Friday, October 9, 2020

GOA contextualizes recent jounces in operations

New York, NY (GOARCH) – The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, wanting to strengthen the role of the largest Eparchy of the Mother Church with a new vision and a new Charter suitable for the evolving and changing modern pastoral needs of American society, decided to place the current Charter (2003) of the Holy Archdiocese of America into abeyance. Temporarily, until the issuance of the new Charter, the administrative structures of the Archdiocese, i.e., the Holy Eparchial Synod, the Executive Committee, the Archdiocesan Council, the Clergy-Laity Assembly, as well as the respective structures of the Metropolises will continue to function as they are. The number two question I have received on yesterday's announcement is "Can you just set aside a charter like that?" Given that the elevation of Abp. Elpidophoros did just that by bypassing a number of steps and affirmative votes, I think the answer is not so much that they can, but that they are. The number one question, for those interested, is "What can a bishop do that is so uncanonical as to receive suspension but not retirement?" The answers to that so far have been varied and often guesses. Without a real answer, I'll leave those guesses unstated.

Archbishop Elpidophoros commented on the decision of the Holy and Sacred Synod.

“We have just received a wonderful opportunity to rebuild the Church in America from the ground up. Over the past one hundred years, great hierarchs led the Archdiocese of America, of which the later Patriarch Athenagoras and Archbishop Michael stand out, who consolidated and strengthened our communities. Of course, Archbishop Iakovos was the one who, in his 37 years as Archbishop, transformed our Archdiocese, giving it a leading role in American society.

“Today we feel especially blessed, because with this decision, the Ecumenical Patriarchate gives us the great opportunity to envision and design our Church together in view of its 100th anniversary. All together, clergy and laity, we will participate in a joint committee with our Patriarchate, and we will develop and complete a new plan with new perspectives on Orthodoxy in America for the next 100 years. The question here is "If they just had a clergy-laity conference, why not bring this up then?" Another might be "Is this a return to a singular ruling hierarch with several auxiliary hierarchs much like the Antiochians have favored?"

“With the Ecumenical Patriarchate, we will establish a joint committee to study the current needs and the dynamics of our Archdiocese and prepare the plan for our new Charter. Why set aside the existing charter without a new one in place? Does it simply permit the freedom to do what one wants without the niggling complaints of punctilious rules followers?

I consider this decision to be divinely inspired and auspicious, because it comes a few days before the name day of the ever-memorable Archbishop Iakovos, during which we recall the glorious past, and prepare for a new century with new visions to strengthen our ministry and renew Pan-Orthodox cooperation. We are all grateful to the leader of Orthodoxy and the Holy and Sacred Synod that is with him."

Finally, it is announced that His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros has convened an extraordinary teleconference (Zoom... in HD!) of the Holy Eparchial Synod on Monday, October 12, 2020, in order to evaluate these new decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.


  1. Even for those in GOARCH, does any of this really matter beyond the daily minutiae of internal "administration"? The fundamentals of Orthodox ecclesiology and the context of it in 'jurisdictional' NA will remain the same no matter what they do.

    1. Of course it does. If they "do the Antiochian," they will end up with a single ruling hierarch and however many powerless auxiliary bishops. The efforts to cultivate personal responsibility and authority for and within individual dioceses (metropolises) will evaporate.

      With that, such a change would move the Greek Archdiocese closer to a papal model, which seems to be the general interest of the Ecumenical Patriarchate generally. Further, there will no longer be any American-born ruling hierarchs in the GOA.

      It would make a mockery, as the Antiochian decision did, of an American "eparchy". There will be no synod of bishops as it will be a synod of one. A notable side-effect is that the heretofore impotent Assembly of Bishops in America will be rendered utterly irrelevant.

    2. I hear you B B, I guess I just don't weigh things the same. For example, I think the whole usual (excepting OCA and perhaps ROCOR) 'ethnic jurisdictional' model is already and fundamentally what you (somewhat erroneously) call the 'papal model' and already essentially an "auxiliary bishop" situation. Making it explicit such as how the Antiochians have done is in the very least more honest. Also, the Assembly of Bishops is largely impotent and irrelevant in either circumstance.

      Perhaps you have a point about bishops relationships with their parishes/people, but I suspect that too is basically unaffected either way - this is more up to the individual bishop and his level of commitment and energy.

    3. Elpidophoros, the smiley autocrat.
      Bartholomew, the grumpycat Pope.

      “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

  2. A leading role in American society? Huh? If the hierarchs could speak for 5 minutes without saying things that are so silly they might get more attention, maybe some of it good.