Jelena Rakocevic (Columnist & Specialist in Eastern Orthodox Affairs) – OCP News Service – 22/8/18
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America (GOA) is going through tough times. Complicated financial situation, misunderstandings between hierarchs and critical statements from the donors – all these shows a serious crisis in the GOA. It has been reported that Patriarch Bartholomew is displeased with Archbishop Demetrios and is seeking a person to replace him. Some weeks ago, there appeared pieces in the media (both positive and negative) in which Metropolitan Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) of Bursa was claimed to become Demetrios’ successor.
According to the supporters of Elpidophoros (him becoming the Primate of the Archdiocese), he is an effective crisis manager capable of setting things straight and is capable of building a productive team to solve the crisis.
The opponents of the Metropolitan of Bursa states that he would take draconian measures to reach complete obedience, would make opposition shut up and get rid of the ideas of the GOA’s autocephaly and stick to the policy of ecumenism.
Despite all criticisms, the number of those wishing to see Met. Elpidophoros as the GOA Archbishop is on the rise. According to unofficial information from several sources, some members of the Retired Clergy Association (RCA) of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese are ready to support the Metropolitan. This organization was founded in 1988 by Fr. John Zanetos. Its objectives include: to guide and help those who are about to retire, to plan their retirement, to continue and promote fellowship of retired priests and to encourage the utilization of the retired priests’ expertise as a resource. The Association has its own Fund and participates in the GOA’s annual Clergy-Laity Congress.
According to the Association members, Met. Elpidophoros would renew the list of hierarchs, deal with fund mishandling and create an effective system of Archdioceian management. They believe that he would help the GOA return to its popularity and reputation and his leadership will also help GOA to overcome a series of internal scandals.
Although the Archdiocese received a loan for the construction of the St. Nicholas Church in New York (at the site of the church destroyed on 9/11) recently, this won’t be enough to complete the project. Besides, contractors who worked at the Ionian Village Camp Center of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese have sued the GOA by demanding for outstanding payments, the National Herald reported on August 7. Things are going bad at the Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, which is said to be on the brink of bankruptcy.
Patriarch Bartholomew has a lot of reasons to be displeased with the 90-year-old Archbishop Demetrios. The question is whether his substitute has been found. Considering the popularity Elpidophoros is gaining (intentionally or not) in the USA, he can indeed be chosen to become the primate of the GOA on September 1-3, when the Synaxis of the Hierarchy of the Throne will take place. Meanwhile, I think, we should closely watch the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese-linked organizations which could express their opinion on supporting this or that candidate.
OCP News Service