Ephraim Plans to Break Up the Archdiocese (Theodore Kalmoukos, 1991)

Reprinted from the National Herald, Wednesday, April 17, 1991

[Boston] Following almost two years from the day that our newspaper uncovered (N.H. 6-5/6-89) the “extra ecclesiastical and improper” movements and activities of the Mt. Athos monk Ephraim to the Omogeneia* which, among others, include groups of extra-ecclesiastical organizations, purchase of property, in specific at the location “Poconos” of Pennsylvania with intent to establish monasteries, confessions at people’s homes, etc., we uncover today that the monk Ephraim resigned from the position of abbot in the Philotheou monastery of Mt. Athos and has united with the Russian “church” of America. This “church” is considered “non-existent” to the Ecumenical Orthodoxy, that is, it does not have any blessed society or any relation to the Orthodox Patriarchate and the self-sustained churches. That’s why nowhere is it referenced basically because it is considered divisive.

"Bishop" Ilarion confirmed our information that monk Ephraim on March 4 signed the agreement with that church and now belongs to their "jurisdiction."
“Bishop” Ilarion confirmed our information that monk Ephraim on March 4 signed the agreement with that church and now belongs to their “jurisdiction.”

After communicating with the representative of the “church” in question, “bishop” Mr. Ilarion confirmed our information that monk Ephraim on March 4 signed the agreement with that church and now belongs to their “jurisdiction.” In addition, Ilarion stated that a few days ago he informed by letter the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The N.H. is in a position and knows that up to the point that this article is written, that is, Tuesday, April 18, that letter has not reached the Patriarchate, but the Patriarchate knows of the situation. In accordance always with the “bishop” Mr. Ilarion, the monk Ephraim at this moment is in Greece and is expected to return to America in the next few weeks. His purpose is to establish monasteries, something that Mr. Ilarion confirmed, and in addition, in cities with organized Greek communities, such as is in New York, Boston, Pittsburgh. With the excuse of confessions, he will create parishes, and other extra-ecclesiastical organizations which means breaking up the Omogenia. Ephraim is planning to expand his activities in Canada where he has already created a home base by forming extra-ecclesiastical organizations. The Russians wish to pay special attention to Astoria and for that fact, they are planning to establish “parishes” so that the followers of Ephraim can gather and reinforce the flock of the Cathedral of St. Demetrios.

"Ephraim is always accompanied by his subservient monk Savvas, a medical doctor by profession."
“Ephraim is always accompanied by his subservient monk Savvas, a medical doctor by profession.”

We would like to remind you that Ephraim already, since 1984, has created in Astoria a home base since he is “the elder” of the extra-ecclesiastical organization “Panaghia Glykofilousa” which, as a matter of fact, maintains a store of religious items with the same name. According to a communication with today’s president of the above organization, Mr. Theodore Kalokathis confirmed that Ephraim is the spiritual father of the organization; however, he stated that he was not aware that Ephraim has united with the Russians although he knew that Ephraim resigned from the monastery Philotheou of Mt. Athos. Unfortunately, we were not able to communicate with Ephraim himself.

Break Up – Secret Meeting

According to information that our newspaper has obtained, Ephraim is planning to bring about 15 monks and some female novices who will become nuns. As a matter of fact, a few months ago, he has brought some of these “female novices” with him to visit a building in Pittsburgh, which the novices decided was not appropriate. We will take this opportunity to mention that Ephraim is always accompanied by his subservient monk Savvas, a medical doctor by profession.

The Ephraim Phenomenon

About 10 years ago the monk Ephraim started visiting the United States and Canada with the excuse at first of therapy for his leg and later to have confessions with those he has been “spiritually connected.” Most of the times, he came without the proper ecclesiastical permission from the Archdiocese using the sneaky way of the “stolen permit” as follows: He would come into Canada first and then he would enter the United States to Astoria by choice, and later he would appear at the Archdiocese, placing the Archbishop Mr. Iakovos in a difficult position who, however, showed him love and affection, but at the same time, always reminded him of his omission [of asking for a permit]. The proper thing for the Archbishop would have been to have rejected him, and this way he would have observed the penalties required by the rules of the Church. “For jumping in and performing inappropriate parish activities not in accordance with the regional bishop.” Fr. Ephraim whom some followers consider a “spiritual and proper person” had his long-term plans, as are now confirmed by his actions, and that’s why he made sure he obtained a green card of permanent residence (N.H. 6-5/6-89 interview) while he was still the abbot of Philotheou monastery at Mt. Athos. During the time he was “healing,” he promised to stay at the monastery until his last breath and not to end up staying in America nine months and only three months in the place of his tonsure.

we uncover today that the monk Ephraim resigned from the position of abbot in the Philotheou monastery of Mt. Athos and has united with the Russian "church" of America.
we uncover today that the monk Ephraim resigned from the position of abbot in the Philotheou monastery of Mt. Athos and has united with the Russian “church” of America.

