Elpi Nullifies the GOA’s Charter

Received the following from one of our loyal readers.  Apparently, Elpi has placed the GOA’s Charter into abeyance with the intent to rewrite it.  https://www.goarch.org/-/ecumenical-patriarchate-communiqu–october-2020

A Charter is a legal document issued by a sovereign, legislature, or other authority, (like the State of New York) creating a corporation, defining its privileges and purposes.  

The GOA Charter, which apparently has been put aside, says, “All legal issues which affect the Archdiocese as a whole and its Metropolises are within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Eparchial Synod,” which are of course are the metropolitans, two of which Elpi just dismissed.

I guess he could suspend all of them all if they didn’t go along with this.

 “The present Charter regulating the affairs of the Holy Archdiocese of America as an ecclesiastical institution, may be amended in its entirety or in part after a proposal of the Holy Eparchial Synod submitted to the Ecumenical Patriarchate following the appropriate procedure in the Archdiocesan Council and the Archdiocesan Clergy-Laity Congress, and after the approval of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to which the proposal has been submitted.”

Nowhere, does it say the Archbishop can place the Charter into abeyance and create a new one.  If he is allowed to get away with this, could a new Charter change the agreement between the monasteries and the Archdiocese?  I think it probably could. 

No one stood up for the Charter when it came to electing the Archbishop so are the good people of the GOA going to see this as a “bridge too far” or will it be “same ‘ol, same ‘ol?”  We’ll let you decide.  https://www.goarch.org/documents/charter

BREAKING NEWS

Ecumenical Patriarchate

Communiqué

Today, Thursday, October 8, 2020, on the third day of its work in this current month, the Holy and Sacred Synod extensively examined, among other items, issues of the Holy Archdiocese of America, and considered reports of His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. The following decisions were taken:

a)     It placed into abeyance the force of the Charter of the Holy Archdiocese of America, with the objective of constituting a joint Committee of representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Archdiocese for the composition of a new Charter.

b)     It placed His Eminence Metropolitan Methodios of Boston under a penance of suspension until the Feast of Christmas, on account that he had fallen into canonical transgressions.

c)      It transferred His Eminence Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey to the Holy Metropolis of Sardes and appointed as Patriarchal Vicar in the vacant Eparchy of New Jersey, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America.

 

From the Chief Secretariat of The Holy and Sacred Synod

October 8, 2020

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Comments

  1. Michael Bauman says

    The real question is will any other jurisdictions say or do anything? Even a simple “Come Join Us” or receive GOA clergy/monastics without release?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I think that could happen. The Russians are already doing it.

    • My guess is no. Given that Abp. Elpidophoros is head of the bishops council now, my guess is nothing will be said or done. The other bishops haven’t raised concerns or anything with the other things he has said/done, why would they start now? 
      It’s really starting to feel that ROCOR and the Serbians are the last hope for Orthodoxy here in America 

      • Petros,
        I think that Michael is asking about whether “other jurisdictions” like ROCOR will do anything like allow GOARCH clergy to join them without release, and the answer to that is YES, because ROCOR has done that lately with ex EP clergy.

  2. My guess:
     
    1) They turn the Metropoli into diocese and all authority goes to the “Archbishop of New York.” And the current Metropolitans lose the level of autonomy they currently have 
     
    2) They specify that the church buildings are GOARCH property and that they can’t leave, I’m guessing this could apply to the monasteries as well. This same thing happened when parishes and whole diocese started leaving the EpiscopalIan denomination.
     
    That’s just my two cents. This is a power grab.  

    • Gail Sheppard says

      It certainly is. I would be livid if I were in the GOA.

      • I would hope, but who knows. At this point parishes/priests/monastics in GOARCH need to either go down with the ship or leave. I think the time of righteous indignation and trying to fix things is over 

      • There’s always a way out. It’s called debt.  More to come.

      • I am in the GOA’s metropolis of Boston, and I am livid!

        • Timmy,
           
          What does “being livid” look like when played out in reality?  Being angry and seething in a corner?  

          I’m not trying to be flippant, simply saying that I’m sure that Abp E couldn’t give two rats’ a**es if you seethe quietly in anger. 
           
          The fact of the matter is that there simply hasn’t been a critical enough mass of people willing to do anything to bring about any meaningful change in the GOAA. A few individual families and people may leave for other jurisdictions. The GOAA leadership is fine with that and doesn’t care.  

          Enough Greek-Americans are still willing to fund their private chaplaincy of an archdiocese and sort-of-repository of Greek culture in America that the leadership doesn’t care about the dissenters. The dissenters are merely collateral damage, and the GOA is probably glad when they leave. 

