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 It's recently become apparent that the World Orthodoxy is being torn apart by controversy. It is already clear that the Pan-Orthodox Council has become a mere formality and will not bring any significant fruit. Islamic extremists are killing Christians, Islamist authoritarian regimes are threatening freedom of worship for other faiths, taking away their property and even churches.

Against this background, the question of who will be the next Ecumenical Patriarch after His All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew is being raised more and more frequently in private conversations. And His Eminence Metropolitan of Bursa Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) is among the most mentioned possible candidates . Will he be able to take responsibility for the fate of Orthodoxy and to solve the problems facing the Phanar (with God's help)? Let's try to evaluate his chances for election.

Indeed, the Pan-Orthodox Council, which was referred by the Ecumenical Patriarch as a historical event and its main achievement, has been criticized by conservatives as well as by modernists. Of course, the very fact of the meeting is a big step forward, but it is necessary to think about whether we will be able to go further and to revive the tradition of conciliarity in the universal scale. Will next Councils be more meaningful and fruitful? Undoubtedly, Metropolitan Elpidophoros' experience of serving as general secretary of the Holy Synod is priceless, as well as his thorouh familiarity with the hard and elaborate work on finalizing agenda and development of a clear pastoral vision of the most complex theological and ecclesiological issues.

Along with this, the Phanar should restore its teetering authority in relations with heterodox, prove his ability to speak with the rest of the Christian world and to take the initiative. In this context, Metropolitan Elpidophoros' friendly relationship with Catholics and Protestants will help us to avoid any misunderstanding and will be a solid basis for the deepening of the dialogue.

Equally important is the willingness of His Eminence to defend the high canonical position of the EP as primus sine paribus (the first without equals) among other Autocephalous Orthodox Churches. So, an eloquent proof of this willingness is a brilliant theological answer of the Metropolitan of Bursa to the Moscow's criticism and charges of "papism" . After all, only the strong Ecumenical Patriarchate will be able to stop infighting between the Autocephalous Churches, gather disunited Orthodox community of America under its omophorion, unite the Christian World around one Truth , as well as to promote peaceful coexistence and dialogue with other faiths.

Of course, this is also necessary to populate the Phanar with new excellent clergy who share these ideas and are ready to work tirelessly for the unity of Orthodoxy. There is already a lot of such people in Metropolitan Elpidophoros' inner circle. These are the very faithful people who will contribute to the prosperity of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and attract new believers from over the world.

It is also necessary to ensure further succession and the highest level of training of the clergy. Of course, I mean the opening of the seminary at the Holy Trinity Monastery on Halki. And negotiability and comparative youthfulness of His Eminence are his additional trump cards as a possible Patriarch in this issue. Perhaps, these are qualities that will be decisive since they may be helpful in convincing the Turkish authorities that the EP's activity will be predictable for many decades and won't become a threat to Turkey's national interests.

There's a rumor that the very abbot of the Holy Trinity Monastery don't mind to use patriarchal dignity to make educational process here - within the walls that've already become home to him,- finally resumed.

Actually, why not? His Eminence has a rare combination of energy, practical experience, spiritual and theological maturity. I guess he really would be able to protect Orthodoxy and the high position of the Constantinople Patriarchate from all threats and attacks. What do you think about this?


Last update on June 17, 2:53 pm by Καισάριο Χρόνη.

Quite surprising, I've noted this topic being discussed on another Christian forum. A lot of people express their opposition to the "primus sine paribus" idea. But there are speculations that the leadership of Constantinople is urgently needed to counterbalance the influence of Russian patriarch Kirill. "The perspective is clear – without Elpidophoros we’re gonna see Kirill and Putin dominate and manipulate the whole Orthodox church", - some of the users say.

Besides that, there are posts about the Patriarch Bartholome's poor  health. "He’s had Parkinson for many years and in addition now people say he suffers from some kind of oncology. That’s no surprise – remember his look at the opening of the Holy and Great Council! His hands were shaking horribly! That’s why he hurried to hold the Council. Now he obviously needs a successor. There was a good idea to hold Councils every 3-5 years, but who will do that?".

Some other possible candidates who may succeed His All Holiness Bartholomew I as Ecumenical Patriarch are mentioned as well. For example, a supporter of  Bursa Metropolitan wrote:

"One of the first steps for Elpidophoros is to become archbishop of America – that would be a good opportunity to find the right people and effectively organize Patriarchate activities. That’s clear to everybody that only he can do it. Who else? Metropolitan of Pergamon? – We remember him sleeping at the last Holy and Great Council, we see him living in his own imaginary world full of personalism, existentialism and solipsism! Metropolitan Emmanuel? He is weak and unconfident, he can’t demonstrate any opposition and some people say he is corrupt and immoral in personal life!".

However, Met. Emmanuel was also reported to slander Elpidophoros in the face of EP. And even Rev. Dr. John Chryssavgis was said to being restrained from the real decision-making due to his connections with the ambitious Metropolitan of Bursa.

I didn't want to think about all this infighting between members of the episcopacy. It's too disturbing for me. It's seemed to draw us away from saving souls.  But should we be absolutely unaware of such issues as next Ecumenical Patriarch and the future of Orthodox Church in the World while leaving them solely to God?

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