When his plans were uncovered in June 1989, such as purchase of land for monasteries, extra-ecclesiastical organizations, unauthorized meetings, and barricades, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is his religious authority since Mt. Athos reports to the Patriarchate, asked Ephraim to return immediately to Mt. Athos and provide the Patriarchate with the required explanations. Ephraim went to the Patriarchate and kneeling pleaded for forgiveness from the Patriarch and reported that everything has stopped, and that’s how he escaped a defrocking. During his interview on June 6, 1989, among other things, he mentioned “I made a mistake and I repent.” In answer to our question “Does the fact that you could have been the reason to break up the Church here scare you?” he answered in his own words: “No, I will never do this. Even if I lose my blood I will defend the Church. I respect the Archbishop, and I love him as well as all the clergy. I prefer to leave 1000 times and not have something like that happen which will not happen….”

However, what we see with the development of things today Mr. Ephraim simply was playing games with us; he pretended to have repented while at the same time he was making agreements with the Russians. As a matter of fact, some followers of his offered to defend him with paid advertisements. Here I shall mention Mr. George Dimopoulos (N.H. June 19, 1989) who at the time was the president of the “Astoria Brotherhood of Panaghia Glykofilousa” and who was also threatening “further actions,” and also mention the names of Demetrios and Angeliki Voutsouri (N.H. June 23). Just symptomatically, let’s ask what happened between Mr. Dimopoulos and Panaghia Glykofilousa?

During the time he was "healing," he promised to stay at the monastery until his last breath and not to end up staying in America nine months and only three months in the place of his tonsure.
During the time he was “healing,” he promised to stay at the monastery until his last breath and not to end up staying in America nine months and only three months in the place of his tonsure.

The ever memorable Metropolitan of Stavroupolis Maximos mediated by letter with Archbishop Mr. Iakovos to have him accept the monk Ephraim and tell him to establish a monastery for the Archdiocese. The Archbishop, again responding with superiority and forebearance, accepted him (monk Ephraim) in his office; as a matter of fact, he took him to the St. Basil Academy where he showed him the location for a monastery and told him he has his complete cooperation, to the point that he asked Ephraim to make the plan and present it to him. All financial expenses would have been assumed in whole by the Archdiocese; however, no such thing happened because Ephraim had his own direction already planned which finally led him to the Russian extremists.

Repentance or Defrocking

To the point that this monk Ephraim has led this situation, there are only two solutions: first, to declare repentance and no association with the Russians and remain within the Mt. Athos practicing obedience with some penalty that the Patriarchate will specify (as an example not to leave the place where he belongs for 10 years), and second, defrocking him and returning him to the laity so that others can use this example and all those that carry the same mind as Ephraim who with their actions become the reason for break-up of truth and the unity of the Church. The Omogenia is not a vineyard without a fence. It has some ecclesiastical and some “national” boundaries which Ephraim did not respect, and that is why he became one with the rest of the high-handed gang of all types of “magicians” and those who meet in secrecy. That’s all for today, and we will be back.

* Omogenia=native born or fellow Greeks

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He Was Going to Create an Organization Not in Accordance with the Church (Theodore Kalmoukos, 1989)

The monk Ephraim would go first to Canada after having received "permission" of Bishop Sotirios and then he would come to the U.S.A. in the Astoria, New York area, by preference.
The monk Ephraim would go first to Canada after having received “permission” of Bishop Sotirios and then he would come to the U.S.A. in the Astoria, New York area, by preference.
In case he refused to obey, the Patriarchate is determined to proceed with defrocking him, a fact that the Patriarch mentioned in a conversation with the committee.
In case he refused to obey, the Patriarchate is determined to proceed with defrocking him, a fact that the Patriarch mentioned in a conversation with the committee.
the position of the heirarchy of the Church was ecclesiastically proper offering a serious order to Fr. Ephraim "to return immediately to the monastery where he was tonsured."
the position of the heirarchy of the Church was ecclesiastically proper offering a serious order to Fr. Ephraim “to return immediately to the monastery where he was tonsured.”
He would then appear at the Archdiocese asking a blessing to stay from the Archbishop Iakovos.
He would then appear at the Archdiocese asking a blessing to stay from the Archbishop Iakovos.

Reprinted from the National Herald, Monday, June 5, 1989

“Not in accord with the Church and inappropriate. The presence of monk Ephraim from Mt. Athos in New York. The Patriarch advised him to get to his senses, otherwise, he will be defrocked. The role of Panaghia Glykofilousa.”

[Boston] A serious clerical problem has been created in our community and really with possible division in the Church because of activities of the monk Ephraim, the abbot of the Philotheou monastery at Mt. Athos together with the Christian brotherhood under the name “Panaghia Glykofilousa.” The above referenced individuals operated “not in accordance with the Church and inappropriately,” to a point that the Ecumenical Patriarchate would punish the monk Ephraim with defrocking. The situation is as follows:

How the Monk Ephraim First Appeared in the U.S.A.

