New York, August 16, 2023
The heads of several Orthodox jurisdictions in America have sent an 11th-hour appeal to Archbishop Elpidophoros, again imploring him to abandon his plans to make a bishop out of the defrocked former Archimandrite Alexander Belya.
Archbishop Elpidophoros intends to go ahead with episcopal consecration of defrocked Alexander BelyaAlexander Belya has been at the center of a number of controversies in recent years. He was defrocked by ROCOR in February 2020, and thus is canonically only a lay monk.
“>Earlier this month, Abp. Elpidophoros of the Patriarchate of Constantinople’s Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America informed the other hierarchs of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of United States of America that despite their serious objections and warnings, he intends to go ahead with the consecration of Belya
Over the past year, Assembly hierarchs have voiced their protest several times, emphasizing that because they recognize Belya’s canonical defrocking by ROCOR and take serious issue with his moral character, they would be forced to quit the Assembly were he to become a bishop and therefore a member.
In his most recent message, Abp. Elpidophoros attempted to alleviate the bishops’ concerns by proposing that Belya would not join the inter-jurisdictional Assembly and would never participate in any Assembly events.
However, it seems the hierarchs are remaining firm in their stance.
On Friday, August 11, His Eminence Metropolitan Saba of the Antiochian Archdiocese, His Beatitude Metropolitan Tikhon of the Orthodox Church in America, His Eminence Metropolitan Nicolae of the Romanian Metropolia, and His Grace Bishop Longin of the Serbian Orthodox Church, they sent another letter to Abp. Elpidophoros, making one last plea for him to cancel the consecration of Belya for good.
The letter, published by Helleniscope reads:
Your Eminence, Beloved Brother in Christ,
Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
It was with sorrow and disappointment that we received your letter of August 7, 2023, regarding your intention to ordain Alexander Belya to the Holy Episcopacy in spite of our concerns and objections. Our position, as expressed in letters dated Jurisdictions unite against GOARCH plans to make defrocked archimandrite a bishopThe hierarchs warn that they will quit the Assembly of Canonical Bishops if Belya becomes a member.
“>June 27, 2022, BREAKING: Bishops again implore Elpidophoros: don’t make Belya a bishop, our broken culture needs a unified ChurchGiven that Abp. Elpidophoros simply dismissed the hierarchs’ concerns about Belya as hearsay, this second letter goes into more detail. First, the hierarchs note that Belya was received into GOARCH after he had already been suspended by his former jurisdiction, the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.”>July 12, 2022, and GOARCH’s Alexander Belya scandal escalates with his threats of lawsuits against other jurisdictionsMost recently Belya sent a letter through his attorney Oleg Rivkin to the heads of the Orthodox jurisdictions in America, threatening legal action against them for their stance against him.”>January 19, 2023, has not changed.
Therefore, we come to you at the eleventh hour, praying that, for the sake of Orthodox unity in America, you will not proceed with this ordination. Moreover, we ask that you propose to the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate that it reverse its decision to elevate this individual to the Episcopacy, whose conduct and canonical status have caused, and will continue to cause, so much division among the Orthodox Christians of the United States.
Wishing you a blessed Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, we remain,
Your brothers and concelebrants,
Metropolitan Saba, Vice-Chairman
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
Bishop Longin, Serbian Orthodox Bishop of New Gracanica-Midwestern America
Metropolitan Nicolae, Romanian Orthodox Metropolia of the Americas
Metropolitan Tikhon, Orthodox Church in America
CC: His All-Holiness, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew
His Beatitude, Patriarch John X of Antioch and All the East
His Holiness, Patriarch Porfirije of Serbia
His Beatitude, Patriarch Daniel of Romania
Alexander Belya has been at the center of a number of controversies in recent years.
Little Philaret: ROCOR archimandrite leaves for Constantinople after being passed over for bishopThe open letter notes that Belya was suspended from his priestly duties but refused to submit to his ruling hierarch and that he and his younger brother Ivan Belya, who is forbidden to commune, have ignored summons to be questioned by a diocesan investigative committee.
“>In the summer of 2019, the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate received a letter purporting to be a request from His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral), then the First Hierarch of ROCOR, that it confirm the ROCOR Synod’s election of Belya to the episcopacy. However, Met. Hilarion said he never sent any such letter, and the ROCOR Synod never actually elected Belya, who was subsequently suspended from priestly duties.
Refusing to abide by his suspension, he instead fled to GOARCH without a canonical release from ROCOR. He was defrocked by ROCOR in ROCOR Holy Synod laicizes archimandrite who joined Constantinople after not being chosen as bishopMeeting at the Synodal Headquarters in New York on February 5/18, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia came to a decision in the case of Alexander (Belya), the archimandrite who left the jurisdiction without a canonical release after failing to get himself elected as a bishop.
“>February 2020, and thus is canonically only a lay monk.
Greek Archdiocese creates Slavic vicariate with multiple defrocked and suspended clericsAll of the Vicariate clergy are either canonically defrocked or suspended or associated with the defrocked or suspended clergy.
“>GOARCH created a “Slavic Vicariate” and placed Belya at its head. The Vicariate is largely made up of defrocked and suspended clerics. Plans to consecrate Belya as bishop for the Vicariate have as yet not come to fruition.
GOARCH’s Alexander Belya scandal escalates with his threats of lawsuits against other jurisdictionsMost recently Belya sent a letter through his attorney Oleg Rivkin to the heads of the Orthodox jurisdictions in America, threatening legal action against them for their stance against him.
“>On January 11 of this year, Belya sent a letter through his attorney Oleg Rivkin to the heads of the Orthodox jurisdictions in America, threatening legal action against them for their stance against him. Copies of the letters were also sent to the primates of the Local Churches represented in America.
As soon as he learned of Belya’s actions, Archbishop Elpidophoros instructed him to withdraw the letters, but the Assembly hierarchs noted that the whole episode only reaffirms and highlights their serious opposition to Belya ever becoming a hierarch.
Belya is also suing ROCOR, his former jurisdiction, including the now departed Metropolitan Hilarion (Kapral) of blessed memory. Belya vs. ROCOR: Supreme Court refuses to hear Church’s argument, Belya’s suit moves aheadThe Supreme Court rejected on Monday the call from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia to hear its objections to lower court rulings allowing the case of the defrocked Alexander Belya to be brought against the Church jurisdiction.
“>In June, the Supreme Court rejected ROCOR’s call to hear its objections to lower court rulings allowing Belya’s case to be brought against the Church jurisdiction. Thus, his suit will move ahead for now.
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