January 11, 2024

The Visit of Archbishop Elpidophoros to Mount Athos: What the Athonites Are Really Saying and What Will Happen

By Maria Ritzaleou
January 4, 2024

A multi-day visit to Mount Athos and Thessaloniki will be made by the Archbishop of America, Elpidophoros, from January 18, as the head of a large delegation of 40 Greek-American businessmen.

The arrival of Elpidophoros disturbed the Athonite State and their concern was conveyed through the Holy Community, in writing, to the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

This primarily has to do with the baptism of a child of a same-sex couple by Elpidophoros, specifically of the child of a couple of expatriate businessmen on July 9, 2022 at the Church of Panagia Faneromeni in the Metropolis of Voula.

"We regret to have found, through the published photographs of the Archbishop of America, after the end of the mystery, a wrong impression was created regarding the acceptance by the Church of the mystery of marriage by individuals of the same sex, a message contrary to the doctrines and teaching of the Orthodox Church. This event, contrary to the gospel teaching, provokes the intense concern of our Holy Community.

Therefore, Your All-Holiness, we beg you filially, that you lend a listening ear to our concern on the extremely sensitive subject, which concerns the integrity of our faith and orthodox traditions," it is stated in a letter of the Holy Community to the Ecumenical Patriarch Mr. Bartholomew.

The Visit of Elpidophoros to Mount Athos

In mid-December 2023, the Patriarch sent a letter of recommendation to the 20 Monasteries, i.e. a letter informing the abbots of the arrival of the Archbishop of America, and the Holy Community sent its reply.

"We did not say that he is unwelcome, as it is wrongly being circulated. We accept people who belong to other religions, can we deny entry to a hierarch and even the Archbishop of America? We simply expressed our concern about that specific action, but in no way did we ask the Patriarch to tell him not to come," sources from Mount Athos told Voria, estimating that the relevant information is being circulated on the other side of the Atlantic.

As Voria is informed, Mr. Elpidophoros and his entourage, together with the group of businessmen, will arrive on Mount Athos on January 18, while the program of their presence has not yet been finalized. The visit is expected to last 5-6 days and it is considered certain that they will visit the Monasteries of Vatopaidi, Dionysiou and Simonos Petras, while upon the arrival of the mission they will be welcomed by the Sacred Supervisory at the Sacred Community Hall in Karyes.

The Program for Thessaloniki

After Mount Athos, Mr. Elpidophoros will be in Thessaloniki, where the Greek-Americans who will accompany him will have contacts and meetings with the city's business community.

On the last weekend of January, the Archbishop of America will attend the commemorations for Holocaust Remembrance Day, perhaps the blackest page in the history of Europe in the 20th century. January 27th has been established as Remembrance Day and around the world events are held under the slogan "Never Forget".

In Thessaloniki, on Sunday January 28 in the morning, there will be a memorial service and laying of wreaths, in the presence of the Archbishop of America, while political and local government officials will address a greeting. In the afternoon, Mr. Elpidophoros will be the speaker at the main event that will take place in the Ceremony Hall of the University of Athens, and is organized by the Israelite Community of Thessaloniki, the Region of Central Macedonia, etc.

In addition, during his stay in Thessaloniki, the Archbishop of America will ordain a new priest from Mexico, who will be assigned to the Church of the Transfiguration of the Savior in Corona, New York. The temple reopens from September 2021 after 4 years of restoration and other works were needed, following the devastating fire that incinerated its interior.

It is noted that the ordination of the new priest will not take place in New York, as the American authorities did not grant visas to his relatives, who cannot travel there.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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