Responses of Bishop Elpidophoros to the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops

BOSTON — Archbishop Elpidophoros of America launched a counterattack against the United States Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops with a letter dated June 29, 2022. Elpidophoros responded to the Assembly’s June 27, 2022 letter regarding the election to the episcopate of Archimandrite Alexander Belya, Archiepiscopal Vicar of the Slavic Orthodox Vicariate, an action which jeopardized the unity of Orthodoxy in America.

The Assembly’s letter was revealed on June 27, 2022 by the Greek and English electronic editions of the National Herald.

The Bishops essentially notified Archbishop Elpidophoros that their communion might be interrupted, as in their letter they stated, “Some of us have explained to you that it is impossible for us to concelebrate with him and the Vicariate. Naturally, then, we cannot continue to participate in the assembly itself if this man is elevated to the bishopric and thus becomes a member of the assembly. With great sadness, we must question our ability to continue our in-person meetings and precious concelebrations. »

Archbishop Elpidophoros, in his letter to Metropolitan Joseph of the Christian Orthodox Archdiocese of Antioch of America, Vice President of the Assembly of Bishops, states among other things that “as you may recall, I had announced the recent election of His Grace Bishop-elect Alexander Belya of Nicopolis by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, as well as his upcoming ordination at our last Assembly Executive Committee meeting on June 16, 2022, and no one did not say or express any concerns or opposition at the time.

The full letter from Bishop Elpidophoros to the Assembly of Bishops follows:

June 29, 2022

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph

Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of Antioch

358 Mountain Road,

Box 5238

Englewood New Jersey 07631-5238

Your Eminence,

I warmly greet you with a greeting of peace and love in our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ.

It is with great sadness and some surprise that I received your letter dated June 27, 2022. As you may recall, I had announced the recent election of His Grace Bishop-elect Alexandre Belya of Nicopolis by the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. , as well as his upcoming ordination, at our last meeting of the Assembly Executive Committee on June 16, 2022, and no one said anything or expressed concern or opposition at the time.

The Assembly of Bishops is a unique place where Orthodox unity is encouraged. In the 2020 Vision document, we all emphasized that: “We commit ourselves to keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3) by adhering to the principles of canonical order, liturgical concelebration and pastoral cooperation on all levels of the life of our Church. However, our work towards unity depends on our ability to preserve our independence, as our statutes suggest: “The decisions of the Assembly shall not interfere with the responsibility of each bishop for his eparchial jurisdiction, nor restrict the rights of his Church…” (Statutes, section 1.5) The same prescription was also repeated in the decision of the Holy and Great Council of Crete (2016) on “The Orthodox Diaspora”. Thus, the decisions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to authorize the establishment of a Slavic Orthodox Vicariate in America and to elect His Grace Bishop-elect Alexander Belya of Nicopolis adhere to the same rule that applies to other Orthodox Churches in the country with vicariates or ethnic dioceses. . In light of the above, even the use of Assembly stationery for your correspondence could be considered inappropriate and contrary to the mission of the Assembly.

Dear Brother, I have always been completely transparent with you and all of our Brother Hierarchs regarding the incardination and recent election of His Grace Bishop-Elect Alexander Belya of Nicopolis. I have heard your concerns, however, having received all necessary documentation, including a valid letter of release from the late Metropolitan Hilarion, and in the absence of hard evidence of misconduct, based on our very careful due diligence process – and not on rumors – his canonical incardination has been processed.

Also, I have never received any correspondence from our beloved brother, the late Metropolitan Hilarion, of blessed memory, of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) regarding issues with the Reverend V. Archimandrite Alexander Belya . In comparable circumstances, I have always favored direct contact and an open line of communication, just as we have had many opportunities to work together in the past. On the contrary, the Patriarchate of Moscow and ROCOR have decided to withdraw from their participation in the work and life of the Assembly of Bishops on the jurisdictional situation in Ukraine. I had hoped that the current war and the unjust aggression of the Russian Federation in Ukraine would have created a sense of solidarity and justice among us and would have recommitted us all to Orthodox unity in America. Unfortunately, we have witnessed the opposite effect, so that many of our brothers have been unable to condemn the cruelty of this unjust and illegal war, and even worse, have sought to prevent the Assembly from denouncing these horrible actions and antichristian.

Your Eminence, Orthodox unity is a vital priority of my ministry in this country and the Assembly is the essential vehicle for that unity. The many accomplishments of the past few years, the spirit of brotherly synergy and collaboration that have brought us together during the time of the pandemic, and the diverse missions through the agencies and organizations that rely on the Assembly for auspices should be our priority. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the Assembly continues its work, and I fervently pray that you will support your commitment to this mission, for our witness in America is so needed.

Praying for the Lord of mercy and compassion to inspire us to walk the path of deeper communion together, unity being our ultimate witness to the sacrificial love of Christ, I remain,

With brotherly love in Christ,

ELPIDOPHOROS Archbishop of America

Comments are closed.