The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America is “the natural leadership of the Greek-American lobby” and is “prepared to move in any direction in cooperation with Greece and Cyprus to support the interests of the homeland and the nation,” Archbishop Elpidophoros said in an interview on the first anniversary of his enthronement on Monday.
Tension with Turkey is not something that the Greeks are trying to encourage, but avoid, said Elpidophoros. However, he added, “this does not mean that we will back down over issues that are considered a red line for Hellenism. That we are in favor of peace does not mean that we are cowards or less brave when needed.”
Speaking of the increasingly aggressive rhetoric emanating from Ankara in recent months, the former metropolitan bishop of the northwestern Turkish city of Bursa warned that it “creates a climate, an atmosphere of increased risk of a conflagration and the likelihood of an aggressive, hostile or violent act.”
Elpidophoros, who was born in Istanbul in 1967, also suggested that the Archdiocese of America would be prepared to use its influence in Washington if that became necessary, vis-a-vis Turkey.
“We have never found the White House doors closed when it has been necessary to pass on messages or discuss important issues,” he said.
“The Greek Americans are respected by all political parties, governments and presidents, and this is what gives us power,” Elpidophoros said.
Referring to the Istanbul-based Patriarchate and the need to maintain a balance in relations with Turkey, Elpidophoros said that the Patriarchate is governed by a spirit of self-sacrifice rather than self-protection. “Every action of the Patriarchate and the Archdiocese is aimed at maintaining peace. Peace is in everyone’s interest,” he said.