Source: The National Herald
Efforts Behind the Scenes Regarding Choice of Next Archbishop Intensify
CONSTANTINOPLE – Metropolitan Elpidoforos of Bursa, Abbot of the Holy Trinity Patriarchal Monastery on the island of Chalki, is making efforts to succeed Demetrios as the future Archbishop of America, sources in Constantinople, Athens, and New York told TNH.
But Archbishop Demetrios told TNH that he has not resigned and has no intention of doing so. “No, absolutely not,” the archbishop said, calling the information “mendacity” and “fable.”
But does he intend to resign soon? Again, Demetrios responded: “I want you to know that there is a big ‘no’ to everything that relates to resignation. As long as I am alive and I am in this [healthy]condition, God gives me health and strength and I work. There is no intention for resignation.” The Archbishop added that “these issues are up to God’s will and not man’s.”
His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew recently approached Metropolitan Methodios of Boston to see if he wanted to become Archbishop of America, but the latter declined, invoking reasons of health.
That was the second time that Methodios has declined the Patriarch’s offer. The first time was in August 1999, before the Patriarchate settled on Demetrios. At that time, Bartholomew had invited Metropolitan Methodios to Constantinople and offered him the Archbishopric Throne, to which Methodios declined also then for health reasons.
TNH has learned there were other reasons for Methodios’ declining the offer, related to the composition of the Holy Eparchial Synod in American at the time.
Sources told TNH that Metropolitan Methodios told Metropolitan Elpidoforos that the hierarchs in America want the latter to be the next Archbishop, and Metropolitan Elpidoforos conveyed that to Patriarch Bartholomew, whose initial reaction reportedly was “will see”, but then said “if you think that you can do it, proceed.”
Elpidoforos asked Hierarchs to support his candidacy, while also campaigning with high-ranking members of the Greek government, powerful publishers, Archons, and benefactors of the Patriarchate in Greece.
It should be noted here that Patriarch Bartholomew’s words do not amount to a conclusive decision, but rather an attempt to test Elpidoforos’ candidacy.
Elpidoforos has promised Bartholomew that he will solve the Patriarchate’s economic problems once and for all. The hierarchs, priests, and general employees, for instance, have not been paid for three months now.
Well-respected Greek-Americans, who choose to remain anonymous, told TNH that Elpidoforos would be a risk, drawing parallels to Demetrios’ predecessor, Archbishop Spyridon.[subscribe2]
Behind the scenes actions on the part of individuals seeking the office of Archbishop are unacceptable. They are also unholy and contrary to the order of selection of an archbishop. Are we offering the office to the highest bidder? The office seeks the man because he is worthy….not because he has been given ad signal or is acceptable to the Greek government. The next archbishop in the USA needs to be born here or served here for many years. He needs to experienced growing with us. He needs to know what are our needs as spiritual people living in our specific geographic area. He needs to know how to work within a secular, pluralistic society. He needs to have leadership, administrative and human relations skills. There are worthy auxiliary bishops like Antonios and Sevastianos. Within the synod we have Metropolitan Gerasimos , Savas, and Alexios. If this pool is not sufficient the office should be opened up to widowed and even married priests who have the administrative experience to lead. Most importantly he must be an individual who understands the present uncaonical diary of the Orthodox Church in the USA and can lead us toward administrative unity and autocephaly.