Thursday, July 13, 2017

EP rejects list of candidates to head Chicago Metropolis

Many times people downplay the importance of the shortlist candidate being accepted by a patriarchate. The common belief is that there is an obvious choice and that the other two names for the triprospon are thrown in for show. In some circles people defend autonomy by saying this "formality" is not a sign of power, but of good order. For example, I always get comments when Eastern Catholics follow this process even when they have their own synods. "Why is the pope involved at all? If they're really sui iuris this shouldn't happen," they say. The ready answer is "Oh, that's just a part of the process. They always take the candidate." It seems, in Phanariot circles, this isn't just kabuki theatre. Constantinople will push back on the choice (especially, when as I am told, there are others more favored like Demetrios of Mokissos).

NEW YORK (National Herald) – The election of Bishop Sevastianos of Zela as the new Metropolitan of Chicago was canceled by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The election was scheduled to take place on Thursday, July 13 at the Phanar.

The National Herald has learned that the unexpected turn of events is due to the List of Candidates which was considered problematic and incomplete.

The List, however, had been approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate last March. Bishop Sevastianos of Zela had gathered 7 votes out of 8 who voted for the triprosopon during the selection on July 6 by the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate has the right and privilege to cancel the selection of the three person ballot that is instituted by the Holy Eparchial Synod of America. The practice thus far was that the Synod of the Patriarchate presided by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was to elect the candidates who receives the majority of the votes during the selection process of the triprosopon (three person ballot).

This development may create a crisis between the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Archbishop Demetrios of America because this is a direct rejection of such an important recommendation of the Church of America expressed by its Holy Eparchial Synod.

TNH was unable to contact His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios at press time despite multiple calls to the Archdiocese.

TNH has learned that Bishop Sevastianos is in Cyprus visiting family members.

His Grace Bishop Sevastianos of Zela came first during the process of the selection of the three person ballot (trirprosopon) on July 6 by the Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, presided by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios.

The triprosopon was composed of Bishop Sevastianos of Zela, who received votes from seven of the Synod hierarchs (voters); Archimandrite George Nikas presiding priest at the Holy Trinity parish of Salt Lake City, UT, who received three votes; and Archimandrite Gerasimos Makris presiding priest of the Holy Cross parish in Brooklyn, who also received three votes.

The Synod was comprised of Archbishop Demetrios of America, presiding, and Metropolitans Methodios of Boston, Isaiah of Denver, Alexios of Atlanta, Nicholas of Detroit, Savas of Pittsburgh, Gerasimos of San Francisco, and Evangelos of New Jersey.

All voted for Sevastianos except for Gerasimos, who made clear to Demetrios and the other Synod members his preference for a candidacy of Metropolitan Nikitas of Dardaneles.

Sevastianos is the Chief Secretary of the Holy Eparchial Synod and the Spiritual Advisor to the National Philoptochos Society. He was ordained a bishop and given the honorary title of the city of Zela on December 17, 2011.

The result of the selection process was sent to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the official election by its Holy Synod,

Sevastianos was Demetrios’ choice. Metropolitan Nicholas will preside in the interim until a new metropolitan of Chicago is officially elected.

The Synod decided that the List of Candidates was incomplete because not all the names of those eligible for election were included. The Patriarchate is going to ask from Archbishop Demetrios to add to the List all those eligible candidates including those hierarchs who have served at the Archdiocese of America and now serving in Metropolises abroad such as Metropolitan Athenagoras of Mexico, Cleopas of Sweden, Tarasios of Buenos Aires, Nikitas of Dardanelles. Also, the current Metropolitans of the Archdiocese could be place on the List if they desire to be transferred to the Metropolis of Chicago.

Bishop Sevastianos was born in Ano-Zodia, Cyprus, he is the first of three children born to Panayiota and Frixos Skordallos. He is a graduate of the Theological School of the University of Athens, Greece (1978). He received a scholarship through the World Council of Churches to study in the United States at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur Georgia (1982) where he received a ThM in Pastoral Psychology. He has worked and received advanced certification in Clinical Pastoral Education at Caraway Methodist Medical Center, Birmingham, Alabama (1980-1982), and furthered his studies in Pastoral Psychology at Vanderbilt University, Nashville Tennessee and Middle Tennessee State University (1982-1984).

He was ordained Deacon on January 17, 1974, by the late Metropolitan of Morphou Chrysanthos and Priest on March 4, 1978 in England by the Bishop of Tropaiou Gregorios who is currently the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain. He received the offikion of Archimandrite by the late Archbishop of Thyateira Athenagoras. He has served several parishes both as a deacon and a priest in Cyprus, Greece and the United States.

As a Deacon, he served the late Metropolitan Chyrsanthos of Morphou (1974), St. George Church, in Akadimia Platonos, in Athens (1975), St. Nicholas Church in Kato Patisia, Athens (1976-78), and as a priest in Nottingham England (1978-79), Holy Trinity-Holy Cross in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S. (1980-82), Sts. Constantine and Helen – Holy Cross, Huntsville, Alabama (1982-84, 1989-93), the Cathedral of Panayia Catholike, Limassol Cyprus (1984-88), Holy Transfiguration, Marietta, Georgia (1993-2004), and St. Nicholas Cathedral, Tarpon Springs, Florida (2004-06). He was appointed Chief Secretary of the Synod by Archbishop Demetrios of America on June 1, 2006.

Bishop Sevastianos has been actively involved in the Administration Committees of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America serving as a Council member on the Metropolis and Archdiocesan levels; in the Administration Committee of the Archdiocesan Council where he assisted in developing resources for the training of Parish Councils and in the Legal Committee of the Archdiocese. He has served as President of the Clergy Syndesmos of the Metropolis of Atlanta for several years and the Archdiocesan Presbyters Council.


  1. From the few interactions I have had with him, I think Bp. Sevastianos would have been okay as metropolitan. Beyond that, if the three names given are correct, I am pleasantly surprised by our US synod - Fr. Gerasimos was chaplain at Holy Cross while I was there and he seemed like a genuinely faithful man. I have not, to my recollection, met Fr. George.

    Anyway, I guess we will wait and see what happens next. Lord, have mercy!
    +Fr. Peter

  2. And the whole "we approved the list, but it's not complete" sounds a bit like "the voting will continue until the correct result is achieved." I hope it is not, but it does not look good.

  3. "For example, I always get comments when Eastern Catholics follow this process even when they have their own synods. "Why is the pope involved at all? If they're really sui iuris this shouldn't happen," they say. The ready answer is "Oh, that's just a part of the process. They always take the candidate."

    The recent case of the Eparchy of Parma for Ruthenians is a good example. I don't know for sure if the Metropolitan Council, we don't have a synod, submitted names to Rome for a new Eparchial Bishop but given that an apostolic admin from the Old Country was appointed it seems to me that it could be the case the Rome did not like the names submitted. It is a thought I've had.

  4. I had this weird feeling when I saw THN decide to go ahead and proclaim a new metropolitan before the EP announced anything. The ink wasn't dry on the letter to the EP with the candidates before THN decide to go announcing things. I almost wonder if them doing that had any bearing on the EP rejecting this.

    1. Well, in their defense this almost never happens.

    2. I know. I guess it just rubbed me the wrong way when I saw they were already saying things without the Archdiocese saying anything. I don't have a dog in that fight, it just seemed wrong.

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