New York.- (GreekNewsOnline)
On October 8, 2020, the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate reprimanded the most senior Metropolitan of the Throne in America, Methodios of Boston, putting him on a three month suspension. Although no details of the charges were official published, Metropolitan Methodios was accused of “Tyreia” (factionalism) for discussing with the other Metropolitans – but not Archbishop Elpidophoros – a proposal by the Patriarchal strongman in America, Fr. Alex Karloutsos, for a mandatory retirement age on Metropolitans and other clergy. Holy Canons don’t require such a provision.
The proposal was included in a letter sent by Fr. Karloutsos to the Chairman of the Administrative Committee, ahead of the virtual Clergy Laity Congress, in violation of the Archdiocessan rules for the amendment of the Charter. Less than a month following the virtual Clergy Congress, the Holy Synod in addition to giving a three month suspension to Methodios, removed Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey and suspended the Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. A process to approve a new Charter will take place in 2021.
The Eparchial Synod approved the process and most of its members fear – after what happened to Methodios and Evangelos – they will be removed from their duties if they go against the will of the Ecumenical Patriarch.
The Charter of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese was approved in 2003. The Archdiocese gave up much of the independence of its parishes in exchange of granting to the Metropolitans a strange Eparchial status that would have made sense only if the Archdiocese of America had a semi-autonomy similar to the Church of Crete. The Patriarch had promised to respect the “Triprosopon” (three-person ballot) decided by the Eparchial Synod in the election of the U.S. Bishops and a specific process in the election of the Archbishop of America, giving advisory role to the Archdiocesan Leadership. Both provisions were violated. The first in the election of Metropolitan Nathaniel of Chicago (he was second on the list) and the other with the election of Elpidophoros, when no chance was give to GOA to consult with the Fanar.
The elevation to the Bishops of GOA to Metropolitans was a promise given to them by Bartholomew, as a precaution to stay calm and accept the post-Iakovos status quo. It was solidified much more during Archbishop Spyridon’s era, in the battle to remove him when he turned against the status quo of Karloutsos. It was indeed under the instruction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that the Metropolitans co-signed a letter against Spyridon, a move much worse than the recent innocent tele-conference of the Metropolitans that led to Methodios’ punishment.
A SMOKING GUN
Since Archbishop Elpidophoros took office there is a persistent push by “National Herald” (an ally of Karloutsos in the three ecclesiastical wars of the last 25 years) to change once more the Charter and return GOA to its previous status of a Metropolis, with assistant Bishops to assist the Archbishop. The suspension of the Charter by the Ecumenical Patriarchate offers a legal opening to the Fanar to return to the old status. But it leaves a huge question unanswered: What about the Holy Canons, according to which “only after a Bishop deceases the borders of his Metropolis may change?” Of course the Patriarchate may always remove the Metropolitans by electing them to non-existing eparchies of Asia Minor and beyond. A canonically questionable, but still effective method.
Recently, from a video sent to many recipients from an account called “Voithia 2020” (Voithia was the organization that fought Archbishop Spyridon) we learned that it was the Archons who lobbied the idea of the elimination of the Metropolises, to the Ecumenical Patriarch. The video was taking from the annual Archons Luncheon, held virtually on December 12, where Father Alex Karloutsos reveals a discussion that took place during a meeting of the Archons with Bartholomew, in November 2019, in Brussels. The email was entitled “Stand Up and Demand Answer Before It’s Too Late”.
In the December 12 virtual luncheon Fr. Karloutsos speaks to the Archons about the unity of the Church, the one voice of one Archdiocese…not a “Federation of Metropolises” but one Archdiocese.
In the 4-minute clip, Fr. Karloutsos is speaking to the Archons and states that:
“We need to have one Archdiocese, everybody working together. That there should not be a ‘Federation of Metropolises’, but a wholeness in the Church. And I believe that’s what the new Charter is going to do”.
Dr. Anthony Limberakis – the Archons Commander – and Fr. Alexander Karloutsos – the Archons spiritual advisor – shared the following conversation that took place at a private breakfast meeting between the Ecumenical Patriarch and some key Archon leaders from the United States, during the Patriarchal Pilgrimage to Belgium last year, sharing “the hopes and aspirations for the Church in America”.
Karloutsos: “Well not only the Archons, but the Archon wives, the women spoke up very strongly and the concern was about the “The Future of Orthodoxy in America”……But I do remember that the one element that played out very strong was the unity of the Church, the one voice of one Archdiocese. Not a “Federation of Metropolises”, but one Archdiocese. And I do believe that that meeting put into the Ecumenical Patriarch’s mind…the fact of having a new Charter… Most people don’t know that the last Charter was not at the request of the Ecumenical Patriarch. That was initiated by Archbishop Demetrios…….So what I believe that what the Archons brought forth at the breakfast meeting with the Patriarch is that we need to have one Archdiocese, everybody working together. That there should not be a “”Federation of Metropolises” but a wholeness in the Church. And I believe that’s what the new Charter is going to do, and I believe that the seeds for that conversation for the changing of the Charter came actually from that order. It was an interesting breakfast meeting…..But I do believe Anthony (Limberakis) that your voice, the voice of John Catsimatidis, and Peter Skeadas, Judge Bozonelis and the others present… ..And I do think that it was very important for the Patriarch to understand that the oneness of the Church in America has to be the oneness. And he was very concerned about the disunity and the voice of the Archons calling for unity. So I commend the Archon leadership for raising that with the Ecumenical Patriarch. That was very powerful. Thank you!”
An Archon whom “Greek News” asked for a comment described the video as “a smoking machine gun”.
The “Archons” reporter the Brussels breakfast as following:
“On Monday, November 11, the Order, led by National Commander Limberakis, hosted a private breakfast in honor of His All-Holiness, in which each delegate was given time to address His All-Holiness on issues of concern for the Archdiocese of America and the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The delegates engaged in candid and frank discussions with His All-Holiness on various important and pertinent matters, and all expressed their gratitude to His All-Holiness for the election and enthronement of Archbishop Elpidophoros. His All-Holiness listened intently and made remarks as each delegate spoke of their concerns. His All-Holiness commented upon and clearly recognized the importance of the issues.”