Istanbul, July 28, 2022
Recent actions of Archbishop Elpidophoros that have drawn considerable criticism of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Patriarchate of Constantinople were the hot topic of discussion at the latest session of Constantinople’s Synod of Bishops on July 21-22.
Patriarch Bartholomew “received from synodal hierarchs an almost unanimous number of remarks, concerns, revelations, and complaints about the arbitrariness and actions of the Archbishop Elpidophoros of America which have put the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Patriarch himself personally in a difficult position,” reports the National Herald.
“It was one of the few times that so many hierarchs expressed themselves in this way,” the Herald notes.
“Patriarch Bartholomew is said to be very troubled and distressed by what is happening, as he is receiving complaints from everywhere about Archbishop Elpidophoros—and he doesn’t know what to do.” The Synod was informed that many priests don’t want the Archbishop, but are afraid to speak out of fear of persecution.
In particular, the report mentions the scandal surrounding the Archbishop’s plans to consecrate a canonical defrocked priest, Alexander Belya, to the episcopate. The Synod spoke about the serious pushback from the hierarchs of other jurisdictions in America and their threats to withdraw from the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America if Belya becomes a member.
GOARCH was forced to indefinitely postpone the consecration, which would have taken place this coming Saturday.
Recall that it was the Holy Synod itself that previously elected Belya as an auxiliary bishop for GOARCH and its Slavic Vicariate.
The National Herald also reports that Belya and his brother were at the Phanar, waiting outside the Synod chambers for hours until the meeting was over. “Asked about this, the Patriarch reportedly replied that he did not have a chance to tell Elpidophoros not to send him.”
Belya is also currently suing the Eastern American Diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and several prominent hierarchs and clerics.
There was also a discussion about the scandal surrounding the Archbishop’s celebration of the publicity-focused Baptism of the children of an internationally famous gay couple, who praised him for celebrating Greece’s first “openly gay Baptism.”
Following the complaint of Metropolitan Antonios of Glyfada, in whose diocese the Baptism took place, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece sent letters of protest to Abp. Elpidophoros and Pat. Bartholomew.
“Despite the interventions of Synod members, the Patriarch ignored the matter and did not allow anything about it to be included in the announcements, sending the message in all directions that he is covering for and supports Archbishop Elpidophoros. The Patriarch is reported to have said that, ‘we cannot change Archbishops in America every three years,’” the National Herald reports.
The Synod also discussed the issue with the GOARCH charter, which the Synod suspended in October 2020 at Abp. Elpidophoros’ insistence without following proper procedure. The hierarchs decided to lift the suspension and make the charter active again.
“It was also said that it was an unacceptable mistake to dethrone Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, without his having an opportunity to respond to the allegations of Elpidophoros.” The National Herald reports that some hierarchs were even shocked when they learned how the given Synod session transpired in October 2020.