Abp. Elpidophoros to Assembly of Bishops: We have conflicts because you don’t recognize Constantinople’s Ukrainian church

Los Angeles, February 1, 2023

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The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA opened its latest session at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles on January 30.

As chairman of the Assembly, Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese (Patriarchate of Constantinople) offered the opening address.

The Archbishop began by reminding of the purpose of the Assembly of Bishops, as stated in its Rules of Operation:

The purpose of the Episcopal Assembly is to manifest the unity of the Orthodox Church, to promote collaboration between the churches in all areas of pastoral ministry, and to maintain, preserve and develop the interests of the communities that belong to the canonical Orthodox Bishops of the Region.

Quoting Patriarch Bartholomew, Abp. Elpidophoros emphasized that the Assembly makes decisions by consensus, because, “The synodal institution derives its origin from the depths of the mystery of the Church… By professing through the sacred Symbol our faith in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, we are simultaneously also proclaiming its synodality…”

“In other words, we cannot separate our affirmation about the Lord Jesus Christ from our responsibility to act in a synodal way,” the Archbishop added.

At the same time, he noted that there are differences between the bishops of the Assembly and between the Local Churches throughout the Orthodox world, especially as concerns the war in Ukraine.

And: “The lack of recognition of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine under Metropolitan Epiphanios by the jurisdictions in this room, except those of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, continues to be source of conflict and disagreement.”

Recall that the majority of Local Churches reject the creation and recognition of the so-called “Orthodox Church of Ukraine” precisely because it was done unilaterally by Constantinople. Hierarchs and Local Synods have been calling for a pan-Orthodox synaxis since 2018 to deal with the issue, but Pat. Bartholomew has routinely refused to gather with his brother hierarchs.

Due to Constantinople’s anti-canonical interference in Ukraine, the Russian Orthodox Church withdrew from the local assemblies of bishops throughout the diaspora, as they are chaired by hierarchs of Constantinople.

But Abp. Elpidophoros is “committed to bringing our Russian brethren back to the table,” he says.

The GOARCH head also addressed the issue of multiple jurisdictions and their ecclesiastical allegiances, saying: “Each of us has an allegiance to our Mother Church, and our OCA brothers, in their independent status, have an internal allegiance to one another. There is nothing wrong in these allegiances, as long as they do not inhibit our allegiance to Christ!”

