The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alexandra Papadopoulou, is making a blatant intervention into Church affairs, disregarding the distant role the Prime Minister himself urged the State to maintain from religious matters.
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew himself revealed this information to synodal metropolitans. He shared that Ms. Papadopoulou made a request that even “Sultan” Erdogan refrained from pursuing in the past two decades.
According to sources within the Church, she reportedly expressed “the Greek government’s discontent with Archbishop Elpidophoros’s direction”, urging the Patriarch “to take corrective measures”. This display of disrespect and ignorance towards ecclesiastical issues from a high-ranking diplomat has surprised even government ministers, exposing the Prime Minister and the Greek government.
What authority does the Deputy Minister have to demand action against a hierarch officially elected by the Ecumenical Patriarchate?
There’s growing concern about how Ms. Papadopoulou reconciles her actions with the roles distinctively outlined by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis to guide Church-State relations. Her involvement appears to stem from a personal agenda in Church matters, seemingly lacking expertise in ecclesiastical affairs.
Does the Greek Prime Minister know?
As for the Prime Minister’s awareness of these actions, it’s unlikely that Kyriakos Mitsotakis is informed about the Deputy Minister’s maneuvers. It’s noteworthy that Mitsotakis had cordially welcomed Archbishop Elpidophoros at the Maximos Mansion five months ago, had a meeting and shared a meal with him in New York just a month ago, and his wife attended his enthronement.
Papadopoulou cites “national reasons” to urge Archbishop Elpidophoros to change his approach, alleging his creation of division within the Greek community. By her logic, should she intervene if she deems Metropolitan Nikitas of Thyateira in Great Britain doesn’t resonate with the Greek Cypriot community in London? Or if the Minister of Interior disapproves of the Metropolitan of Messinia, for example, should he demand that Archbishop Ieronymos refer his case to the hierarchy?
“The Greek government has resolved state issues and is now meddling in Church affairs?” remarked a government official who notices Papadopoulou’s acrimonious remarks about Archbishop Elpidophoros. Things are not rosy in the USA either but if there are outstanding issues regarding Orthodox matters, these concern solely the Ecumenical Patriarchate. They fall by no means within the purview of a government minister, be it in Greece, Turkey, or the USA.
*Republished from the newspaper “Dimokratia”
Translated by Konstantinos Menyktas