Friday, August 11, 2023

Making a bishop with cooties

The Orthodox Christianity news resource posted a commentary on the continued efforts of Archbishop Elpidophoros to elevate a man to the episcopate with a colorful biography. Do go read it there, but my comments will just be on the below letter dated August 7th, 2023 (PDF here).

The larger effort here is to make a Slavic Vicariate inside the Greek Archdiocese led by a bishop. Due to the defrocking, court case, and all the rest related to Belya, bishops in the episcopal assembly warned that he would not be accepted and that it would cause disruptions. So the GOA paused for a time. Now, it seems, they are moving forward. This is going to be received like twice warmed-over cafeteria tilapia.

I greet you warmly in the peace and love of our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It has been over a year since the election to the episcopacy by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of His Grace Bishop-Elect Alexander Belya as bishop of Nicopolis. I have heard your concerns expressed to me by way of correspondence and in person. I have welcomed your thoughts and tried to address your concerns with brotherly love and understanding. And I have responded to these concerns during an open and transparent discussion at our Assembly meeting back in January 2023, in Los Angeles, CA. Moreover, in a spirit of consensus, I have postponed the ordination of His Grace searching for ways to create the necessary conditions for a context acceptable to all. However, while respecting your positions, I also have to abide by the decisions of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and proceed with the ordination of our Bishop-Elect.

At the same time, I would like to assure you that I am considering specific actions that, I pray, will facilitate your continued participation in the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the USA and support a consensus by:

1. Not accepting His Grace Bishop-Elect Alexander of Nicopolis as a member of the Assembly despite article 3, section 1, of the Assembly bylaws;

2. And, subsequently, by not inviting him to participate in any Assembly activities that would put you in any position of discomfort.

It is my sincere hope and earnest prayer that these two suggestions will allow us to continue building a spirit of fraternal collaboration and communion, especially at a time when so many other forces antagonize us. As we read in Scripture: “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls.” (Luke 11:17) Our witness to Holy Orthodoxy in this blessed Nation should never submit to the spirit of this world.

May our Lord abundantly pour upon you His rich blessings and continue to guide you as we walk towards the holy feast of the Theotokos’s Dormition. With fraternal love in Christ,


Archbishop of America


  1. Again: What is up with Abp Elpidophoros? I can't say I've been impressed by the Assembly of Bishops, but what do he (or Patriarch Bartholomew) gain by blowing it up? Is this deliberate, or just tone-deaf ineptitude?

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  3. "Making a bishop with cooties..."

    Boy, that really does some up Elpidophoros position/"solution" here.

    "...that would put you in any position of discomfort..."

    As if ecclesiology is to be done on a base level of pain/comfort - there are not valid *moral* reasons for him to take any other course...geez.

  4. "The saying is sure: If any one aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a noble task. Now a bishop must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way; for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may be puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil;[a] moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders, or he may fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."

    Totally nailing those "above reproach" and "well thought of" requirements.

  5. Canonically speaking, this man can never be made a bishop, even if they pantomime a consecration.

  6. It puts the Gk clergy in America between a "rock and a hard place".

  7. Maybe it's time for ROCOR to set up a more rigorous pre-ordination vetting (and mental health screening) process? The headline's always, 'rogue ROCOR clergyman runs off to do even more crazy things.' How has the lesson not been learned all these decades later?

    1. "Maybe it's time for ROCOR to set up a more rigorous pre-ordination vetting..."

      All the "jurisdictions" could do a better job of this, though some already better than others (I wonder if GOA is actually not the best, though this may be more down to size/resources than anything else).

      However it's only one tool in the box. The RC's are on a whole (though there is significant variability within) quite ahead of us on this front, but they still have a real homosexualism problem.

    2. “Only the best for ROCOR”
      But we can thank Abp. Nathaniel Head of ROEA and the Romanian Orthodox Church for cosseting Koja in the last 28 years since his Elbasan exploit. I’m afraid Koja’s standing as an ROEA priest will make it impossible for the Assembly of Bishops to avoid him despite the very loud repeated objections of Abp. Anastasios of Tirana. I am pretty sure Bartholomew arranges this appointment as punishment for Anastasios’ refusal to kowtow in Phanar’s struggle to get the OCU and the pernicious stipulations of its Tomos recognizes. It might be fair to say that Anastasios’ refusal scotches the attempted panorthodox coup which if unapposed would grant the Phanar unparalleled and unprecedented rights over every other jurisdiction.

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  8. Abp Elpidophoros seems intent on making his mark everywhere he can. He came to GOARCH as it were uninvited, as the canonical process of local clergy assembly selecting 3 candidates for election was overridden by the Phanar and this person foisted without consultation. He was a ‘gift’ of the Patriarch which cannot be refused. Then he quickly ‘put into abeyance’ the Charter so he could make staff appointments it forbid. Then the Belya choice for a new ethnic jurisdiction parasitic to OCA and ROCOR. Then the Koja ‘ordination’ to episcopacy where he confesses Roman Catholic doctrine, strenuously opposed by the Abp. of Tirana, Anastasios. Now forcing upon American parishes this Belya person again after a year hoping that no one besides the (now defrocked) Metr. Joseph will stand up to him. The Greek clergy outside New York and New Jersey oppose him nearly unanimously but he presses forward with his plans. He must make his mark on America, a land he clearly knows nothing about.
    I can compare him to no one but trump for his reckless aggressive drive to exceed every limit, precedent and statute, to inflict as much damage as he can while he’s able. He seems determined to leave a legacy like Meletios Metaxakis of thrice-cursed memory, and multiply the woes of orthodox clergy and laymen worldwide. And all the while smiling smugly like he knows no one can stop him. Is this the kind of church we want? His damage is not limited to the Greek Archdiocese; most of his actions have other jurisdictions as targets. Just this week he said GOARCH alone has any canonical jurisdiction in America, and that he plans to expand the Slavic Vicariate and create new ones for Asian- and Black Americans. GOARCH clergy are aghast and powerless to oppose him, because their Archdiocese is a foreign-run dictatorship. Elpidophoros is ultimately a fall-guy whose destructive activity will quickly ruin his standing and end his career’s upward thrust but will be successful in enacting the plans of Patr. Bartholomew who plainly has his eye on far worse disruption of Orthodox Church structure than what’s he’s already doing in Ukraine.

    1. One correction: Metropolitan Joseph was not deposed (defrocked), just compulsorily retired under a cloud of scandal.