Authentic Transparency and Accountability
November 27, 2019

GOA has a new Auxiliary Bishop

Who is His Grace-Elect, Bishop Joachim of Amissos?

As there has been no transparency from the GOA about the latest episcopal Triprosopon to be developed by the Holy Eparchial Synod, less than an hour ago, the Very Rev. Archimandrite Joachim Cotsonis, PhD was elected by the Holy and Sacred Patriarchal Synod of Constantinople as the new auxiliary bishop of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. Reading through His Grace's biography and C.V. provides a small glimpse into the mystery surrounding Bishop Joachim.

He is a distinguished scholar in the area of Byzantine studies but is not teaching any courses at Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology. The last and only course His Grace taught at Hellenic College was "Introduction to Orthodox Spirituality" in the Fall of 1997. His Grace's last formal teaching position for a full academic year is listed at Christ our Savior Orthodox Seminary in 1996-1997. Afterwards, His Grace was employed as the Director of the Archbishop Iakovos Library. For some reason the administration at HCHC does not want this talented scholar offering any courses in Byzantine studies.

We have also learned that His Grace mostly served as a substitute priest over his tenure as a clergyman. We have been unable to find any record in the GOA Archives that His Grace was ever formally assigned as a Proistamenos to any parish since 1990 (almost 30 years ago).
As one of the few, if not only, Archimandites to be conferred during the era of Archbishop Spyridon, we have learned that His Grace suffered a great deal of backlash and difficulty by many clergymen of the GOA. Many senior ranking clergymen, namely Rev. Dr. Alkiviadis Calivas (former Professor of Liturgics and Past-President of HCHC) and Rev. Dr. Ted Stylianopoulos (former Professor of New Testament studies), allegedly fought very hard to keep His Grace from having any position of spiritual influence at HCHC during the transitional time from Archbishop Spyridon to Archbishop Demetrios.

In 1999, Stylianopoulos and Calivas allegedly used their positions of influence within the GOA to sway the election of the new Archbishop to go towards their good friend and supporter, Archbishop Demetrios, the former of America, who taught at HCHC for 10 years. As a result, our entire Church has been attempting to clean-up the huge mess that the Archdiocese has found itself under His Eminence's leadership because of the alleged wisdom of these two clergymen (look no further than the new arrest made on Monday). It has also been alleged that during this period of transition that many celibates were unfairly criticized and had their reputations and character wrongly tarnished. His Grace was allegedly a target to some of these unchristian attacks.

These alleged attacks by senior ranking clergymen prevented His Grace from being able to serve in front of the Holy Altar at the HCHC Chapel for almost 20 years until 2015 when Father Chris Metropulos became President of HCHC and asked Father Joachim to lead the community in worship.

Why was His Grace elected now?

A couple months ago, Archbishop Elpidophoros named the Very Rev. Archimandrite Athenagoras Ziliaskopoulos as the new Chaplain of HCHC. Father Athenagoras was recently serving in the Metropolis of Toronto for the past two years. Prior to Toronto, he was a priest in the Metropolis of Germany. Father Athenagoras has no prior service in the GOA.

Archbishop Elpidophoros allegedly stated in private meetings that he wanted to have a constant episcopal presence on the campus of HCHC. The Archbishop allegedly was hoping to nominate and elect his good friend, an outsider Archimandrite, to be an auxiliary bishop assigned to HCHC. However, the Metropolitans allegedly had to school Archbishop Elpidophoros about what is actually in the Regulations of the GOA. Archbishop Elpidophoros had to be notified that his original course of action would be in violation of the Regulations because each eligible candidate needs to be on a list approved by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. To be on that list, it requires five years of ordained service within the GOA. Father Athenagoras only has two months.

Facing backlash for attempting to award an episcopal position to one of his friends, the Metropolitans requested that the senior ranking Archimandrite affiliated with the theological school, who has put in many years of service to the Archdiocese, be elevated as a hierarch to fulfill the Archbishop's request.

This new election may not erase the years of alleged spiritual damage caused by the senior clergymen of the GOA, but it certainly provides a new direction for the future clergymen of our Archdiocese that the past administrations have been unwilling to explore.

[ Authentic Transparency and Accountability
   November 27, 2019 ]