Has Bartholomew’s Sunflower Gone to Seed?

It’s been four years since Elpidophoros Lambrianides, the Metropolitan of Bursa, was selected by Patriarch Bartholomew to take over the primacy of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese here in the United States.

It hasn’t been a smooth ride, to say the least. 

To be sure, being the Archbishop of the GOA has never been an easy job.  Unfortunately, one of the things that make it such a precarious position is that the support from this present Ecumenical Patriarch has never been that constant.

We all know the names of archbishops that have been undermined by Patriarch Bartholomew:  Iakovos, then Spyridon, and more recently, Demetrius.  Getting rid of them was usually a long and tortuous process but in the end, they were all shown the door, one way or the other.  

Based on all the recent developments in the geopolitical sphere, one has to ask if Elpidophoros is next in line to be unceremoniously dumped.

Now, this may sound shocking to many of you reading these words.  After all, four years ago, the level of sycophantic bromides that emanated from Archbishop Elpidophoros’ mouth were positively embarrassing.  The one that stuck in my craw was “sunflower,” as in Bartholomew was the “sun” while Elpidophoros was the “sunflower”  that never averted its eyes from that magnificent, life-giving orb as it made its daily trek across the heavens. 

That was then; things are different now.  

As was recently reported by Byzantine Texas, the Charter debacle only appears to be getting worse.  For some mysterious reason, the patriarch, the metropolitans, and the archbishop cannot seem to reach an agreement even though they’ve had plenty of time to come up with one.  http://byztex.blogspot.com/ 

The fact that the GOA is presently operating without a Charter leaves all of its assets –including its parishes– vulnerable to civil actions but that is a story for another day.

To add insult to injury, our friends at Helleniscope brought to our attention an interview with a former professor of his, Professor Despo Lialiou of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, who apparently gave the archbishop an F for intellectual/theological acuity.   https://www.helleniscope.com/2023/04/27/why-does-the-archbishop-provide-proof-of-his-intelligence-ties-now/

We can hardly blame her, as Gail and I reached the same conclusion following his ridiculous foray into marching with Black Lives Matter, the multiple spoon controversy and the notorious gay baptism debacle (among others), but from what Lialiou intimates, barring her from his enthronement back in 2019 and calling her “a decrepit old woman” on top of that, really is stupid.  In fact, he appears to be so irrelevant to his alma mater, that no one else stood up for him or had anything to say about him one way or the other.  

What did Oscar Wilde say?  “There’s only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”  

Well, she’s talking and she has as much to say about Bartholomew as she does about Elpidophoros.  She loves the former.  The latter?  Not so much.  In fact she loves Bartholomew so much, we wonder if he might have put her up to doing this interview after being silent for so many years.  https://www.exapsalmos.gr/i-kathigitria-despo-lialiou-perigrafei-ston-e-k-ton-archiepiskopo-elpidoforo-olokliri-i-synentefksi/

To be truthful, when we read that report on the Charter, we had to wonder why Bartholomew turned on Elpidophoros, who as far as we can tell, has carried major water for him.  Actually, “stunned” would be a more accurate word.  Is it because Bartholomew feels he was let down by all the unnecessary scandals?  Or is it because he felt that Elpidophoros was in the process of betraying him?  (And where in this process can we find the fingerprints of Fr Alex Karloutsos, Bartholomew’s eyes and ears in America?)

This last assertion is a harsh one but I did not arrive at it by grasping at straws.  Consider for example the archbishop’s most recent speaking engagement at the National Intelligence University.  This invitation was a striking turn of events as no Orthodox bishop in America has ever been invited to address this esteemed institution.  https://www.thenationalherald.com/archbishop-addresses-u-s-intelligence-community-at-national-intelligence-university/ 

The American intel community may have had their own reasons for inviting the archbishop, given the failure of their Ukrainian misadventure.  Perhaps he was a prop, an “American” Orthodox bishop, as opposed to those evil Russian bishops who are blessing the Russian expeditionary force in Ukraine.  The old divide-and-conquer strategy so to speak. 

