Southampton, New York, March 29, 2021
For several decades, Protopresbyter Alexander Karloutsos has been one of the most powerful and influential, and therefore controversial, men in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and in the entire Patriarchate of Constantinople.
After 51 years as a priest, he has announced his retirement from parish ministry. However, he will continue to be active in many other ways. “I will retire, but not retreat,” he writes in his letter to Archbishop Elpidophoros, published by Helleniscope.
Fr. Alexander has served in a number of capacities since his ordination in 1970, most notably as the Special Assistant to Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople and as representative of the Archdiocese to the White House, the Congress, state and local officials, Greek American organizations, political action, religious freedom and human rights groups.
The Pappas Post writes that he is “on a first name basis with sitting and past U.S. Presidents, foreign heads of state and business leaders throughout the world as a result of his advocacy efforts for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and Greek Orthodox Church matters internationally, personally raised tens of millions of dollars from wealthy donors and orchestrated the largest single fundraising effort ever in the Greek American community.”
The fundraising effort refers to the rebuilding of the St. Nicholas Church at Ground Zero, the price tag for which has proven highly controversial in the Greek Archdiocese, as many allege that millions of dollars have gone missing.
Of the eight presidents he has known, Fr. Alexander describes Joe Biden as his “closest friend,” and has compared President Biden to Nelson Mandela, saying Biden “has a great sense of faith.”
“This is certainly the end of an era for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese,” Helleniscope writes in its analysis.
According to his biography on the site of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons, where he serves as rector, he is also spiritual advisor to the Archons (the Order of St. Andrew) and to Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy & Hellenism, and is the Orthodox chaplain for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
He has also served as Executive Director of Leadership 100, Vicar of Public Affairs of the GOA, Archdiocesan Director of Youth Ministry, Director of the Office of Church and Society, and Director of the Department of Communications.
While retiring from parish ministry, Fr. Alexander intends to remain active as the spiritual advisor to the Archons, working to establish The Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation. He would also like to continue serving as spiritual advisor to the Friends of St. Nicholas in order to help “complete this most important and historic project,” referring to the church at Ground Zero.
He will also help organize and implement Pat. Bartholomew’s visitation to the U.S. in honor of his 30th anniversary as Patriarch of Constantinople.
As such a powerful figure in the Patriarchate of Constantinople, no stranger to the elites in both the ecclesiastical and secular worlds, Fr. Alexander is also no stranger to controversy and accusations.
Helleniscope write that his clerical salary “does not and cannot account for his wealth. And this cloud of ‘unaccountability’ will forever stain his name.” “He will be forever known for enjoying the ‘elixir of power’ more than anything else in his life. The hardest part of his retirement will be just that, dealing with the loss of power…”
He has been described as the “man behind the curtain,” and it is widely alleged that he was involved in the overthrow of Archbishop Iakovos in 1996. He was also heavily involved in organizing the 2016 Crete Council and in the decision to move ahead with the Council despite the request for postponement from several Local Churches.
On the other hand, he has also been described as “a man of God, a caring husband, father and grandfather, who cares for his community and for the church to which he has dedicated his life,” and in 2018, the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Archons bestowed the Human Rights Award upon him and his wife Presbytera Xanthi “for their exceptional service and devotion to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and their beloved Dormition Church of the Hamptons, in addition to their extensive philanthropic work around the world.”
Other recipients of the Human Rights Award include President Joe Biden and “Metropolitan” Epiphany Dumenko, the head of the schismatic “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” created by the Patriarchate of Constantinople.