          It’s been obvious for decades that the GOA is the new ECUSA – it has some beautiful parish buildings and some wealthy benefactors and some decent endowments here and there, but fewer and fewer parishioners.  And the leadership doesn’t care – they seem to prefer the large beautiful temples to be empty, as long as they say Greek and as long as the current leadership retains control.  And for those of us who strive to love Christ and be with Him, well no GOA parish has ever been able to help me grow deeply in Christ. 

          I continue to be bewildered by the GOA faithful who stay and who continue to get angry with each new archdiocesan transgression each month. Talk about learned helplessness. 

          I’m glad you’re livid and at least stating that you’re setting a boundary, but I hope you understand that the GOA Abp couldn’t care less about your anger. And that dynamic ain’t changing anytime soon.  The GOA leadership knows that the faithful that it cares about are too codependent to ever be able to set boundaries that mean anything. 

          If I could ask, why do you or folks like you stay in the GOA and continue to finance such an organization?  There are probably some good reasons – what are they?

          • Thank you FTS.  The ECUSA for sure.

          • FTS, good questions & points.
            We stay for 2 simple reasons: 1) because for over 12 years we’ve been part of our little parish community, which is made up of a diverse group of interesting & wonderful people who genuinely love each other…it is truly a special place, and 2) because we don’t have any viable options within driving distance. For better or worse, we’re “stuck”.
            I agree that the new archbishop & the patriarch don’t care. I’m going to be talking with our priest & fellow parishioners about options because I agree that complacency is what they are counting on so they can continue with more of the same business as usual nonsense.

    • Yes, Petros. I believe this is exactly what is going to happen.
      Can the monasteries get out right now? Will they be able to challenge the power grab? I was praying that they would have made a move when Bart transformed the Ukrainian schismatic lay people into an “autocephalous church.” But alas, now they find themselves backed into a corner. If they accept the new charter, what happens when Elpi starts bringing the pseudo OCU “hierarchs” to visit the monasteries? Do they just grin and bear it? This is going to get very ugly…very fast.

    • And a real estate grab. Now they have many more  communities to sell off.

  3. ANAXIOS!!!

  4. Can someone enlighten me as to whether there are any similarities in what Met. Joseph did in the Antiochian Church?  I am unfamiliar but remember a centralization of power of some kind with title (and power?) changes for the Bishops.  Likely quite different from what AE is doing but would appreciate a quick summary if anyone has time.  

    • Gail Sheppard says

      It was Metropolitan Joseph’s predecessor, Metropolitan Philip.

      In 2009, he decided to “protect our God-protected Archdiocese”, by demoting all our bishops (I was Antiochian back then) to auxiliary bishops. We fought him. Our two chancellors, who had several decades between them, quit. The laity raised a major fuss and bought ourselves about a year, but it happened anyway.

      • Why did the Antiochian Patriarchate make such a decision?

        • Gail Sheppard says

          It wasn’t our patriarchate who made this decision. It was our metropolitan. In fact, our patriarch had to come out and say he was against it because a former Montreal priest and his wife conspired to trick us into thinking he was onboard when he wasn’t. They ferreted out documents with the Patriarch’s signature and put them on our website. It’s a fascinating story. They really should make a movie out of it.
          http://www.ocanews.org/news/ScandalOverDocuments6.29.09.html

          • Why would Met. Phillip want that? I guess you could theorize that he was power hungry, so…
            The AOCNA hierarchs did not care? Or they cared but weren’t strong enough to take an open stand, maybe?
            So… It was a matter of Met. Philip somehow persuading the Patriarch to change his mind and go against the preferences of the other AOCNA hierarchs to make Met. Philip the basic sole empowered true “bishop” of the AOCNA?

            • Gail Sheppard says

              He didn’t want to be challenged. I think the bishops were a little afraid of him, as he resembled the Queen of Hearts when he was displeased, which I found out the hard way.

              He did not persuade the Patriarch of anything. He sent a delegation to Antioch and an “old friend from Chicago days” put a fake document under the patriarch’s nose and told him it was something it wasn’t to get him to sign it. He then took the document to a friend’s house and faxed it to the Archdiocese before anyone was any wiser.

              • Good explanation.

              • Michael Bauman says

                Met Philip was an old country tribal elder who brooked no opposition, real or perceived. He liked to rule by fiat.

                I believe the decision to demote began when Fr. Basil Essey was elected Bishop. No one expected that as Fr. Basil was simply on the slate to meet the required three names. Met Philip wanted his long time deacon to be the new Bishop. It stunned everyone, most of all Bp. Basil, when the results were announced. I am sure Met Philip it was the result of a political manuver not the movement of the Holy Spirit.

                When I told Bp Basil at the time that I would have voted for him, he rebuked me saying “Then you are no friend of mine!” Given the surprise of his election to Bishop, Bp Basil was sweating bullets when the election to Met occured after Met. Philip’s repose.

