BOSTON (TNH) – 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 American, referring to them “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. For all of you who thought the international outrage would be cause for him to “learn his lesson,” you can be disabused of that idea.
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.