The visit of the Ecumenical Patriarch to New York is described as “historic” by Archbishop Elpidophoros of America in an interview given to the television channel Action24.
“Of course, from an organizational point of view, now that the visit is over I can say that I am very happy, but, to be honest, everything that was expected to go wrong went wrong.
The visit went well because the Patriarch is strong. But His health was also restored because it turned out that the Patriarch was not well and He did not know it, of course. We found out here and mobilized all our forces, not only the American ones but also the Greek ones”.
Regarding the Patriarch’s health, he stressed that “it seems that God brought Him here in order to be Patriarch for another 30 years”.
“The Saint Nicholas Church will operate normally at Easter”.
He then referred to Saint Nicholas Church, at Ground Zero, which was destroyed and its reconstruction operation took many years.
“Saint Nicholas was a very humble church, neglected, very difficult to look after. From the outside, it did not even look like a temple. It was something like a shack, like a stall that reflected the times when the Greeks came to America, the first generations, and as soon as they set foot on land they glorified God who arrived strong and healthy.
Therefore, the collapse and the reconstruction of this church also shows the transition of the Greek Diaspora in America, from the phase of the immigrant, the poor, to the phase of the Greek-American, who has progressed, and “The collapse of the Twin Towers enabled the Greek Diaspora to show its new potential and its new successes in this new land.”
Asked if the church will be open at Easter, the Archbishop of America answered that “At Easter, it will operate normally. It will also be complete, 100% finished at Easter.
“Black lives matter”
Regarding his participation in the march for Black Lives Matter, the Archbishop of America stressed that “coming from Constantinople, I personally have the legacy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which especially during the Patriarchy of Bartholomew highlighted social issues so strongly, even for the environment, human equality, human rights, democracy.
All of this for me was a legacy that worked when it came time to decide if I would walk with Eric Adams on African-American rights in America and quite spontaneously in 10 minutes I said “of course, I will go”.
And really, the demonstration was in half an hour and I did not think about it at all, I said: “of course I will go”. That’s how we built a very good relationship.”
Church and vaccines
Regarding the role of the Church in the pandemic and in vaccines, Archbishop Elpidophoros noted that “common sense suggests respecting science, research, logic. God gave us all this. No other creature has them on earth. They are gifts from God.”
“The Archdiocese is a factor of unity for Hellenism in America.
The national affairs are legitimized to be managed only by the Greek government, which if it asks the Archdiocese to contribute in any way, of course, the Archdiocese will do it by any means and in any way possible.
In addition, he pointed out: “We will not play the role of the ethnarch, substituting in negotiations or anything else those who are really legitimized to do so – the Greek government -, but you understand that the rights of Hellenism are not only in Greece.
They are in Cyprus and Constantinople and wherever Greeks live all over the world.
“There will never be any problem with the Greek government”
“There is no way there will ever be any problem with the Greek government. Well, this is another matter; this crisis highlighted the pathogenesis of the unity of Hellenism in general. It showed how easy it is to attach to each other, while we are on the same side; we are not against each other.”
“I am not a politician, I am a Hierarch”
He then referred to the full support of the Patriarch and underlined: “There are difficulties in all the provinces of the Throne where one has to do with a flock, that is, with people. There are different opinions, there are those who like you, those who do not like you, for different reasons everyone, but I am not a politician, I am a Hierarch even those who do not like me, for their own reasons, my role is not to judge them, neither to expose them nor in any way to offend them, but to win them over”.
“The Theological School of Halki is no longer a Greek-Turkish issue”
Finally, he expressed the view – and tried to explain it in all aspects, as he emphasized – that the Theological School of Halki “is no longer a Greek-Turkish issue.
Therefore, it is not legitimate for the Turkish government to ask for reciprocity from Greece to open the Halki Theological School because the Halki Theological School does not concern Greece.