Mt. Athos to Patriarch Bartholomew: Archbishop Elpidophoros isn’t welcome here

Mt. Athos, January 4, 2024

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The abbots and representatives of all the 20 Athonite monasteries have unanimously declared that Archbishop Elpidophoros, the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, is not welcome to visit the Holy Mountain later this month.

The monasteries recently informed Patriarch Bartholomew about this by letter. The letter was published by the National Herald in Greek (and picked up by Romfea and other outlets) and in English translation by the Mystagogy Resource Center.

In their letter, the monasteries explain that the Archbishop is not welcome following the scandal he caused when he baptized the child of an openly gay couple in Greece last summer.

The event caused a storm of reactions from Greek hierarchs, including Metropolitan Antonios of Glyfada, in whose diocese the Baptism was held, who says that Abp. Elpidophoros concealed the full truth from him.

Mt. Athos also issued a statement at that time, and the matter was serious enough that the Greek Holy Synod sent a letter of protest to Patriarch Bartholomew.

The monasteries write that the Archbishop created the wrong public impression that the Church is accepting of gay marriage.

According to the National Herald, its Athonite contacts state that the Sacred Community, which represents the 20 ruling monasteries, do not intend to welcome the Archbishop according to the normal protocol. The Fathers feel they are in a tough position, as they can’t simply close their doors to a hierarch, but they don’t want to be photographed with him to try to show that the monks accept him.

The outlet also reports that he was told he was unwelcome when he tried to visit Athos several months ago.

The monasteries’ letter to Pat. Bartholomew reads:

By means of this letter under our sacred common seal, we proceed, on the occasion of the upcoming visit of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America to the State of the Holy Mountain, to submit before Your All-Holiness the concern of our Holy Community with reference to the events during the rite of the mystery of baptism of the children of a "same-sex couple", which took place in the Sacred Church of Panagia Faneromeni in Vouliagmeni.

We regret to have found, through the published photographs of the Archbishop of America, after the end of the mystery, a wrong impression was created regarding the acceptance by the Church of the mystery of marriage by individuals of the same sex, a message contrary to the doctrines and teaching of the Orthodox Church. This event, contrary to the Gospel teaching, provokes the intense concern of our Holy Community.

Therefore, Your All-Holiness, we beg you filially, that you lend a listening ear to our concern on the extremely sensitive subject, which concerns the integrity of our faith and Orthodox traditions.

Nevertheless, entrusted to Your wise judgement, we ask for Your Paternal blessings on the feasts of the Holy Twelve Days and the coming Baptism of the Lord, with filial devotion, kissing Your august Right hand with profound reverence.

The entire joint Synaxis of Representatives and Superiors of the twenty Sacred Monasteries of the Holy Mountain of Athos

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