The Archbishop of America spoke of his vision for the future of the Archdiocese and the issues related to national affairs and the Greek Diaspora.
Speaking on Greek public television, Archbishop Elpidophoros referred to the strong ties between the Archdiocese and the Greek Diaspora, saying that it was a “relationship of blood, spirit, culture.” These ties are indissoluble. What is happening in Greece and Cyprus concerns and affects us directly.”
Asked how the Archdiocese could make this relationship more beneficial for both sides, he said: “The Archdiocese of America is the natural leader of the Greek-American lobby. We are ready to move in any direction in cooperation with Greece and Cyprus to defend the interests of the homeland and the nation.”
Asked how effective the Archdiocese can be as the representative of our national issues in Washington, given that it must strike a balance with Ankara because of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Archbishop explained that “the balance, which must be maintained by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and, therefore, by the Archdiocese of America with Ankara, are not based on the criterion of self-protection. The Ecumenical Patriarchate has never acted on its interests as an institution but always based on self-sacrifice, not self-protection. In all its movements, the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Archdiocese are moving towards peace-making. Peace is in the best interest of all of us.”
America in crisis
“Fortunately, Greece did not feel the breath of death on its family and its neighborhood by the coronavirus. You did not feel that sentiment in Greece. You lived it like a fairy tale, like a movie. And, fortunately, that is due to the brave and forward-thinking decisions by the Greek government. We had a serious problem in the USA. We saw containers full of dead people because there was no time left to bury them. People have been locked up in their homes, which are often miles apart, and look like a prison. This isolation increased aggression, violence, unemployment, and, on top of this, was the assassination of one of our fellow citizens, who in no way deserved to die with a knee on his neck. That murder was the spark that ignited the flame.”
Asked what prompted him to take part in the march, he said: “I, as a Greek who is endowed with humanitarian values, as a Christian and as a clergyman, could not consciously pretend not to see, hear, care, or simply remain silent. I put on my face mask and went to the march. I did it spontaneously, following the voice of my conscience, and I did not see people angry, furious, violent, marginalized.”
Three burning issues: St. Nicholas Church, Boston Theological School, and Pension Fund of Clergy
“My main concern was to restore the honor and dignity of Greek community and Orthodoxy in the USA, to which we had been exposed as Greek community, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, and Orthodoxy, due to a lack of proper sound financial management of St. Nicholas. By God’s grace, thanks to the self-sacrifice and generosity of great Greek-American organizations, we have been able to raise the money to start rebuilding the church and we are confident that we will have it completed by the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.”
The second issue to be addressed was the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Boston. “This School is an investment in the future. It is our mirror in the USA. It still has very serious financial problems, on which we have already placed our focus. We made some changes and now it returns to normalcy,” stressed Archbishop Elpidophoros.
The third issue was the pension fund for the clergy, which is insured in the Archdiocese of America. As Archbishop Elpidophoros noted, “a deficit was created, which was not covered by the Archdiocese at that time, with the result that the fund wasn’t sustainable for 20 years. So we took action. We are about to adopt a new program, there is a study, there will be a bottom line in the debt, so on this basis we are building the new fund and securing the pensions of our clergy.”