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Editor2/4/2023 7:23 pm
John D: Thank you very much for your comments, which bring a lot of clarity.
Steve2/4/2023 6:26 pm
Unfortunately, Archbishop Elpidophoros is correct though. The unity of the Assembly of Bishops in America was directly impacted by Russia's breaking of communion with the EP. Because of this, both ROCOR and the MP were no longer allowed to participate in the Assembly. The additional problem of the creation of the Slavic Vicariate and Fr. Alexander Belya is also directly related to this, because ROCOR stopped communication with Archbishop Elpidophoros and did nothing directly to prevent it. It is a fact that Archbishop Elpidophoros received nothing, no words of protest even, from ROCOR or the MP to stop his reception of Father Alexander Belya and the creation of the Slavic Vicariate.
John D2/4/2023 3:05 am
The Error of Blind Obedience to Bishops – According to the Saints of the Orthodox Church by Nektarios Dapergolas https://russian-faith.com/authors/nektarios-dapergolas From the Apostle Paul to the Cappadocian fathers, and from Saint Athanasios to Photios the Great, when all our Holy Church Fathers speak of improper obedience, they urge the faithful to defy and disobey those ‘ecclesiastical shepherds’ who are wrong and heretical. This issue is very timely because we live in a particularly dangerous time, a time of great dogmatic and spiritual confusion, a time when some church hierarchs are increasingly compelling the faithful to obey their demands to deviate from the teachings of our Holy Church by adopting various profane aberrations and blasphemous innovations. (And here I include all that we have endured these last few months, the arbitrary church lockdowns and sterilizations, worshipping with masks, prohibiting the veneration of Holy Icons, packaged church bread, and the heightened fear of illness and death, even at the Holy Chalice). From this point onwards, we shall bear witness to newer, modern saints, who urge the faithful to disobey heresy and erring bishops when there are good reasons to do so. Let us begin with Saint Nicodemus of Mount Athos, who was perfectly aligned with St. John Chrysostom’s writings several centuries ago when he wrote, “If your elder is mistaken in the affairs of the state and its institutions, do not be curious. If, however, he is wrong in matters of the Faith, leave and abandon him, be he a man or even an angel from heaven.” Recall also the impressive foresight of the famous Russian Saint John Maximovich (1897 – 1966), Bishop of Shanghai and San Francisco. The Saint’s foresight is an explicit exhortation against blind obedience and all types of delusional fantasies. In his words: “In the last days, evil and heresy will have spread so widely that the faithful will not be able to find a priest or shepherd to protect them from delusion and guide them to salvation. At that time, the faithful will not receive safe guidance from men; but their guide will be the writings of the Holy Fathers. Especially at this time, every believer will be responsible for the whole fulness of the Church. Brethren, it is time for us all to undertake our responsibility to God and to history. Do not tolerate any more foolishness or misguidance from priests or archpriests. Do not turn a blind eye for you will be co- responsible. The Saints are forewarning you.”
John D2/4/2023 1:41 am
What Should we do when our Bishop is an Ecumenist? What should we do when we witness the acknowledged first-in-honor bishop of the Orthodox Church flagrantly violating the canons of the Church with common prayers and with statements that compromise the uniqueness of the Church? Read Morehttps://www.orthodoxwitness.org/category/ecumenism/page/3/?wpv_view_count=27549 March 4, 2015 by Fr. Emmanuel Hatzidakis Ecumenism
Vassilios2/2/2023 10:08 pm
The American orthodox must pray for our bishops and be careful with our comments not to have any malice towards another orthodox brethren lest we inflame passions in our hearts and lose God. Let us choose humility and prayer, the narrow road that leads to salvation, rather than scathing words that cut like a knife. Most of the comments here would be good to print out and show our parish priest in confession. I am no friend of ecumenism and liberalism, but these are our Bishops we’re talking about. Be very careful to guard thy heart from anything that is not God. Forgive me for my comments and pray for me a sinner. With much love for all the Orthodox brethren here. Vassilios
Bob2/2/2023 7:31 pm
And to him we say, "We have conflicts because you DO recognize Constantinople’s Ukrainian church."
Herman2/2/2023 4:59 pm
And all the other bishops sat and listened. Where is our modern day St Nicholas, to rise up and slap Arius for speaking heresy? Our bishops are too busy getting vaccinated and praying in catholic churches to actually stand up for Orthodoxy these days.
Alex2/2/2023 5:32 am
Sorry, but Elpidophoros needs to stop smoking weed! He doesn't have a clue!
Panagiotis2/2/2023 4:22 am
The liberal clown who marched with BLM and baptized children of homosexuals. The other Bishops should resign from this organization, and then the clown chairman can conduct a meeting all by himself, or maybe he can invite BLM and the homosexuals to come over to the meeting. May Almighty God and The Panagia help us and give our Orthodox People knowledge. Glory be to God, and fear Almighty God. Thoxa Si O Theos, Thoxa Si. Just my humble opinion.
Menas2/2/2023 12:10 am
So the clown who brought us such gifts as: 1) marching with BLM during a pandemic while shutting down parishes 2) Gay baptisms in Greece 3) First Without Equals And so many more, is now lecturing the other bishops on recognizing the schismatic OCU. How rich.
Alexander 2/2/2023 12:03 am
Depose these apostate!
Theodoros 2/1/2023 11:45 pm
This man is totally unfit for the office he holds. His ignorance on the matters of Orthodox ecclesiology, his indifference on moral issues, and his destructive contribution to the persecution of the Ukrainian Church necessitates that he be deposed. Those of us Of Greek ancestry have responsibility to denounce him and Patriarch Bartholomew. This man who marched with blacks lives matter remains silent as the Zelensky government gradually deprives the Ukrainian Church of all basic religious, civil, and human rights. ANAXIOS!
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