Source: The National Herald
BOSTON – Despo Lialiou of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki was the professor of Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, the current Archbishop of America, who marked and influenced his life and career for many years. To her, he owes his academic advancement, as well as his broader career, but as it turns out, Professor Lialiou did not know him thoroughly. Now that she has come to know him better, she has begun speaking. Excerpts from her interview with the Greek Edition of The National Herald follow:
The National Herald: Mrs. Lialiou, I thank you for agreeing to speak to The National Herald.
Despo Lialiou: I thank you as well, Mr. Kalmoukos, for giving me the opportunity to speak.
TNH: Naturally, in this first discussion, I am interested in the matters of our Church in America. You will agree, however, that the situation here affects the broader mission of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
DL: You are right. This is the major issue, given that the Greek Archdiocese in the USA is the major eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
TNH: How do you feel about one of your students, Elpidophoros Lambriniadis, becoming Archbishop of America?
DL: This question is raised in a contemporary context. I would have answered you differently almost four years ago! I remain with a sense of overall concern and an excessive disquietude, which explains the element of anxiousness for what may follow, to say the least.
TNH: After almost four years and given all he is undertaking, do you think he is fit to be Archbishop of America? Do you not think that the entourage he brought with him to America, some of whom have probably been your students, is a problem?
DL: Mr. Kalmoukos, your questions are literally tempestuous. To answer your question, I would have to delegate myself to write a whole chapter for my memoirs. I am following, like everyone else here in Greece, the events in your Church. What can I say? I remain aghast and also feel ashamed. I am aware that many hold me somehow responsible for his and his entourage’s doings, as you say, not only here in Greece but also in America. There are also many who think alike in Thessaloniki, at the Patriarchate, and beyond. In no way will I hide myself. I did not see the Archbishop in person after his election, nor was I invited by him to his enthronement. Subsequently, at an unexpected time, as his enthronement was approaching, I received a call from a travel agency, informing me that if I wanted to go to the enthronement, I only had to send a photocopy of my passport, without any other information. When I phoned Mr. Stamkopoulos, he told me that he had already gotten a ticket and would be staying in the USA for five days. So, I told him that I would get on the same flight. It was an opportunity for me to travel, either alone or together, to Boston to see the Library of Hellenic College/Holy Cross and pay a visit to Fathers Dragas and Clapsis. At one point, however, Mr. Stamkopoulos conveyed to me by telephone the Archbishop’s order: that he forbids me to go to Boston. And because when I took this call, I was with a large party, they heard what I shouted in exasperation: “Let them all go and drown themselves in Long Island.” Anyway, I pretended not to understand. I was informed by people, the whole world, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry who went to the enthronement, that the Archbishop said I didn’t go because I was afraid of airplanes! And he thinks he succeeded and got past his lie: “she is afraid of airplanes…”. Combining a variety of occurrences, I realized that his lies span a period of about 20 years, almost since receiving his doctorate in 2001.
TNH: In your opinion, what can the Church and the Greek American Community expect from him?
DL: Mr. Kalmoukos, you wrote that he is an “unadvisable” person. I would say that any opinion is superfluous, including mine, therefore.
TNH: How far did you go in supporting him?
DL: With all my heart and with all my mind, as with all of them – a little more with him, because he had a difficult early life and childhood; he was ‘wounded’.
TNH: What happened with the writing of his dissertation and his books? Who else contributed to writing them?
DL: As you said, I have been a faculty advisor to many doctoral and postgraduate students. I corrected all the PhDs and MAs. I have thoroughly corrected the dissertations of others who are also faculty members in all the theological schools. The problem with this Hierarch of America is that he didn’t go back over the corrections to understand what was corrected in order to further educate himself. In any case, no one is to blame if the archpriestly vestment (sakkos) of the Archbishop of America has remained empty. It is his personal responsibility and his responsibility alone. He was given ample opportunities to educate himself so that he would acquire a basic self-knowledge about what he is doing and saying. [He could have educated himself] in Germany, the Patriarchal Library, Halki, Thessaloniki. [He could have looked in my] electronic archive, as well as the electronic archives of other colleagues. He has learned nothing from our Patriarch, who, when speaking extemporaneously, is far better than when reading prepared texts, as is natural.
TNH: How did he persuade you to promote him? Were you not aware whom you were dealing with?
