Abp. Elpidophoros gave his keynote address on the Fourth of July at the Clergy/Laity Congress in New York. He spoke on the centennial of the organization of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Having listened to the archbishop’s keynote address, I am reminded of three things about the GOA, of which I myself was a part until the end of 2021.
- The archdiocese is still, even today, an EPARCHY. In other words, it is a colony of a Byzantine Empire in the imaginations of the leadership. The presupposition is that primary fealty is still due Constantinople, a whole century since the GOA’s organization. How can such imperialistic thinking jive with the American spirit of independence, celebrating its 246 birthday on the day of the archbishop’s address?
- The ethos of the archdiocese is still, even today, HELLENIC and therefore narrowly ethnic. The archbishop placed emphasis on GREEK classical and theological education, with the hope for linguistic instruction. Although that mentality works to preserve the particular legacy of the GOA, it lacks a broader vision for the evangelization of all of our American people. Unless they see boatloads of Greek immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, there is little hope for the sustainability for such a narrow mindset. If Orthodoxy is to survive and thrive in these united States, our leaders just have to drop the emphasis on ethnic legacies and focus on the essentials.
- MONEY is never not mentioned. The archdiocese is always asking for money, or thanking people for money, whether it’s for the Hellenic College and Holy Cross seminary, or for St. Nicholas’ Shrine, or for the Clergy Pension Fund or for the Ecumenical Patriarchate, GOA’s hand is never withdrawn. This is a subtle indication of a Greek preoccupation with money, a decline in stewardship giving and of fiscal malfeasance at high levels. God hasten the day when the Church can once again say with St. Peter the Apostle, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”