “ANAXIOS” (Unworthy?)…they hid that part of the procedure didn’t they? That’s because none of them would have been hierarchs right now if they didn’t hide the original practice from you and me…
There are several recent examples from Greece that I personally know of, where a metropolitan died, and the people recommended a “good, respectable, reverent replacement”…what happened in each case? Ieronymos of Athens and his cronies ignored the request and “planted” someone of their own, leaving the “good, worthy ones” outside of the Church Hierarchy…that should never be allowed. At least in Cyprus, the people still vote for their Archbishop, but it’s unclear if they are voting between 2 or 3 “bad pre-selections”, like they do for us in politics where we typically have to vote between two bad options… anyway, returning to the original practice where people have a say in enthroning (and removing) their bishops is the only path to restore credibility in the hierarchy…
If you want Nikitas and Apostolos ( both very flawed) , you might as well keep the status quo. There isn’t one current Bishop or above who can handle the US and Karloutsos and the Ruling Oligarchs of Archon Foolishness. We have to reach into the married American clergy and your have to support him with a powerful laity of ordinary faithful from parish lives, not Park Ave and Cuomo crazies.
Very difficult to swallow for the Patriarchate… But where does it say in the Bible that Bishops have to be celibate? Nikitas may offer a transitional solution just because he is American-born, knows the community very well, and certainly will not repeat Elpidoktonos’ mistakes with the Turks…
Celibacy is not the primary issue, but rather corruption, and even basic Faith (if these individuals actually believe in anything other than money and power). Would you prefer to see the “non-celibate” Karloutsos as a bishop, for instance?
There still exist good, celibate options, but the “good ol’ boy” network won’t let them into the clubhouse anymore, even if it is the faithful who have proposed someone decent… Expose all the “good ol’ boy” crimes in the public eye so they are defrocked or removed, then allow the people to participate in the “hierarchical reset” that can restore confidence in leadership.
Spyridon is American born,too, and he was such a success, right?
I still cannot think of one current bishop or metropolitan who’s worth a damn as a man, priest, or temporal leader.
Dear Helleniscope, you ask where in the Bible it says that a bishop has to be celibate. We are all aware that our Orthodox bishops are chosen from amongst the celibate or widowed clerical ranks. Note, however, that the Bible implies that a bishop not be celibate, but rather be married! “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach.” I Tim. 3:2 Like you, I would welcome a return to that biblical custom for several reasons.
Thank you, Lawrence – very well put and needed support for this position…
I left GOARCH 30 years ago for ROCOR. I miss greatly Byzantine music, Greek customs, the Greek language, etc. so I visit every year, my local Greek church during Holy Week. Every year it confirms my good decision to go to ROCOR, and I run back to my ROCOR parish for Pascha night!
GOARCH has turned into, or always has been a Greek social club, rather than a ch of God. Modernism, ecumenism, feminism, “appointed” closeted secretly practicing homosexual, Masonic, bishops; on and on! In ROCOR, however the bishops come from monasteries and live like genuine monks. Women humbly cover their heads in God’s House, they don’t wear miniskirts to God’s House; people commune regularly and confession is required every time before Holy Communion. ROCOR is not perfect, it has its problems and there are some Russian politics in some parishes; but for the most part, ROCOR members are Orthodox FIRST and Russian (Greek, American, Georgian or other nationality) SECOND. When GOARCH members return to the ακρίβεια (strictness) of our Faith and members are Orthodox FIRST and Greek SECOND, there will be a huge change in the GOARCH!
Ορθοδοξία ή Θάνατος!
Orthodoxy or Death!
Orthodoxy must come FIRST!
O how the Newmartyrs of the Turkish Yoke suffered under Islam and the Turks to preserve our Faith; yet Νεοέλληνες are only interested in glendia, Sytaki and baklava! They don’t know the Faith and could care less. Έλεος, Κύριε!
The devil loves this conversation. It solves nothing.
They should pick bishops from the Ephraim monasteries here in the U.S….but….they’re too “Orthodox” for the GOARCH social club who care nothing for Orthodoxy. How they still get converts is beyond me.
I have also left GOARCH for ROCOR
Excuse me Jane,
we need conversation/dialogue to begin a master plan – a way out of this disaster –
most of us are astounded,
still in disbelief what’s happened to our Greek ecclesia
Start talking to each church’s membership. That’s a huge job to organize. Take a survey. Learn how the members feel, what they know about what is going on. Start a new GOA with priests willing to leave the corruption. I am just brainstorming at the moment. The old way is dead. Start a small church that not a 5013c.
Stop allowing the government to hold the reigns to the new GOA. Throw the corrupt hierarchy overboard. Start zoom meetings. Your turn….
I appreciate your frustration and the radical brainstorming that comes out of it. Believe you me, I myself feel “…astounded, still in disbelief at what’s happened to our Greek ecclesia”, as Zoey Metaxas puts it. However, any solution to the problem MUST avoid the schismatic tendencies of the American Protestant spirit.
If anyone starts something new outside of the canonical Church and that group stubbornly remains outside of the Church, it will be in schism and end up petering out and fading into oblivion. We have the originally non-canonical advantage in the U.S. that there are several canonical Churches for a new group to associate with. Start with one of them and seek a canonical bishop’s guidance lest you miss God’s blessing and doom the group to future insignificance.
Larry, it’s not schismatic to stand for the truth and tear up the old, corrupt, heretical order. A man named Jesus did the same.
And please don’t tell me GOA is Christ’s church. GOA hijacked an authentic church and turned it into a religious gang of bangers and grifters.
Ouch! I get that “fingernails-across-the-blackboard” feeling when total strangers call me Larry. That’s not my nickname.
Anyway, dear American, you don’t know how much I agree with you. I am at a loss as to how to rescue the GOA from the men that lead it now. Good luck to anyone who is brave enough to attempt that one. What is of paramount importance, however, is that we – any and all of us – find safe places to work out our own salvation within the bosom of the broader Orthodox Church.
Let me say this. St. Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and one of the most prominent of the early martyrs put it this way, and I quote: “See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is administered either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” —Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Ch. 8
All that I am saying in reply to Jane, and with this quotation from St. Ignatius in mind, is that any new group that starts in protest against the heresy and schism caused by the hierarchy of the GOA needs to be very careful that they eagerly and humbly seek out the omophorion of another bishop of another jurisdiction within the context of the canonical Orthodox Church. Lucklily, that should not be a problem in our country, since there are indeed several such jurisdictions, and many of their bishops are likely just as shocked as Jane or you or I am at the behavior of the GOA bishops.
One of these other bishops may be willing to take such a new group of Orthodox faithful under his wing, especially if the group has positive missional reasons for leaving the GOA in addition to their negative reasons for leaving. If their reasons for leaving the GOA or any hierarchy are only negative then they will not thrive in the long run. A bitter Christian group with a congregationalist polity will fail, and soon.
American: they are gangsters in priest clothing,
Karloutsos using priesthood to hobnob with corrupt politicians. Nice work Alex!