DL: I was analytical in my answers to your first questions in order to make clear how I think. It was not only Mr. Elpidophoros that ‘was promoted’. I don’t wish to count now how many faculty members of both departments of our Faculty of Theology of Athens University as well, were assisted and under what conditions. Yes, this Hierarch of America was helped the most because I felt sorry for his father too, who continuously was calling me in agony. If Mr. Elpidophoros came out illiterate and presumptuous at the same time, as I read [in the newspapers], I will say again, it is his responsibility, as well as his responsibility, that he did not enrich his theological and ecclesiastical training (17 years inside the Phanar!) and he exposes his position with his incredible improvisations of uneducated speech and his foolish acts and his actions of a blithe sensationalism, all of which are not based on anything. He is better off not speaking and not doing anything.
TNH: Do you regret having helped him?
DL: I have already assumed my own responsibilities with what I have said so far.
TNH: Would you like to comment: a) on the proposed threefold Hierarchical Commemoration (Patriarch-Archbishop-Local Metropolitan) in the Divine Liturgy and in other services, and b) on the dethronement of Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey and the Holy Synod’s decision to suspend Methodios of Boston from his Archpastoral ministry for three months?
DL: This phenomenon was experienced by you in America, which left us aghast, and was afterwards proved to have been a plot of Mr. Elpidophoros, that is, a lie with deceit. Two Metropolitans were denounced directly to the Synod of the Patriarchate, which is Endemousa (Sojourning everywhere in the Ecumene), without any apology even until now. One of them, the Metropolitan of New Jersey, was literally decapitated (I learned that they even threw him a party at the Archdiocese – aren’t they ashamed of themselves – as one who just received a higher position even than Mr. Elpidophoros in the Order of Seniority of the Ecumenical Throne). [He was removed] because that was what the Archbishop had planned to do, before his arrival there – to snatch the Metropolis from him. In any case, he would have found an accusation to justify it, because ‘the donkey’ too, according to the Greek legend, ‘ate the lettuce without vinegar’. The Metropolitan of Boston, the second-ranking Metropolitan of the Eparchial Synod, was punished, if I am not mistaken, also without apology.
TNH: You are drawing a vivid picture…of an immature person…
DL: “Here I come, I the childlike one,” [Archbishop Elpidophoros] “and I spread terror, and want everything under my ignorant control, and terrorize bishops and priests,” and “I do not have to think about the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Patriarchate which is Endemousa, or the Primatial Patriarchate” – which is the Patriarchate of the [whole Orthodox world]. The 6th canon of the Second Ecumenical Council that needs to be applied here concerning the correction, the punishment after the disclosure of the plot [to expand his power]. Indeed, this canon was probably drawn up to put a brake on false accusations, especially regarding the highest organ of ecclesiastical authority, for that is how the Endemousa Synod works after 382 AD, and therefore, it suggests the same punishment – removal from office. That is, of course, an adoption of Roman Law. Essentially, borrowing from the democratic functioning of Greek cities was the antidote.
TNH: When was the last time he contacted you?
DL: That time he wanted to use me as an ornament, but let me explain. It was last year, about this time, when he had to come, for something – I don’t know what – here to Thessaloniki. Incredible events unfolded [there was a reported terrorist threat during the visit]a situation [that was exaggerated]. I was invited because my presence would ‘cover’ [and justify]the transatlantic extravaganza and all the goods and ‘honors’ [that were involved]. I don’t know how the Patriarch, seeing these pictures, didn’t give him a ‘slap across the face’.
Despo Lialiou – Personal data:
Born in Namata, Voiou, Kozani (1950).
1968: Graduation from the Lyceum of Eratyra, Kozani;
1968-1972: Degree in Philosophy, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki; employment at the Folklore Museum and Archive under Dr. Alki Kyriakidou-Nestoros
1972-1975: Degree in Theology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
1975-1977: Postgraduate studies at the Theological Faculty of Aristotle University
1978-1981, Scholarship of the IKY, St. Andrews University Scotland (PhD)
1985: PhD in Theology, Department of Pastoral Studies, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
1988-1990: Postdoctoral studies at the Evagelische Fakültät Tübingen (Germany)
1972-1990: Professor of Literature in Secondary Education
1992: Assistant Professor
1997: Associate Professor
Instruction: Taught the course on Interpretation of Doctrinal and Symbolic Texts at undergraduate and graduate level, which she organized. From time to time, she taught History of Philosophy, Symbolic and Ecumenical Movement, Dogmatics and History of Doctrine. From 2004 to 2010, she co-taught, in collaboration, the course Applications of Information Technology in Theology and in collaboration, the course Theology, Science and Environment.
