Monday, May 13, 2019

Jad Ganem: An Election Resembling an Appointment

Arabic original here.

An Election Resembling an Appointment

This past Saturday, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople elected Metropolitan Elpidophoros of Bursa, abbot of the Monastery of Chalki, as archbishop of Constantinople's Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in America. This comes after accepting the resignation of Archbishop Demetrios, who had been elected to the position almost twenty years ago to succeed Archbishop Spiridon, who had been imposed on this archdiocese by Constantinople after the resignation of Archbishop Iakovos, and who resigned after disagreements and a crisis of trust between him and members of this archdiocese.

Metropolitan Elpidophoros' election confirms the information circulated by sources close to the Patriarchate of Constantinople in recent years, which indicated His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew's desire to see this metropolitan at the head of the Patriarchate of Constantinople's largest and richest diocese.

What was noteworthy in this election, however, is the Synod of Constantinople's total inattention to the opinion of the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council, which requested in an official letter following its recent meeting, that Patriarch Bartholomew:

    --delay the election until the next meeting of the Synod, which would give the archdiocese the opportunity, over a period of thirty days, to conduct the necessary consultations in order to provide the Holy Synod of Constantinople with a list of five candidates, as stipulated by the charter in force in the archdiocese.

    -- appoint during this period the most senior bishop according to ordination on the Holy Eparchial Synod as locum tenens for the archdiocese.

    -- that the Holy Synod of Constantinople give the list of five candidates that the archdiocese provides the importance that it merits in the process of election.

    -- that during the process of election, the Holy Synod give the necessary attention to bishops present in the archdiocese who have served it with dedication over the years.
The Archdiocesan Council in America attempted to raise its voice in the face of the issue of a canned election and the imposition of a bishop on the largest Greek diocese in the world, whose members live in a country that respects democratic principles and values the opinions and desires of its citizens. But the Ottoman mentality that characterizes the practice of Constantinople in our day precluded paying any heed to the opinion of members of the archdiocese, even pro forma. It is as though Constantinople has not learned from its previous experience that this sort of election sets the stage for crises and turmoil within the diocese and weakens the bishop-elect even before he takes the reigns of his diocese, as is shown by the experience of the Archdiocese of America twenty years ago or the experience of the Archdiocese of Russian Orthodox Churches in Western Europe in recent years.

Hope remains that the Greek Archdiocese in America will be able to overcome the challenges of this election that resembles an appointment, that the new bishop will be able to overcome the theory of 'first without equals' and the logic of rigid authority, and that he will be able to bear witness to Orthodox conciliarity in all its dimensions in the New World which exalts the values of dialogue, openness, freedom and democracy.

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