New York.- By Apostolos Zoupaniotis
The Archdiocese of America approaches its first centennial anniversary full of surprises; things that may not be canonical but there are unique and extraordinary.
On October 8 the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate decided “to place into abeyance the force of the Charter of the Holy Archdiocese of America, with the objective of constituting a joint Committee of representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Archdiocese for the composition of a new Charter.”
It also decided “to place His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston under a penance of suspension until the Feast of Christmas, on account that he had fallen into canonical transgressions.”
And finally “it transferred His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey to the Holy Metropolis of Sardes and appointed as Patriarchal Vicar in the vacant Eparchy of New Jersey, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.”
THE EPARCHIAL SYNOD
On Monday, October 12, 2020, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America convened the Holy Eparchial Synod via videoconference for an extraordinary session to consider the current issues concerning the life of the Church, we read in the official communiqué. What we don’t read is that among the participants was Metropolitan Methodios of Boston, regardless his suspension, He received the same official invitation with the other Metropolitans, members of the Eparchial Synod. Whether “an honest mistake” or a calculated move to defuse the situation, bypassing the Holy Synods interventions, it’s not clear to say. But no Hierarch in suspension takes part in an ecclesiastical body.
The discussion was friendly, most on how to form the committees on the charter revision and how to make sure that Evangelos will be ensured “a dignified life”.
The second surprise is that the Eparchial Synod validates the statements made by the Archbishop that “Temporarily, until the issuance of the new Charter, the administrative structures of the Archdiocese, i.e., the Holy Eparchial Synod, the Executive Committee, the Archdiocesan Council, the Clergy-Laity Assembly, as well as the respective structures of the Metropolises will continue to function as they are.”
Such a validation could only come from the Fanar that suspended the charter.
No member of the Synod questioned the punishments, the absence of the ability to the “condemned” to defend themselves; no one also questioned the reason the decision on the charter came less than a month after the Clergy Laity Congress, without any consultation with the members of the local Synod. It is clear than the severity of the punishments most likely will safeguard that Elpidophoros will govern unopposed.
The communiqué says that significant decisions were made, such as:
“a) The expression of gratitude to His All Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and the Holy and Sacred Synod of the venerable center of Orthodoxy for the opportunity provided to the Archdiocese of America to draft a new Charter. This distinguished prospect is made even more profound in light of the celebration in the year 2022 of the first centennial since the inception of the Archdiocese. The compilation of the new Charter, with the collaboration of the Hierarchy, the clergy and the laity of the Church, will inaugurate the new centennial of Archdiocesan ministry, and for this reason two Committees will be commissioned with this great and sacred task: 1) An extensive committee in America, composed of representatives of the Holy Eparchial Synod, the clergy and the laity and 2) a second committee, assigned to participate in the Joint Committee that will be devised by our Mother Church, in order to convey and communicate the essence and the ideas of the former committee.
b) The validation of the Press Release of the Holy Archdiocese regarding the uninterrupted authority and continuous operation of all the Archdiocesan administrative bodies until the ratification and publication of the new Charter by the Patriarchate such as the Holy Eparchial Synod, the Archdiocesan Council, the Executive Committee, the Clergy Laity Congress and the respective administrative bodies of the Metropolises.
c) The dedication of upcoming meetings of the Archdiocesan Council to the formulation of the vision for the new Charter.
d) To ensure a dignified life with sufficient earnings, befitting to his hierarchal distinction and to the tradition of the Church, for His Eminence the Metropolitan Evangelos of Sardes, who has served the Archdiocese for many decades.
Lastly, the Archbishop announced the a) composition of the Executive Committee and the National Board of the National Philoptochos Society, b) the appointment of the V. Rev. Archimandrite Constantine Moralis as the Chancellor of the Holy Metropolis of New Jersey and the appointment of the Metropolitan Council of the aforementioned Metropolis and c) the dates for the ordinations to the Sacred Hierarchy of the Bishops-elect: His Grace Spyridon (Kezios) of Amastris on November 14th, His Grace Timothy (Bakakos) of Hexamilion on December 5th and His Grace Ioannis (Constantine) of Phocaea on December 19th of this year.”
ELPIDOPHOROS – EVANGELOS
The final surprise came on Wednesday, when Archbishop Elpidophoros received Metropolitan Evangelos of Sardes “and congratulated him on his election to this historic Metropolis of the All-Venerable Ecumenical Throne”.
The statement issued by the press office says that during their fraternal and cordial meeting, the two hierarchs discussed the practical issues of transmission and reception of the Holy Metropolis of New Jersey, and the Archbishop had the opportunity to announce to his esteemed guest the conclusions of the Holy Eparchial Synod on his future presence and activity in America.
There was an agreement of views on all the issues discussed and in conclusion, the Archbishop invited the Metropolitan of Sardes to preside at the Divine Liturgy next Sunday, October 18th, at the Saint Demetrios Cathedral in Astoria, New York, where the same hierarch served as presiding priest for a number of years, demonstrating labors and pastoral work worthy of emulation.”
But Evangelos didn’t appear in Astoria on Sunday. No explanation is offered so far.
On Friday, October 9, the Chancellor and the Legal Advisor of the Archdiocese changed the locks of the Metropolis of New Jersey headquarters. Metropolitan Evangelos was one of the strongest supporters of the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew and some were considering him as the successor of Archbishop Demetrios.
Regarding his future, considering his past involvement with the Patriarchal Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou, think that within the next year he will be appointed abbot.