Rumors have been circulating for years. Now, once more, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, in a surprise move, leaves his personal mark in just a few days.
Apparently, he “turns the page” on three very important centers, America, Australia and, possibly, Great Britain, electing new Archbishops in an equal number of active jurisdictions.
The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate will hold a three-day meeting at the Phanar in Constantinople starting on May 9. There it is expected to complete the procedures concerning the three Churches: To accept the resignation of Archbishop Demetrios of America, to elect his successor, and prepare the ground for the other two Churches, by promoting administrative divisions (for easier leadership) and electing new archpriests.
The majority of the Greek Orthodox expatriates exerted pressure asking for the replacement of Archbishop Demetrios. In fact, they don’t credit him with the alleged financial irregularities by his environment under his tolerance. Greek expatriates estimate that, due to advanced age, he could not exercise sufficiently his administrative duties and this allowed the mistakes by his surroundings.
Therefore, he should pass the baton to the next generation. For nearly three years, the media press for the replacement of Archbishop Demetrios. However, according to information, Ecumenical Patriarch and Achbishop Demetrios agreed that it was the time for the latter’s resignation, so as not to be inferred that the resignation was under the very shadow of financial issues concerning St. Nikolaos Church in Manhattan. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France stated publicly that he withdrew from the succession.
The most predominant successor is Metropolitan Elpidoforos of Bursa (Prousa) and Abbot of the Holy Trinity Patriarchal Monastery in Halki. Other candidates include Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden (born in Boston), who was elected in this position five years ago, and, least likely to to be elected, Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago, who serves as a pastor at the particular Metropolis for less than a year.
The expatriates in America await that the election of the new Bishop of America shall bring a sense of renewal at the significant center of Orthodoxy in the Western world. The enthronement of the new Archbishop is expected to take place in New York in June, in the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew.
The second most powerful eparchy of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Archdiocese of Australia, is another challenge for Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The passing away of Archbishop Stylianos of Australia, a vigorous personality of Orthodoxy, allows Bartholomew to make some bold changes. At the particular Holy Synod of May, it will be decided whether the Archdiocese of Australia will be divided – which is the most probable scenario. The leadership of the Archdiocese of more than one million Orthodox Christians in this huge country is an issue of concern for the Ecumenical Patriarch.
Bartholomew stated that they would examine closely all possibilities. According to information, a division is the most probable decision, so as to avoid the creation of a powerful center, as in the case of Archbishop Stylianos. If the Archdiocese is not divided, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France is also rumored to be a candidate as the new Archbishop of Australia. However, in the case of the division, it is most probable that the successors will be the members of the Archdiocese of Australia.
The most probable scenario in this case is one and only: the division of this important Archdiocese that constitutes the point of reference that unites hundred thousands of Greek Orthodox Christians in Great Britain. It could be divided in two parts: one Metropolis for Ireland, and the Archdiocese of Thyateira for the rest of Great Britain. Those considered as possible successors of the Archbishop Gregory, whose enthronement took place 31 years ago at the significant Archdiocese of Thyateira and Great Britain, are Metropolitan Nikitas of the Dardanelles, who comes from Florida, USA, and the Bishop Makarios of Christoupolis, who comes from Crete.