On the other hand, let us look at this from Patriarch Bartholomew’s perspective:  nowhere has his irrelevance been exposed as much as it has by his own Ukrainian gambit.  Not only has his effort to “heal the schism” of the Ukrainian Church failed utterly, he has not been able to bring along all the other local Orthodox Churches.  To put not too fine a point on it, his efforts to highlight his role as the “Eastern Pope” has been exposed as the delusional fraud it always was.  In other words, his usefulness as far as the globalists’ agenda is concerned, has now come to an end. 

Given the precarious position of Bartholomew in Istanbul, he really doesn’t have the latitude to take anything for granted.  Especially since the Turkish political situation is anything but stable; now more so with President Erdogan playing his own double game between NATO and the Kremlin, the consequences of which have not gone unnoticed.  First a major earthquake blamed on the West and now Erdogan suffering a physical setback weeks before an election.  https://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2023/apr/27/serious-stomach-flu-turkeys-president-erdogan-taken-ill-on-live-tv-video

Things are really heating up in Turkey.  After completing multiple rallies, Erdogan hastily exited an American interview due to the “stomach flu.”  For some reason, this caused Putin to make his own hasty trip to the Kremlin. 

Things were so critical that his family was called to the hospital.  Rumors abounded that not only was Erdogan poisoned but perhaps his family was in danger as well. 

None of this speculation is outlandish when you consider that in 2016, elements the Turkish Army staged a coup against Erdogan, from which he was only able to extricate himself with Russia’s help.  The plotters came very close to assassinating Erdogan.  In the aftermath, it was revealed that Fethullah Gulen, a Turkish magnate living in Pennsylvania, had a hand in this.   

Gulen, being a long-time friend of the Ecumenical Patriarch’s, caused many in the Erdogan administration to question the latter’s possible involvement as well.  This nervousness on behalf of the Phanar extended to Russia, especially since it was the Kremlin that pulled Erdogan’s fat out of the fire.  Ever since that day, Russia and Turkey have only grown closer, with disastrous results for NATO. 

As for Gulen?  In 2022, U.S. Senate candidate for Pennsylvania Dr Mehmet Oz said to the Washington Post, “Gulen cannot be touched. There are no credible allegations that he was involved in the coup.  He will stay in Pennsylvania.”

All things being equal, Patriarch Bartholomew has ample reason to fear for his own stability –and not only from Turkey.  It wouldn’t be that hard to imagine a scenario where an up-and-coming metropolitan (to the outside world) could be viewed by Bartholomew as a threat, especially if the State Department viewed him as the asset Bartholomew should have been but failed to be. 

In the final analysis, Bartholomew has a weak hand to play.  If Elpidophoros has turned on him, resurrecting an old academic record and painting it in the worst possible light may have be the last card he has left to protect his throne.  

Although it wouldn’t be the first time Bartholomew has undermined an archbishop of the GOA, it may be the first time an archbishop in the GOA has tried to undermine Bartholomew which is something one must consider given Elpidophoros’ sudden interest in U.S. Intelligence. 

Elpidophoros speaking in front of the the US intelligence community’s premier academic institution, with faculty and students from all 18 agencies of the intelligence community (including the CIA, NSA, FBI, et al) as well as all branches of the US armed forces on Ukraine and Russia defies imagination.   That and someone with purportedly little intellectual acuity writing a book on Russia’s weaponization of religion in the invasion of Ukraine to “deepen the understanding in the US national security community” defies all credible logic.   

There is no question Elpidophoros is grabbing the limelight.  The question becomes how far would Elpidophoros go to move his boss aside and for what reason?   I think we have our answer. . . 

Elpidophoros is Plan B for the State Department.  





  1. How precarious is Patriarch Bartholomew’s position? Some of the Archons are putting out a desperate petition to “Liberate Esphigmenou Monastery.”

    It has all the boilerplate talking points.

    Bottom line: Athos is very perturbed by his many uncanonical actions.

