By Jackie Morfesis

Again and again, we are confronted with a spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese who seems to be having an identity crisis. The crisis? His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros does not know if he is a social justice activist or spiritual warrior. The truth is he has already drawn a line in the sand. Evident once again at his words delivered at the Ecumenical Prayer Service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine in New York City.

Allow me to explain. As an Orthodox Christian, whether within the hierarchy of the church, or a layman, we are all called to be spiritual warriors, kingdom workers, and disciples of Christ. Clearly delineated and mandated to us by St. Paul in Ephesians 6:12. From the place and space of our spiritual foundation, the Holy Spirit within, and our personal relationship with Jesus Christ, we stand not only against the powers and principalities that seek to destroy our world, each other, but against all forms of hatred, racism, prejudice, and discrimination. This goes without saying.

However, the question is where is our foundation? Do we build our home on sand or rock? “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them not practice like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mind and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (Matthew 7:24-27).

If we build our home on sand, then a few things happen. Firstly, we are subject to the winds and tides of constant change. We find ways to incorporate ever-changing world views into our faith walk. We find ways to meld, mold, remake, revise, and reform who we are as Orthodox Christians. Simply, we find ways to please the world but not please God.

If, on the other hand, we see our foundation in God’s Word, God’s laws, and the doctrines and theology of Orthodoxy, then we stand upon the unshakeable rock, the rock that holds us in the storms and the rock that holds fast the Light not only within but as a beacon to us through every attempt of the adverse powers to “steal, and to kill, and to destroy”. “The enemy comes but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy, I come that they may have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Again, social justice activist or spiritual warrior? Archbishop Elpidophoros has craftily fashioned himself as the former. He envisions himself as a social justice activist, but not a spiritual warrior for Christ. How do we know this? What evidence is given to us? He gives evidence every day by his words and his actions. He often mentions and in effect likens himself to the work and life of Archbishop Iakovos, former Archbishop of North and South America. The comparison falls flat for many reasons.

Firstly, Archbishop Iakovos bravely and courageously stood next to a man of deep faith, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who stood for non-violence. Dr. King did not espouse any political ideology or narrative that called for the destruction of family values, of the family unit, of the “peace that passeth all understanding.” We often forget, sometimes conveniently, that Dr. King was first and foremost a pastor, a preacher, and this was the source of his spiritual strength. Only from this place could he speak of being on the mountaintop. We know who took him there and who anointed his tongue with words of wisdom for God’s glory.

Archbishop Iakovos marched side-by-side with Dr. King, not as a leader who condoned violence or anarchy or ideologies that warred brother against brother, but in support of the ideals of equality, true justice, harmony and fellowship in our common humanity. In contrast, Archbishop Elpidophoros is not rooted in Orthodoxy as he moves in the world, he is rooted in an ever-shifting political ideologies and narratives that change with the wind depending on who is watching and who is listening. Granted when the storm comes – we will all be witness to the house falling. For the record, Archbishop Iakovos frequently visited my parish in New Jersey, and I met him several times as a youth.

The great irony that is missed by those who trumpet the politically correct horn of social justice at the expense of all, is that our God already laid the foundation for social justice. And our Lord and Savior reminded us in 1 John 2:3-6, that if we love God, we keep His commandments. That does not mean that we participate in, condone, or rally behind every new ideology that floats down the river. It means that we know whose hand steadies the boat in our lives, who is the anchor and who is the lighthouse.

In his attempt to position himself as a great and lauded social justice activist, Archbishop Elpidophoros has not only chipped away at two thousand years of Orthodoxy, but he is also wounding our Lord in the process. When we attack God’s house, we attack our God. Rest assured, not only our churches, but the faithful who are the church are being attacked and wounded. When we forget that our church is the Bride of Christ – not the nexus and locus for political activism, we forget our true identity.

One need only read his politically correct words that he spoke at this gathering: “The objectification of the “other” leads to the most inhuman of consequences.” I am well-aware of the cruelty of being objectified – which is certainly being dehumanized, however, there is a much deeper root to that horror, and it is evil, human, and demonic. And the “other”, more convenient verbiage to install shame and embarrassment on those who are not the “other”, perhaps those who are not marginalized. More words, in the ever-shifting landscape of linguistic coercion used to elevate and exclude, pivoted against those who are “privileged.” Words have meaning and purpose, but words are now used to weaponize. Weaponize against who we are as a child of God. Anything that seeks to denigrate, diminish, or demoralize who we are as a child of God is not from God, nor Godly.

Not once did the Archbishop speak truth to who we are as a child of God during the protests for social justice. Not once. Not once did he say as he proudly marched during the protests that all souls matter. Notice, I did not say that all lives matter, which we know, but that all souls matter, profoundly and eternally. Our Lord went to Calvary for every single one us, every single one. No, that is against the Archbishop’s identity as a social justice activist – against his narrative. His narrative of inclusion – which is really exclusion. But saying: “All souls matter” would be completely congruent with being a spiritual warrior. So would admitting that everyone deserves mercy, and that mercy should not be politicized. In fact, I wrote an essay addressing these issues that was rejected by the powers that be at “Publix Orthodoxy” at Fordham University, another bastion of political not spiritual correctness.

Moving forward, what exactly does the Archbishop mean by this words in his encyclical: “Our prayers this evening reflect our common aspiration as Christians to “do good,” and to “seek justice,” in accordance with the Prophetic calling that is our theme. What exactly is he seeking? And what prophetic calling has come upon us? He is once again speaking in riddle, rhyme, twisting words, with innuendo, confusion, and distortion (the tools of darkness). We must instead speak with full transparency at all times. However, that is dangerous – for those who receive personal power and benefit from smokescreens.

