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Damage Control in GOARCH: A Fauxpology from Bishop Athenagoras?

Updated: Jan 29

By Subdeacon Nektarios, M.A.

 

Within the last few days, cellphone recorded video from a visitor at Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery in Florence, Arizona, captured what seems to be a pre-scripted, damage control apology from Bishop Athenagoras for his recent Ecumenist activity that was uncovered in which he prayed with pagan Hindus at their temple in a joint prayer service which the temple entitled, “Interfaith Harmony Day.”

This speech comes on the tail end of internet reports from Orthodox Traditionalist Publications, Helleniscope, and other outlets. This event took place in October of 2023 and was only recently discovered and made public last week, with the Orthodox community for the most part being outraged because of this bishop’s violation of the Apostolic Canons and Canons of Laodicea which require his deposition as an Orthodox hierarch or at minimum excommunication for a time.


In this pre-scripted apology in which Bishop Athenagoras takes a piece of paper out of his pocket and reads from it, he states that what he did was a mistake and that he thought he was being obedient, that he did not volunteer to go but rather he was told to go. This gives us some insight into the inner workings of the Greek Archdiocese hierarchy that there is a form of papalism in which supposed co-equal bishops are obedient to another; this one namely being obedient to Archbishop Elpidophoros.

What is interesting about this apology is the timing. The apology comes on the heels of a major scandal  with clear irrefutable evidence of a canonical violation in which this bishop received no canonical reprimand from the Greek Archdiocese but the question has to be asked, why now? It has been reported that Bishop Athenagoras recently made a trip and served at Saint Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery as recently as of December 2023, but did not apologize for his visit to the pagan Hindu temple then and to our knowledge made no mention of it, until the scandal had already broken just a few days ago.


In the video he states that he did not volunteer but was told to go and in the same sentence says that before he agreed to go, he made sure that there would be no common prayer at an event that was labeled as “Interfaith Harmony Day,” which he knew was going to be held at a pagan Hindu temple.  In the apology, he states that this interfaith prayer happened days before the actual consecration, which in my last article I confirmed is factual. However, as we can see from the previous article we published with the videos and photos, regardless if this was not the official temple, these Hindu worshippers created another temple-like structure that Bishop Athenagoras himself sat underneath, complete with Hindu “deities” as well as a room filled with Hindu Brahman priests praying their prayers in the very visible presence of Bishop Athenagoras.


Bishop Athenagoras then states to the crowd of listeners at Saint Anthony’s Monastery that this is something that he does not want to participate in again. However, we have to ask ourself if this is true, why was it reported by the Orthodox Times, that Bishop Athenagoras, in another act of interfaith dialog and Ecumenism, met with the Armenian Monophysite bishops shortly after old calendar Christmas with Archbishop Elpidophoros in New York?


As we can see there are a lot of inconsistencies in this statement. It comes at an interesting time when he only decides to make this apology after a public scandal has already broken out. He had already visited Saint Anthony’s and liturgized in December, two months after violating the apostolic canons and praying with Hindus, after which there was no sign of apology or repentance; and then in early January in another public ecumenist event, this time with Archbishop Elpidophoros, Bishop Athenagoras meets and participates in another ecumenist event with Armenian Monophysites. Only then, does he claim ignorance of what he was doing, as well as claiming being blindly obedient to Archbishop Elpidophoros for being forced to go but yet in the same statement saying that he agreed to go?

Another critical question that needs to be asked is why the canons for such an egregious act were not enforced by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Why was this bishop not deposed for his public violation of Apostolic Canon 45 which states, “Let a bishop, presbyter, or deacon, who has only prayed with heretics, be excommunicated: but if he has permitted them to perform any clerical office, let him be deposed” [1] and Apostolic Canon 64 which states, “If any clergyman or layman shall enter into a synagogue of Jews or heretics to pray, let the former be deposed and let the latter be excommunicated” [2] as well as violation of Canon 33 of Laodicea which states, “No one shall join in prayers with heretics or schismatics” [3].


As Orthodox Christians we all hope that this semi-public apology was genuine and that this bishop is truly repentant for the grave sin of entering a demonic temple and praying alongside their demonic gods. However, with the track record of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, under the leadership of the well-known Arch-heresiarch Elpidophoros and his puppet master in Istanbul, we all with good reason have our reservations.



 

References


[1]. The Canons of the Holy and Altogether August Apostles, “Canon XLV,” in Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 14, ed. Philip Schaff & Henry Wace (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 597.

 

[2]. Ibid., 598

 

[3]. The Canons of the Synod Held in the City of Laodicese, “Canon XXXIII,” in Nicene & Post-Nicene Fathers, Volume 14, ed. Philip Schaff & Henry Wace (Peabody: Hendrickson Publications, 1999), 150.



















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