  2. Is E also on the payroll?

  3. George P. says

    If marching in support of Marxist BLM was not enough, or blessing Joe Biden’s campaign at the Democrat convention while skipping the Republican convention, if attacking our faith by pushing the multiple spoons & vaccines and demanding priests wear protestant collars & suit jackets instead of the rassa, if these and all the other actions that he has taken these past years as Archbishop do not wake us up, then perhaps his appearance before the CIA and other government agencies should be enough to strike terror in the heart of every faithful Orthodox Christian. Enough is enough, we need Christ-centered hierarchs and clergy now more than ever to lead our Church with humility and God’ grace!

  4. Whew! “Elpidophoros is Plan B for the State Department.”
    The plot thickens!

  5. Gen Corr says

    Maybe it’s time for Monomakhos to look into the case of former FOX News producer Jack Hanick? A likely overreach of US sanctions?

  6. We will only get Christ centered clergy if we raise up Christ centered laity.

    I realize that this seems like an endless circle.

    However one priest can only do so much. A congregation of educated, dedicated and faithful laity so much more.

  7. Reading through Ezekiel these days. He is prophesying about the downfall of several nations and city stay and how they are left in ruins and the slain are in the Pit.
    Ar the end of each prophecy God declares, “Then toy will know that I am the Lord God.”

    Apparently God acts upon the theory that He has to take everything away from us before we realize that He is Lord.

    Any other ideas?

  8. Johannes says

    I feel stupid for having taken so long to think of this, but the principle of bureaucratic success is making your boss’ boss happy. If Archbishop Elpiphodoros is assuming that the State Department is His All-Holiness’ boss, his actions since arriving make much more sense.

  9. https://open.substack.com/pub/worldwarnow/p/wwn-ep-29-moscow-attacked-turkish?utm_source=direct&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

    David Erhan, who is a Turkish Orthodox Christian living in Istanbul, has an interesting take starting around minute 44 regarding the EP, the OCU, and other Church-related topics.

    Really interesting listen.

  10. This article is from a European news site from 2018 when Elpi was about to be appointed archbishop of America. It predicted he would introduce the LGBTQ agenda to the GOA. It also says north America is just a stepping stone for the position of patriarch. One thing I do find odd is this article speculates he will move the EP to America:

    • RE: “It also says north America is just a stepping stone for the position of patriarch.”

      This is interesting because of something Petros posted earlier today about Turkish government and how they’re saying they will be opening Halki. The curriculum will be the same as the curriculum in other Turkey schools, which kind of defeat the whole purpose of opening Halki to produce more bishops, as the mandatory religion classes in Turkey’s school curriculum are Islam.

      They are also referring to the patriarchate as the “Ecumenical Patriarchate” for the first time, as opposed to the Greek Patriarchate. They may be thinking of leveraging the Ecumenical Patriarchate making it into some some kind of “global institution.”

      Yet another reason the Ecumenical Patriarchate should be shut down immediately, especially if Elpi is on the short list from taking over as patriarch in absentia (i.e. here in America).

      • Never thought of it this way. But back on 7/2018 when the article was written I wouldn’t think I’d see a gay couples baptism. Either that or Monomakhos has prophetic insight as that article posts a link to a Monomakhos article on Met Kallistos Ware from who knows when.
        That’s interesting about Turkey referring to it as the Ecumenical Patriarch and possibly having Elpi appointed in absentia

      • Yet another reason the Ecumenical Patriarchate should be shut down immediately, especially if Elpi is on the short list from taking over as patriarch in absentia (i.e. here in America).

        I agree, whatever stipulation the Turkish government would put on the EP is not worth it. I’m sure there is a reason God has not allowed Halki to be re-opened even though the EP has said it will meet those stipulations

      • What thing I wish David would have expanded on more that he was pretty adamant about was that the EP is afraid of the Turkish government.

        If Erdogan wins this election I wonder if that spells the end of the EP? Maybe he is waiting to pounce to make sure he gets re-elected. If his opponent wins, who is very much pro-Western, I unfortunately think it will embolden the EP and things will get worse for Orthodoxy

    • Thank you for posting this, Kosta.