By Nikos Kolokithas
The ending has long been predetermined. It was only a matter of time before Metropolitan Amfilochios of Adrianople left the office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Athens; an office that has been the apple of discord between Athens and the Phanar for decades.
Many in the Ecumenical Patriarchate expected this to happen much earlier. Health reasons are well-founded; say those who closely follow church events. Health reasons of mental health, however, of all those who watched closely this endless and meaningless confrontation between Athens and the Phanar which many attributed to Amfilochios. At the time he was serving in a key position where, in theory, he should have the distinction of his predecessor, Metropolitan John of Pergamon, and build an excellent communication with the Greek government and the Church of Greece.
On the contrary, Amfilochios sought, they say, to make the Office of Representation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate an “Exarchate” to satisfy his personal ambitions. And the main thing: To acquire the position of an absolute regulator in Greece, which he never managed to take over next to Archbishop Ieronymos.
For five more reasons it is said that there was this deafening “divorce” between Metropolitan Amfilochios of Adrianople and the Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Athens.
1. Non-existent relations with the government.
Amfilochios, in contrast to the period of the SYRIZA-ANEL government where he maintained privileged relations with ministers and had set his own agenda, during the ND government, did not find hearing ears. This is because the Ecumenical Patriarch himself has an open line with the Maximos Palace and therefore the role of Amfilochios was more decorative.
2. The persistent attitude towards Archbishop Ieronymos.
From the beginning of his term, Amfilochios, say Metropolitans on both sides of the Aegean probably had the purpose, mainly to make the life of the Prelate of the Greek Church difficult because when he served next to him, “he did not take the role he believed that he deserved”, creating frictions between Athens and the Phanar.
3. The “rejection” by the Ecumenical Patriarch.
During his official visit to Athens, Patriarch Bartholomew did not follow the tactics of confrontation with the Church of Greece on the issues that separate them, as it is heard that Amfilochios suggested to him. On the contrary, in a spirit of conciliation, Bartholomew with his attitude proved that the Church of Greece must always be the shield of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the first Church – its ally in the face of coming difficulties.
4. His crude movements and manipulations.
From the case with the Probona Estate and the “fiasco” with the Mayor of Athens who obviously took the side of the Archdiocese of Athens and other individual issues that the Ecumenical Patriarch should have a better picture of (e.g. posts of clergy), to the desire of upgrading the Monastery of Saint Paraskevi in Mazi of Megara as a Stavropegial monastery and an autonomous center of personal power, made the relationship between Athens and the Phanar non-functional.
5. The progression of the Metropolitan of Chalcedon.
Three’s a crowd, they say, and it seems that in this case, too, they are right. The Metropolitan of Chalcedon is the de facto number two in the Phanar. He has excellent relations with the Church of Greece and functional relations with the government. Emmanuel tried as hard as he could to support Amfilochios, but his tactic did not help him. That is why Emmanuel decided not to follow him in his way of thinking “we are tearing everything down”. By the time Amfilochios was left without any strong ally, realized – being a very intelligent man – he had to take the next step away from Athens.
It should be reminded that the Ecumenical Patriarch received on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, Metropolitan Amfilochios of Adrianople, who submitted to Him for health reasons his resignation from the position of Director of the Representation Office of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Athens.
The Patriarch accepted the resignation and thanked Metropolitan Amfilochios for his services in this position for more than seven years.