                Bp Basil’s election alone challenged Met Philip.
                Bp. Basil is the polar opposite of Met Philip. Met Philip was an intimidator. Bp. Basil is a kind, generous man with great love in his heart.

                The move caused a lot of people grief and sorrow and weakened the Archdiocese but Met. Philip did not really get much out of it.

                When he issued an order not to sing the Beatitudes during the Little Entrance as is our practice, Bp Basil simply ignored it. I assume everybody else did too. I am sure we will never know how many other things Bp Basil and the others did to protect us. Unfortunately they could not do everything. Many people still bare the scars of the time. Gail, perhaps, the most. It is deeply sad.

                We are still too focused on the Old Country in my opinion and that is probably the most enduring legacy of Met Philip.

                The other hierarchs did appeal to our Patriarch but to no avail as Gail indicates. The unified appeal perhaps tempered Met Philip’s ability to act further. The fact that there was not more trouble kinda indicates to me that maybe rhe ACONA really is “God protected” as we claim.
                Certainly we are in better shape than any other non-Slavic jurisdiction of any size. But do not expect any bold public response to the latest tragedy in the GOA although it cannot but raise memories of Met. Philip and his capricious and tryannical leadership. It is highly unlikely that any of our Bishops will cave to the egregious demands of modernity. You can take a look at who they are on the ACONA website.

                However the fact that there is still no one to replace Met Joseph in LA and the west is troubling to me. None of our Bishops are young. Interestingly we have two possible candidates here in Wichita right now. Robust, good hearted, faithful men. If a third shows up….? All speculation.

              • George Michalopulos says

                Gail dear, I never cease to gag when I am reminded of this story.

                Are we here in America “mature” enough for an autocephalous Church? Rather the question should be “what have the Old World patriarchates ever done to commend themselves in regards to ‘maturity’?”

              • Gail, thank you ~ I was conflating two memories.  Sorry to have brought up that sad association.   By God’s grace you have certainly risen above, Glory to God.

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Nicole as a personal recipient  of a small and indirect portion of Met Philips “tenderness” that has taken roughly 33 years to rise above but is still there to some degree in my heart, I cannot imagine the struggle Gail must have.  
                  Gail please know you are in my prayers.  

                  • Gail Sheppard says

                    Thank you, Michael.

                    • We all have scars from that time at Palm Desert.I’ll never forget the yelling and nastiness when a young woman stood up and asked why the Archdiocese doesn’t have an open transparent audit . I also remember Gail having “ strangers” stalking her house .

                    • Gail Sheppard says

                      And *I* remember you being there for me through the whole thing, Stephen, something I will never forget. I have a special kind of love for you, my friend.

  5. The charter was changed because Bartholomew did not want another Iakovos. That’s one of the reasons why the GOA has not had an American archbishop. My guess is that even though it took more than a year to implement, the decision to change the charter again and status of the metropolitans was something the archbishop and patriarch certainly had agreed upon before Elpidoforos was installed. Nothing happens in the partriarchate and its dependencies without the express knowledge and blessing of the patriarch.
    Parish property ownership depends on how things are defined it its articles of incorporation. Not all parishes are “owned” by either their metropolis or the archdiocese. 
    It is interesting that Metropolitan Methodios’ canonical transgressions are not identified. One has to surmise that refers to the virtual conference he organized with the other metropolitans. His instructions to his priests regarding mandatory use of a single spoon can in no way be a canonical transgression, and, in fact are to his great credit.
    Also interesting is no reason is given for Metropolitan Evangelos’ removal. It’s probably a safe bet that many clergy in his metropolis are not at all disappointed by this news.

    • Also, several years ago Patriarch Bartholomew floated the idea of GOA parishes signing over ownership to the patriarchate so he could show the Turkish government he had direct control over a large church. That idea didn’t float, it sank like a lead balloon.

    • George Michalopulos says

      Yannaro, I believe you are quite correct on all the points. Methodius’ insistence on the single spoon is hardly a canonical “transgression”. Note how this happened after the AG of NH threatened Methodius because he wouldn’t go along with the COVID hysteria. I imagine LP can swoop in and “save the day” to “protect” the people of that diocese from a “rigid fundamentalist” like Methodius. This way LP can get brownie points from the secular authorities as well.

  6. The good people of the GOA can easily stop this…with their purse strings. Once Archbishop Elpidophoros (aka Archbishop Sillybones) stops receiving money into the coffers to run things, then the jig is up. And, based on from what I’ve been hearing, money isn’t in great supply at the GOA these days. So, good people of the GOA, stop the money flow! 

