[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] Archbishop Elpidophoros Proposes Separation of Church and State in Greece - Orthodox Christian Laity

Archbishop Elpidophoros Proposes Separation of Church and State in Greece


Source: The National Herald

By Theodore Kalmoukos

Archbishop Elpidophoros of America welcomes Secretary General of the Communist Party of Greece Dimitris Koutsoumpas to the Archdiocese. Shown is newly-ordained Bishop Nektarios of Diokleia and members of Koutsoumbas’ entourage. Photo: GOA

BOSTON – During the visit of Dimitris Koutsoumpas, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Greece, on Friday, April 26, at the Archdiocese in New York Archbishop Elpidophoros of America proposed the separation of Church and State in Greece.

Specifically, Elpidophoros said the following: “I believe that the secret of the success of our Archdiocese – I consider the Archdiocese of America to be one of the ecclesiastically successful Eparchies of the Ecumenical Throne – is due to the participation of the lay people essentially in decision-making and in all organs of administrative and financial control. These are useful because they do not follow the usual path that the laity are simply faithful who blindly obey the commands of the ecclesiastical leadership, but they have an active role and are represented in all governing bodies [of the Church], clergy and the laity. These are two elements that I would like to share with you. Perhaps they are useful to you for our homeland Greece because there is a general fear in Greece of what will happen if the Church is separated from the State. I don’t know if this will be decided in Greece – this is a matter for Greece and the Church of Greece and the Greek State. We just have an ecclesiastical experience here which we present and may prove useful.”

Earlier, the Archbishop told Koutsoumpas that “two elements concerning our Church in America could prove useful for Greece, for our homeland, and perhaps the positions of the Communist Party possibly. I cannot say that I know everything, to tell the truth, but two elements could offer ecclesiastical experience for Greece are, firstly, that here the Archdiocese develops and progresses in a country where there is a complete separation of Church and State. It is an experience that could prove useful; it is evidence that Church and State could be separated and yet not affect the progress and prosperity of the Church.”

The Secretary General of the Communist Party of Greece Dimitris Koutsoumpas gives Archbishop Elpidophoros a work by the significant communist artist Vaso Katraki. Photo: GOA

The Archbishop added that “the second thing that is very important is the organization of the Archdiocese. Here the Archdiocese does not have parishes in the sense and structure that exist in Greece. Here it has communities in which the laity has absolute participation, voting rights, and decides on administration and financial management at all levels of ecclesiastical organization from the local community, the parish as we say in Greece, to the Archdiocese, so there is a body of laymen and women. We also have our Eparchial Synod here and the participation of the people is not decorative, it is substantial. [Lay participation is through] election procedures and not appointment and nomination, so these two experiences could be useful for our homeland.”

It is emphasized that Archbishop Elpidophoros welcomed with joy and enthusiasm the Leader of the Communist Party, with words of kindness and friendly familiarity, saying the following: “For us, your visit, Mr. Secretary-General, is very important because every political leader who comes from our homeland gives us great joy and especially you know that we as Church and as Christian Faith share so many common things with the Left in general. Sensitivities for equality and human rights, for justice, peace, [beliefs about]injustice in the world, poverty, and all these are a common denominator on which I think we find ground to cooperate and support each other.”

The Archbishop emphasized that “the Greek-American Community is always on the side of the Homeland. It has special sensitivities whenever our homeland [is in need], whether it is in good times or in difficult times. Whether it is in struggles for national issues or for support in humanitarian and social issues, the Greek-American Community, the Archdiocese always with great joy assist and contribute to the needs of the Homeland, Greece. With special feelings of joy, we welcome you to our Holy Archdiocese and wish you success for the purpose of your visit.”

Archbishop Elpidophoros offers the commemorative book on the centenary of the Archdiocese to Dimitris Koutsoumpas. Photo: GOA

When the discussion turned to Greek-Language Education, Archbishop Elpidophoros said the following: “There was a tendency for schools to close mainly due to economic issues, but it is not acceptable in America for schools to close due to economic issues when it comes to schools and education. Here Greek Education was placed at a lower priority and for that reason, I committed and until now by the grace of

God during my days, no school has closed, several have opened and some were in danger of closing, but with great sacrifice they took the right path.”

Archbishop Elpidophoros bids farewell to the Secretary General of the Communist Party of Greece Dimitris Koutsoumpas, wishing him very success to his visit in America. Photo GOA

At the end of the meeting, Koutsoumpas presented to Archbishop Elpidophoros with a work of the significant communist artist Vaso Katraki, while the Archbishop presented him with a commemorative album marking last year’s centenary of the Archdiocese.



  1. Cato the Elder on

    Ted Kalmoukos quotes the Archbishop as referring to the: “The ‘success’ of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America” in his meetings with the head of the Communist Party of Greece.

    By what measure is this “success” measured?

    What are the comparative numbers from: 1950 (’60; ’70; ’80; ’90; ’00; ’10; ’20 and today regarding:

    Attendance at Sunday services? Weddings? Baptisms? Funerals? Accreditation and fiscal status of Hellenic College/Holy Cross?

    Not to be a picker of nits, but when will the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of America begin referring to America as his “homeland”?

    Perhaps only when the Sultan in Istanbul revokes his Turkish passport and denies him re-entry to Turkey?

    But I digress..

    • The GOA is in a state of terminal decline. Statically, this is an indisputable fact. Elpi, as many Greek Americans do, refer to the Greek American success story. The success of the church, the Body of Christ, should not be conflated with Greek American identity. They are distinctly different.

  2. Jupiter's Son on

    What business is it of the Archbishop of America to be opining on church-state relations in Greece? Of course, I’m not all that surprised given how much time Elpidophoros spends traveling back and forth to Greece. Still, this is a matter for the Archbishop of Athens. not Elpidophoros, to address. As for the Archbishop’s sucking up to a Communist Party leader with the remark that the church “shares[s] so many common things with the Left in general,” that is stupefying because it reveals such appalling ignorance of history. What a disgrace.

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