In a strong rebuke to the authority of the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of America, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey sent a letter to his priests accusing the Archdiocese of “wrongful and uncanonical” communications.
The letter was obtained by The Pappas Post from 4 different priests who received it from the email address of Deacon Bartholomew Mercado, a deacon to Metropolitan Evangelos.
Evangelos blasts the Archdiocese and the authority of Archbishop Elpidophoros of America and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, who an hour earlier had issued a nationwide directive to all churches to continue services behind locked doors. Elpidophoros made the directive in order to protect faithful from the spread of coronavirus.
The letter from the Archdiocese came as a result of a chaotic response from the various United States’ Greek Orthodox Metropolises.
Other Metropolises gave different instructions to faithful and priests, creating a sense of confusion as news spread across the nation.
“People are angry,” a New Jersey priest told The Pappas Post, requesting anonymity for fear of recrimination from Metropolitan Evangelos. “I am angry. We are in a global pandemic. People might die. We need leadership from our Church leaders and they have failed. Failed. Instead of leadership, we have a power struggle and each one is trying to prove they have a taller mitre and a longer pateritsa,” referring to the ornate staff carried by bishops.
Evangelos’ letter to his priests commands them to ignore the directives of the Archdiocese and only follow his.
“The only directives to which you will put into effect on a Parish level, will be those which are communicated by myself, your Metropolitan,” the letter stated.
The issue raises questions of authority, structure and canonical jurisdiction of the Church in America and what authority the Archdiocese has over the eight Metropolises in the United States.
Metropolitan Evangelos’ letter emailed to clergy of the Metropolis of New Jersey is here.
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