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
2005-2007 & 2007-2009: Vice Rector of the School
1999-2001: Director of the Department of History, Doctrine, Inter-Orthodox and Inter-Christian Relations
2003-2010: Director of the Postgraduate Program of the School
2005-2012: Director of the Scientific Yearbook of the School
2016-2017: Director of the Department of History, Doctrine, Inter-Orthodox and Inter-Christian Relations
2004-2010: Director of the Department of Worship, Archaeology and Art
2005-2010: School Representative to the Research Committee
2005-2017: Scientific Head of the Research Thematic Network of the KEEP, which has organized seventeen scientific workshops-conferences
2003-2006, 2008-2010: Member of the Supervisory Committee of the Central Library of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
2004-2012 Organization and Management of the Computer Lab of the School
1991-1997/2003-2010: Οrganization of the first European student exchange programs of the School SOCRATES/ERASMUS
1994-1997: Establishment and coordination of the project Organization of the Library of the Faculty of Theology under the Dean Professor Nikos Matsoukas, through which the Library of the Faculty of Theology was organized in its present form, as reflected in the six Reports of Activities, as well as the Department of Palaitypa-Antiquarian books.
2012 Final presenter of the School’s New Undergraduate Programs, the English-language Undergraduate and Postgraduate Programs, and the research structures that came out of the thematic Network for Textual and Interpretive Church Tradition KEEP (Centre of St. Demetrius and St. Gregory Palamas and the Centre of Apostle Paul).
2010 – 2014 Vice Chancellor-elect for Academic Affairs and Personnel – Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Personnel
2012 (May) President of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki by decision of the Senate. During her term of office the School gained administrative autonomy and elected its first President.
2010-2014 Vice Rector of Academic Affairs and Personnel- President of the Quality Assurance Unit. All the reports of office as Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Personnel and as President of the Quality Assurance Unit (MO.DI.P.) are available on the website of the MO.DI.P. of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki: https://qa.auth.gr/el/node/5533
Studies – Research:
‘Greek Philosophy and Christian Tradition in St. Gregory of Nazianzus: Unity – Triplicity’ (Doctoral dissertation), St. Andrews University (U.K.), 1981, pp. 289.
‘The Interpretation of the Holy Scriptures in the Theology of St. Gregory of Theologian’ (Doctoral dissertation), Athens 1985, p. 204.
‘Interpretation of the Doctrinal and Symbolic Texts of the Orthodox Church’, vol. A΄.
‘Interpretation of the Ecumenical Symbols and the related canons’ (Theological analysis with references to the sources), Thessaloniki 1992, p. 175 (with the Appendix of the texts, p. 205). Kyriakidis, Thessaloniki 2017.
‘Interpretation of the Doctrinal and Symbolic Texts of the Orthodox Church’, vol. B, Interpretation of the Exposition of the Disputations, of the B and C Epistles of St. Cyril to Nestorius and of the related canons of the Third Ecumenical Synod, Thessaloniki 1994, p. 375 (with the Appendix of the texts, p. 404).
‘Gregoriana A’ (Philosophical and Theological Library 35), Thessaloniki 1997, p. 328.
‘Gregoriana B’, and ‘Symmikta’ (Philosophical and Theological Library 36), Thessaloniki 1998, p. 489.
‘Interpretation of the Doctrinal and Symbolic Texts of the Orthodox Church’, vol. C´, Interpretation of the Memoranda of St. ‘Cyril of Alexandria’ (Philosophical and Theological Library 44), Thessaloniki 2000, p. 478 (after the Appendix of texts p. 520). Kyriakidis, Thessaloniki 2017.
‘Church, World – Man’ (Philosophical and Theological Library 45), Thessaloniki 2000, p. 180.
Director of the scientific series Theology and the World of Kyriakidis Publications (15 volumes) and editor of the work of Prof. Nikos Matsoukas since 1998.
Advisor to 24 doctoral students, both national and foreign.