Archbishop Elpidophoros of America has given an important interview to the Athenian newspaper “Ta Nea” and journalist Michalis Mitsos, addressing a range of topics encompassing the Church and wider current affairs.
His presence alongside Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, particularly at a time when the latter publicly stated that he would consider the possibility of the children of same-sex couples being baptized when they decided to do so autonomously at adulthood, has sparked considerable debate over whether Archbishop Elpidophoros aligns with the perspective of the Primate of the Church of Greece.
“We cannot examine with a magnifying glass how a child came into the world”
In this regard, the Archbishop of America declared: “I do not have this capacity which would allow me to agree or disagree with the Archbishop of Athens. In our Church, there are no obstacles for a child, whatever their background. We cannot scrutinize how a child was conceived and how he came into the world.
Our role is to ensure legitimacy. We must ensure that those who have custody of that child, whether biological parents or legal guardians, give consent to baptism. This is the legal aspect. From the Church’s point of view, it is essential to have an Orthodox godfather who vouches for the child’s Orthodox education. Parents cannot subject their own Orthodox devotion to evaluation and then decide whether or not the child should be baptized. This is the task of the sponsor. Thus, if these two conditions are met, there is neither church nor legal obstacle to the baptism of a child. This is what I did in 2022.”
“No serious archbishop will abandon or delegate his responsibilities to a media”
Regarding its relations with the Greek diaspora, Archbishop Elpidophoros of America emphasized: “Individuals who view the Greek diaspora from Athens’ perspective may be influenced by specific media outlets that attempt to shape this perception. However, when you live in the United States and talk to the institutions that operate there, you have a completely different perspective. AHEPA, one of the most well-connected and established Greek diaspora organizations in the United States, disagrees with the notion that I am causing division within the Greek-American community . Neither does the Greek Orthodox Society of Ladies Philoptochos, a very powerful and representative American organization. Those who are trying to sow division within the Greek diaspora are those who would like the archbishop to do as they say. However, no serious archbishop can renounce or delegate his responsibilities to a media that aspires to exert influence on the affairs of the diaspora to once again collect the price from Greece.
On relations with Turkey: “Well, certainly not a spy!” »
Archbishop Elpidophoros also addressed the criticism leveled at him, alleging that he maintains “excessively friendly positions with Turkey.” Some even go so far as to suggest that he would do so to secure the position of patriarch after the death of the current holder of the position, and some even accuse him of being a spy for Turkey.
“Well, definitely not a spy!” I’m not anyone’s spy. I am a person of the Church, I am a child of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and I was born and raised in Constantinople. I believe I have become the target of a mentality that casts suspicion on any Greek who was not born and does not reside in Greece. This mentality has existed since the independence of the Greek state.
We have experienced it in Constantinople for so many years, where we truly feel caught between two mentalities. On the one hand, Turkey considers us as potential spies for Greece and potential traitors to Turkey, and on the other hand, some extremist circles in Greece perceive us as Turkish speakers. Greece often hurts us, but that is no reason to turn to the other side. Never. Blood is thicker than water.”
“There was an attempt to damage my relations with the Prime Minister”
The Archbishop of America answered the journalist’s question: whether he maintains good relations with the Prime Minister and the government.
“I have always had and continue to have excellent relations with the Prime Minister and his family. Considerable effort was made to undermine this relationship which, in my opinion, ultimately failed and fell apart. This left a trace of bitterness, but this bitterness does not concern the Prime Minister. It is simply a lingering taste of disappointment, recognizing that some individuals attempted to undermine a long-standing friendship that was genuine, sincere, and devoid of personal gain. Because we both serve the nation from different relationships.