[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] Clergy and Laity of Chicago Oppose Archbishop’s Charter Proposals - Orthodox Christian Laity

Clergy and Laity of Chicago Oppose Archbishop’s Charter Proposals


Source: The National Herald

By Theodore Kalmoukos

A commemorative photo Metropolitan Nathanael and the clergy of the Metropolis of Chicago at the meeting with Archbishop Elpidophoros regarding the Charter.

BOSTON – The clergy and laity of the Metropolis of Chicago expressed their opposition to the Charter proposed and distributed by Archbishop Elpidophoros in person during their recent meeting on Friday, July 7, 2023. He called the meeting to express his thoughts on a new Charter for the Archdiocese of America, referring to them as “his personal” points of view, as he characteristically said.

Specifically, at the meeting that took place at the Saints Peter and Paul parish in Chicago, there were about seventy priests from the communities of all the states that comprise the Metropolis. Reportedly, none of the clergy present agreed with what was proposed by Elpidophoros, who repeated what he has said in the past about transparency, the transformation of Metropolises into Districts, better coordination of ministries, and the like.

After some questions put to him by the priests, and in order to avoid further exchanges that day, they told him that “our Clergy Association will send a letter to the Holy Eparchial Synod, to which our opinions and observations will be submitted in writing about all that we hear and see, and also about the [material]posted on the special web page that has been created on the website of the Archdiocese.”

The National Herald reveals that contrary to Church protocol, he was not received at the airport by the local Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago, the chancellor, and a group of priests, but by Eleni Bousis, mother of Evangelos Bousis, who is the husband of fashion designer Peter Dundas, who married him and reside in California. It is recalled that Elpidophoros performed the baptism of their children a year ago in Glyfada, which put the Church of Greece in a difficult position and threatened its relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, but in the end, the matter was covered up.

The staff of Elpidophoros at the Archdiocese reportedly did not answer the repeated phone calls of the Metropolis of Chicago and did not give information about his arrival, so that the Metropolitan could go with priests to welcome him. It was leaked that he was expected to arrive on Friday, but he arrived the day before, Thursday, July 6, and was picked up from the airport by Bousis.

Elpidophoros has commissioned retired and veteran priests of the Archdiocese to record speeches supporting the amendment of the Charter. In fact, one of them, Fr. Athanasios Demos from New York, served for a number of years as chancellor of the Metropolis of Boston.

At the beginning of the meeting in Chicago, Archbishop Elpidophoros had commissioned Archimandrite Bartholomew Mercado, Dean of Students and professor of Canon Law, to make an introduction, as a kind of historical review of the charters of the Archdiocese.

It is emphasized that all the priests appeared at the meeting wearing a ‘rason and kalimavki’ – the traditional Orthodox black robe and stovepipe hat. Elpidophoros, as is well known, has imposed on New York priests and workers within the Archdiocese a rule not to wear a ‘rason’, nor a cassock – the so-called inner rason, nor a kalimavki, but they are to walk around in a suit and collar.

An example is the Chancellor of the Archdiocese, Archimandrite Fr. Nektarios Papazafeiropoulos, and his closest senior advisor, who resides in the Archdiocesan headquarters building, Archimandrite Vasilios Drossos. He walks around in a suit and tie, as evidenced by numerous photographs, making many clerics, but also people of the parishes, wonder.

At the dinner that Elpidophoros had with about eighty laymen from the Metropolitan Council, members of the Archons, and of Leadership 100 residing in Chicago, and in the discussion that followed, the atmosphere was more difficult and negative than with the priests. The essence of the meeting is summed up by the fact that the laypeople put him on the spot, saying that the problems he mentioned in his introduction are New York problems, not problems that were created in the metropolises. One of them was John Marks, whose family and he himself have provided long-term services to the Church and the Community and have contributed morally and financially to the work of the Church. His late mother was president of Philoptochos during the Archiepiscopate of Iakovos.

The laity even advised him to sit down and talk with the metropolitans of the Eparchial Synod and for the Synod to propose solutions, as they told him that what he is proposing will not bring good to the Church of America.

Several lay people who contacted The National Herald said that they did not understand why Elpidophoros called them, while the widespread impression was that by traveling around America and saying that what he says are his personal suggestions, he is causing confusion and division in the Church and the Greek-American community. It is emphasized here that the Chicago Metropolis Council will also write a letter to the Holy Eparchial Synod.

Several laymen remarked to The National Herald that “our message was clear that these practices of his are not acceptable in America,” while they expressed their gratitude to TNH for publishing the secret report revealing the meeting of the Hierarchs of America with the Patriarch. Many people ask for more information about his advisers here and in Greece, specifically where and how they are paid.



  1. Cato the Elder on

    Another hit job by Kalmoukos (Chief Diasporist of Astoria) against the Archbishop, but interesting in some of the gossip leaked to him by “sources” among the clergy and laity from Chicago.

    First, the tidbit about his early, unannounced arrival and who picked him up from the airport. Worthy of a supermarket tabloid.. but what else is TNH?

    Then the uniform appearance of the clergy ordered by the Metropolitan as a poke in the eye of the Archbishop (and the Vicar General of the Archdiocese) who prefer priests appearing in public in suits and collars, rather than mimicking Ayatollahs.

    [An aside: Did all this start with Archbishop Spyridon who thought the GOA had become too “Protestant” with organs, mixed choirs, pews, clergy in suits and collars and widespread use of English in Liturgies?]

    What relevant information did we learn from this article in The National Herald? Do we know what the Archbishop wants from a new Charter? Do we know what the Metropolitan can convince his clergy to ask for in their “written letter”… conspicuously directing their response to the Archbishop’s views to the Synod rather than the Archbishop? We learned nothing but some gossip and leaks.

    We know what we knew before:

    The Archbishop wants more power and control over the Archdiocese which can only come at the expense of the Metropolitans. The Metropolitans want to keep and even build up what they have. The Archbishop is not satisfied with the title of “Presiding Hierarch of the Direct Archdiocesan District” with a territory of New York, part of Connecticut, the District of Columbia, and the Bahamas.

    The Metropolitans, collectively, have the rest of the US as their territories. The Metropolitan of the Metropolis of San Francisco, for example, has all of California, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon and Washington State! The other Metropolitans have similarly large territories.

    Any new charter that creates new “Districts” or “Dioceses” or expands the number of Hierarchs in the Eparchial Synod will do nothing to reduce the duplication of services or strengthen the unity of the Archdiocese. The Archbishop is only interested in increasing his power at the expense of the Metropolitans.

    Is there a canon somewhere that requires the Archbishop to get the permission of a Metropolitan before he comes into his Metropolis? How insulting! Ask the former Metropolitan of New Jersey! what happens when you rely on that canon.

    The sad reality is that the clergy and laity have no voice in any of this. The parishes have no voice. The Metropolis Assemblies and Clergy-Laity Congress are staged, pre-scripted parodies of clergy and lay “input”.

    The Archbishop and Metropolitans court the attention and money of the wealthy in separate meetings and dinners expecting that whoever can attract most of them will convince the Patriarch which side he should come down on.

    As long as the laity and clergy acquiesce to a system where the Charter of the Archdiocese is a “gift” from the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul, which he can issue, suspend, reimpose or amend in his sole discretion, none of this matters.

    At some point, will the bishops in the Assembly of Bishops finally realize that they should come together and bring the Church in America into canonical order? Will they free themselves from foreign synods and put their own interests second to the interests of the people they are supposed to be serving?

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