  7. This is shocking, as has been numerous major decisions of the EP in the last 3 years.
    Just two years or so ago Met. Evangelos of NJ made an encyclical to be read in his diocese’s churches denouncing Orthodox who “defied” the EP’s decision in Ukraine. The encyclical sticks in my mind as having an authoritarian attitude as if the EP was the head of the whole Orthodox Church and that dissent by Orthodox not under the EP was seen as “defiance”.
    Now the EP has recalled Met. Evangelos with no explanation of why he is really doing that. He appointed him to the Metropolis of Sardis. In case you aren’t aware, Sardis is an archaeological area in Turkey that likely has the physical remains of a Greek church, as it was a famous Christian community 1800 years ago. Today the city(?) has a High School and gas station.
    And the EP is doing this at the same time as he is recalling the Met. of Boston, which makes it look like these two events are related.
    Hopefully you will be able to give some good insight or even speculation as to what is going on, because the EP’s administration is not being transparent about this, as with so many other questionable decisions of the last 2 years.
    The EP announced that the Met. of Boston is being recalled under “Penance” for forbidding multiple spoons. Yet the GOARCH head himself has declared that you can’t get COVID from the Eucharist. So why is allowing multiple spoons so important that forbidding them becomes cause for removal and penance?It would not surprise me if outwardly such Metropolitans were supporting the EP’s decisions and power, whereas secretly they found them upsetting.

    • Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey has been removed (I am unfamiliar with the term “recalled”) and, having been given the Metropolis of Sardis has, for all intents and purposes, been relieved of his duties as a bishop unless he ends up somewhere in a menial position.
      Metropolitan Methodios has been suspended (the Greek word is “argos”) until the end of the year, not removed or “recalled”. How this will be resolved is anyone’s guess (except for the EP and Archbishop Elpidoforos). If, in fact, he has been suspended because of canonical transgressions the issue could be referred to a spiritual court. Now, that would be interesting!

    • Thus is the Scripture fulfilled…
       
      And to the angel of the church in Sardis write,
      ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead…
       
      It’s comforting to know that the Constantinople patriarchate continues to ensure episcopal oversight of such places like Sardis, oceans, and such.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_churches_at_Sardis#/media/File:ChurchM.jpg
       

      • George Michalopulos says

        Well, there’s always a silver lining, even in such a naked power-grab.  As I understand it, the priests of the GOA diocese of NJ are positively leaping for joy.  Word on the street is that Oct 8th will be an annual feast-day:  “The Leave-taking of Metropolitan Evangelos”. 

        • Some of that happening up in New England, too……….

        • What would the clergy be happy about in Met Evans’ removal, specifically? What was he doing to the clergy? I am unaware of the situation.

  8. Wayne M Syvinski says

    Another heaping helping of chillul haShem from the GOA….

  9. George Michalopulos says

    Here’s a whole bunch of inside skinny on the ongoing train wreck that’s happening in the GOA:

    https://concernedorthodoxchristians.wordpress.com/

  10. Gail Sheppard says

    I suspect there is no one to replace Metropolitan Joseph in the west because he is honoring his marriage to his diocese. No one has ever suggested this to me, and Metropolitan Joseph has told others that his consecration as a bishop never happened, but it did and I think he intends to honor his marriage to his diocese for life. – Just my opinion.

    • What do you mean about honoring his marriage to his diocese?
      You are saying that somehow he got consecrated as a bishop after being a metropolitan… What does that have to do with him being “married” to his diocese? 
       
      Sure, Met. Joseph could intend to stay in his diocese…. but certainly the Mets. of Boston and NJ intended to stay as active bishops… Met. Evangelos denounced those Orthodox who disagreed with the EP as being “defiant”… Now he is being designated the metropolitan of Sardis. I don’t know if there is even a mosque in Sart today. They have a high school there…

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Bishop JOSEPH was enthroned at St. Nicholas Cathedral in Los Angeles, California by Metropolitan PHILIP as the Bishop of the Diocese of Los Angeles and the West on September 12, 2004. That’s his diocese.

        Ecclesiastically, you can’t take a consecrated bishop out of his diocese and make him an auxiliary, let alone a whole synod, but that didn’t stop Metropolitan Philip from doing it.

        I can’t address why bishops are transferred at will or eliminated entirely.

        Metropolitan Joseph is a traditional guy. I’m just giving you my opinion on why he still has the west under him.

  11. George Michalopulos says

    Michael, your historical knowledge is invaluable.  And your assessment regarding Bp Basil Essey is spot on.   (I ask the fine people of Wichita to keep him healthy.)

  12. Met. Evangelos was one of the two hierarchs in the US to sign the following document, the other being Met. Nathanael: “Patriarchal and Synodal Tomos for the Bestowal of the Ecclesiastical Status of Autocephaly to the Orthodox Church in Ukraine”.
    (Page 82 here: https://www.archons.org/documents/2170772/4799571/eBook Ukraine FINAL/a64e778b-651e-4a08-baee-4d591a70a651)

    According to Wikipedia, the Tomos was signed by all members of the EP’s Synod. Does this mean that Met. Evangelos was part of the Synod at that time, but not now?