New York, July 12, 2022
In response to the repeated protest of leading hierarchs of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese announced the postponement of its plan to consecrate a defrocked former priest to the episcopate.
Thus, the consecration of former Archimandrite Alexander Belya, who was canonically defrocked by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, will not take place on July 30 as originally planned.
OrthoChristian sources say that Archbishop Elpidophoros was ordered by Patriarch Bartholomew to put a halt to the consecration.
On June 15, GOARCH announced that the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople had elected Belya to become a vicar bishop of GOARCH in charge of its Slavic Vicariate, which is mainly made up of suspended, defrocked, and schismatic clerics.
The decision provoked a strong protest from leading hierarchs of the Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochian, Romanian, Serbian, and Bulgarian Churches in America, all of which recognize the defrocking of Belya by ROCOR, the jurisdiction to which he belonged before he fled to GOARCH while under canonical suspension from the priesthood.
Abp. Elpidophoros responded, largely sidestepping the serious issues raised by the Assembly hierarchs, and they addressed the Archbishop again earlier this week, reiterating their position that they will quit the Assembly of Bishops if Belya becomes a member.
Today’s statement from GOARCH reads in full:
In a spirit of the careful responsibility for the preservation of Orthodox Christian unity in the United States of America, the episcopal ordination of His Grace Bishop-Elect Alexander of Nicopolis has been postponed until a consensus has been reached. His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America is committed to engaging in an open dialogue of brotherly love and understanding with the other heads of jurisdictions of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the U.S.A., while at the same time determined to prioritize constructive partnership and cooperation.
The Assembly of Bishops is a unique venue where all the Orthodox Christian jurisdictions participate in the building of Christ’s Body in America through dialogue, joint program development, and concelebration. As Saint Paul proclaimed: “You were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6)