I am also curious, in the year 2025 when his “prophetic” dream of a unified Easter may come to pass – will the Holy Fire still come down inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem to be shared with all the faithful as it is every year at midnight on Orthodox Easter? Or will Archbishop Elpidophoros send an official memo that since the date of Easter has been changed in the spirit of unity, we are no longer in need of this holy and sacred miracle?

God help us. Again and again, Archbishop Elpidophoros evidences that his aims are political not spiritual, earthly not heavenly, and with a personal not Godly agenda. Rest assured, the time will come when every Orthodox Christian, including our clergy, hierarchs, and those who serve God’s altar, will with a heavy heart repent for the day they kept silent when not only our faith was being dishonored, disrespected, and devalued, but our very future as the Early Church was placed in dire jeopardy.


  1. Excellent article Miss Jackie and can you please send this to Elpidoforos?

    This lousy choice for Archbishop is seriously deluded; how was he objectified?? Is he whining about being Gay?

  2. Ms. Morfesis, would you please comment as to your theological education or training? (And PLEASE don’t tell me how many years of Sunday School you completed or how many churches you have attended.) I have been reading several of your articles on this forum and, although I agree with much — not everything, but a decent portion — of what you say (that is, some of your personal opinions and the basic tenets of the Faith), I question a lot of what you “analyze”. Even a junior or senior Sunday School student can state the “obvious” stuff that you state in your articles, but when you start interpreting the Epistles and the Gospels and attempt to sound like you’re coming from a theological angle, well, I want to know where you got your education from so that I can determine if what you say is within the boundaries of Orthodoxy and in line with the writings of the Holy Fathers. As for the Archbishop, everyone has an opinion (and you know what they say about opinions, right?) and everyone thinks they could have selected a “better choice”, and everyone is quick to criticize and “interpret” and “analyze” his statements. Most such interpretations are way off the mark and are nonsensical. The point is that instead of totally trashing Elpidophoros, I encourage you to send an email to his office or even request an audience with him and ask for clarification and even discuss your concerns. I know you may believe you understand what you THINK he said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard may NOT be what he meant. (Makes sense?) The last time the Faithful of America went totally against an Archbishop (because, you know, people just know EVERYTHING and are qualified to remove and “oust” Archbishops — in their own minds, that is…), we lost out on an awesome hierarch who only wanted the best for Orthodoxy in this country. But they all but crucified him and wound up forcing his resignation. (And yes, make no mistake about it, Spyridon’s resignation was a HUGE BLOW to the Orthodox faithful of this country that, frankly, should never have happened. Just on the matter of the Greek language alone, we went BACKWARDS 10 or 20 years, but that’s another topic.) We cannot pretend we’re all theologians and be so quick to criticize the words of the Archbishop. (The esteemed editor of this forum does that all the time and, frankly, I’m sick of calling him out on some of the rubbish that he prints.) Let’s be serious and agree that the SOLE PURPOSE of our existence here on Earth (before we are called to the afterlife and, hopefully, be with the Lord) is to live our lives the way HE wants us to live them, to follow the examples and the teachings that HE gave us directly, and to glorify His Name in the way that is most befitting of the Son of God, the One who redeemed humanity by paying our debt on the Cross. To look at the splinter in our neighbor’s eye before removing the log in our own is contrary to Orthodox teaching. (And this, I say from a theological perspective…)

    • I have to take exception to your request for formal religious education of an author. Formal religious education does not give you but a minor authority to answer faith issues. This website is open to all to present their views and expects the dialogue to happen based on fair argumentation without “pulling rank”… Do you have the arguments to oppose a certain thesis? Here is your chance – present them on a fair and square mode. If you do not have the arguments be silent.

  3. Well, Nick, that’s a pretty cheesy reply. So in other words, you are willing to let just anybody come in here and say whatever baseless argument they want in a headliner article, all in the name of the forum being “open to all”? Nice. That’s a great way to cheapen the forum, in my opinion. That shows me you are not interested in having more authoritative and credible people write articles on Helleniscope. I’m not saying Ms. Morfesis is NOT “authoritative and credible”, I’m merely asking her to prove it, because after all, SHE’S the one writing the article. The presentation of views and the fair argumentation of dialogue happens in the comment section, not in the main (authoritative?) article. And you are absolutely WRONG about your statement that “Formal religious education does not give you but a minor authority to answer faith issues.” REALLY, Nick? C’mon, surely you have more pride about Helleniscope than that. If that’s the case, then where’s the credibility? Where’s the authority? Does the same hold true for brain surgeons? If I came to you and asked you if I could write a main article on the modern medical practices of brain surgery, but I am NOT a brain surgeon, would you let me? All in the interest of your forum being “open to all”, right? Well, if you WOULD let me write that article on brain surgery, then you have cheapened your forum to nothing more than a supermarket tabloid. I honestly would rethink your reply on taking exception to my request for formal religious education of an author. The reasoning is simple: Ms. Morfesis is writing an article having to do with the Church and her leaders, and within that article she is theologically interpreting Scripture. Well, I want to know what qualifications she has to do that before I make a determination whether she is credible, or whether I have wasted my time reading (and consequently, she has wasted her time writing) the article.

    • If I follow your logic I wouldn’t let anybody present any opinions on Cyprus and Eastern Mediterranean (geo)politics because I have a doctoral degree on these issues and I am an authority. Helleniscope is not about authority but about exchange of ideas. The best discussions start from what we call “stupid” questions..


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