By Efi Efthimiou
The upcoming visit of Archbishop Elpidophoros of America to the Athonite Community has sparked considerable agitation among its members.
According to information from orthodoxtimes.gr, the article that leaked from a specific media outlet in the USA has caused significant discontent within several monasteries of Mount Athos. The article claims that Archbishop Elpidophoros is deemed an “undesirable person” (persona non grata) in the Garden of the Virgin Mary, stirring unrest among the Athonite monks.
According to the letter that orthodoxtimes.gr brings to light today, the Athonite Community does not mention at any point its intention to rebel and, therefore, not to welcome Archbishop Elpidophoros.
The letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was sent on December 15/28 of the previous year.
The tone and substance of the letter, for anyone who knows to read, are unequivocal. It is short, simple and clear. The photos published after the now well-known baptism of the child of a same-sex couple give the wrong impression about the stance of the Church on same-sex marriage.
This was the “objection” of the Athonites, which can in no way be considered as a refusal to welcome a Hierarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, no matter how much some seek to “read behind the lines”.
This letter, according to credible sources within the Athonite Community, does not pertain to Archbishop Elpidophoros. Rather, it voices concerns about the confusion of a same-sex couple’s baptism photos amid ongoing societal debates in Greece on same-sex marriage and adoption.
The same sources, that spoke to Orthodox Times, suggest that the letter’s genesis lies within a specific monastery, seeking to express its concerns after Archbishop Elpidophoros’s visit and deliberately orchestrating its leak to a chosen media outlet.
It would be followed by its reproduction – as it was – by the well-known blogs that are used to republishing “church news”.
Contrary to the insinuations of the letter, several circles from the Archdiocese, invited to comment on the fact the Archbishop was deemed as “undesirable”, highlight widespread enthusiasm surrounding Archbishop Elpidophoros’s visit. They underline the excitement on both sides of the Atlantic due to the visit’s program and the large accompanying delegation.
Regarding the article disseminated by a Greek diaspora media outlet in New York, which was also reproduced by some Greek websites, circles within the Archdiocese dismiss it as an expected attempt at disinformation. They perceive this as a systematic effort of the same author who serves the plans of those who fiercely seek to undermine relations between the Greek diaspora, the Greek state, and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, specifically targeting Archbishop Elpidophoros.