Istanbul, July 27, 2023
On Tuesday, July 25, Archimandrite Theophan (Koja) was consecrated as a bishop for the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Albanian Diocese of America.
The Divine Liturgy in which he was ordained was presided over by Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America at St. George Patriarchal Cathedral in Istanbul, reports the Greek Archdiocese.
Abp. Elpidophoros was concelebrated by other Constantinople hierarchs, and Bishop Andrei of the Orthodox Church in America’s Romanian Episcopate, the diocese in which Fr. Theophan served as a priest for over a decade, also attended the service. A delegation from the Patriarchate of Romania was also present.
The choice of Fr. Theophan, a native Albanian who studied and was ordained in Romania and later served in the Orthodox Church of America, was vigorously protested by the Albanian Orthodox Church, which remembers him as a leader of schismatic activity in Albania in the 1990s and beyond.
As the Albanian Church revealed, the OCA chose not to consecrate Fr. Theophan as the next bishop for its own Albanian Archdiocese when it learned of his activity in Albania, and instead elected Igumen Nikodhim (Preston).
And after his consecration, the Albanian Church again expressed its extreme displeasure, stating: “An unprecedented reward for undermining the unity of the Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania. An unprecedented confirmation of his unfitness to lead the Orthodox flock.”
And according to the Albanian Church, the new bishop even proclaimed a heresy during the service:
During the critical moment of his episcopal ordination, presided over by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America at the Phanar on July 25, 2023, Theophan Koja recited the Creed with the Filioque.
At the same time, OrthoChristian is unaware of any video evidence corroborating the Albanian Church’s accusation.
The Albanian Diocese currently consists of two parishes, one mission parish, the Philomelion House in Las Vegas, and the St. Nicholas Orthodox Christian Academy in Reno.