New York, June 16, 2021
Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople celebrated his name’s day on Friday, June 11, on the feast of the Holy Apostle Bartholomew.
In honor of the occasion, Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America presided over a Divine Liturgy at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan. He was joined by several other GOARCH hierarchs and Archbishop Michael of New York and New Jersey of the Orthodox Church in America.
“Bishop Dean Wolfe, Rector of Saint Bartholomew’s Church, joyfully has extended his blessing to His Eminence for this joyous occasion to take place,” reported the press service of the Greek Archdiocese.
In his homily, Abp. Elpidophoros declared the service “an ecumenical gesture worthy of the occasion.”
The service has proven quite scandalous among the Orthodox faithful, not only because the hierarchs decided to serve in a non-Orthodox church, but also because St. Bartholomew’s is well-known for promoting sinful LGBTQ lifestyles.
The church offers a Lesbian and Gay Fellowship that “is fully integrated into the leadership of our large church.”
And just five days before the Orthodox hierarchs served there, a ceremony of the blessing of the pride flag was held at the church. The flag was flying over the entrance to the church when the hierarchs entered, and will remain there throughout June, known as “Pride Month” amongst LGBTQ propagandists.
Conversely, St. Tikhon’s Seminary in South Canaan, Pennsylvania, where Abp. Michael is both rector and a professor, held a conference in late 2019 dedicated to upholding the Church’s traditional teachings on anthropology and sexuality, including a talk by Abp. Michael entitled, “Trusting our Tradition in Facing Modern Challenges.”
Following the service, Abp. Elpidophoros offered a homily focused on the person of Pat. Bartholomew, whom he terms the “Spiritual Father of Orthodox Christianity.”
And explaining why they decided to celebrate in a heterodox church, the Archbishop said: “It is precisely because of the ecumenicity of the First Throne of Orthodoxy, and the faithful and inspiring ecumenical ministry of our Patriarch. His All-Holiness has now served longer on the Throne of the First-Called Apostle than any other Hierarch. For this alone, this day is most fitting indeed, especially in a church that shares his heavenly patron, the Apostle Bartholomew!”
The “ecumenical commitment” of “building bridges” rather than “acknowledging walls … stands at the very heart of what it means to be a Christian,” Abp. Elpidophoros preached.
The beauty of soul, heart, and mind are “nowhere more manifest than in the sacred and most revered person of His All-Holiness our Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew,” the GOARCH hierarch continued. “He is a living Apostle of love.”
Pat. Bartholomew is always open to dialogue with all, even those outside the Christian faith, the Archbishop extolled. He also praised the Patriarch for his ecological work, which has earned him the nickname, “The Green Patriarch.”
At the end of his homily, Abp. Elpidophoros announced that the Archons of the Ecumenical Throne-the Order of St. Andrew had established the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew Foundation—“a worldwide effort to ensure that the ministry of the Mother Church of Constantinople will be set upon a firm footing for generations to come.”
Following Abp. Elpidophoros, the head of the Archons, Anthony Limberakis spoke, also offering great praise for Pat. Bartholomew and “abundant thanks and praise” to God for him.
“He is the embodiment and very incarnation of the ministry of reconciliation,” Limberakis declared.
The head of the Archons also lauded the Patriarch of Constantinople for offering “religious freedom to 43 million worthy faithful of Ukraine” by issuing the tomos of autocephaly to the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine.”
Note that 43 million represents the total population of Ukraine, not the number who identify as Orthodox, or the number who identify as members of the OCU that received the tomos.
Limberakis also praised the Patriarch as a man who promotes Orthodox unity, and particularly noted that he has met and worked with three Popes of Rome.
He also praised Archbishop Elpidophoros for his fervent dedication to the Patriarchate of Constantinople.