About ten years ago the monk Ephraim started visiting the U.S.A. and Canada with the excuse, in the beginning of getting therapy on his leg, and later, to hear confessions from people with whom “he had a spiritual union.” Most of the time, he was using the trick of receiving “permission after the fact” from Archbishop Iakovos, who as a matter of fact, even under these circumstances showed understanding and love and offered him the permission.

The following actually happened: The monk Ephraim would go first to Canada after having received “permission” of Bishop Sotirios and then he would come to the U.S.A. in the Astoria, New York area, by preference. He would then appear at the Archdiocese asking a blessing to stay from the Archbishop and finally, [Archbishop Iakovos] would act as a father and give him permission, but at the same time, making sure to tell Fr. Ephraim he omitted asking for permission ahead of time. Fr. Ephraim, who is considered by some who know him as a spiritual leader, started handling confessions at their homes and many times even performed liturgy, something that would reach the level of “outside the Church activities,” although he [Fr. Ephraim] would insist that this was done “for practical reasons.”

Around the year 1984 in Astoria, NY, a “Christian brotherhood” under the name “Panaghia Glykofilousa” was created with Mr. George Dimopoulos as the head of the organization which was established in the most part by “followers” of Fr. Ephraim. This brotherhood opened a store in Astoria selling religious items and, in a way, became the home base for Fr. Ephraim. Please note that similar situations have been established in other cities in the U.S.A. and Canada.

Fr. Ephraim’s visits started becoming more frequent to a point that he would spend more time here [U.S.A.] than in his monastery at Mt. Athos. Circumstantially, we say that he avoided performing the liturgy together with other clerics of the Archdiocese, sometimes offering excuses that would reach the limits of jokes, that is, that he does not like high profiled churches and big crowds, when in reality, he was trying to avoid including the Archdiocese in his universal movement. In spite of this, the Archdiocese faced him with love and tolerance. As a matter of fact, several discussions took place between bishops, Mr. Sotirios of Toronto, Mr. Iakovos of Chicago, and Mr. Maximos of Pittsburgh to use the monastic experience of Fr. Ephraim and start monasticism in the above referenced areas, which shows that the bishops embraced this with a spirit of love.

And Wealth Resulting from Property

Recently, though, the brotherhood “Panaghia Glykofilousa” of New York was not satisfied with just a bookstore and its “Christian activity” but bought a piece of property in the Poconos of Pennsylvania for $150,000 with future plans to establish a monastery, putting in charge Fr. Ephraim. We must underline, however, that construction-wise and administration-wise, it would belong to the brotherhood who then would only make a “typical report” to the Archdiocese. This way they would be appropriate and they would be fulfilling an obligation to the Church.

And a Green Card

Consequently, the brotherhood was able to provide Fr. Ephraim with a green card of permanent residence in the U.S.A., a fact that reveals many intentions and presents a lot of doubts. Without any doubt, this has legal implications because the questions as to why and under what occupation was he given a permanent residence, especially to an abbot of a monastery who promised at the time of his “tonsure” to remain in the monastery. Naturally, in this case, there are many serious theological reasons which we will cover in the future.

A Proper Stand of the Archbishop

As soon as Archbishop Iakovos was informed of the events, he informed by telegraph Mt. Athos (Holy Mountain) and ordered Fr. Ephraim to return there. As a matter of fact, at a meeting of the two at the Archdiocese, Archbishop Iakovos made clear the slip to Fr. Ephraim and called him to face his responsibilities before this case reached a level of no return for the Church and Fr. Ephraim personally. In the meantime, the other Brotherhood of Chicago “Panaghia Glykofilousa” had placed an agreement to purchase a piece of land with intent to build a monastery there, at the cost of $450,000. They had already paid a $20,000 deposit. Information has it that the contract was cancelled after the way things turned out.

Patriarchate: Pay Attention

Last week a committee of the brotherhoods of Fr. Ephraim, there exists 10 such brotherhoods, with George Dimopoulos in charge wanting to bypass Archbishop Iakovos, went to the Ecumenical Patriarchate hoping they will receive the blessing [of the Patriarchate] so they can proceed. However, the position of the heirarchy of the Church was ecclesiastically proper offering a serious order to Fr. Ephraim “to return immediately to the monastery where he was tonsured.”

In case he refused to obey, the Patriarchate is determined to proceed with defrocking him, a fact that the Patriarch mentioned in a conversation with the committee. The Patriarch Mr. Demetrios is commonly known as a man of God, filled with forgiveness and truth, simple, wise and with a lot of love for everyone. For such a man to reach that point and speak about defrocking Fr. Ephraim means that he wanted to maintain the unity of the Omogenia # and not allow any type of “extra-religious activities.”

The Omogenia is not a Vineyard Without a Fence

Something that Fr. Ephraim and his followers did not take into account is that the Church and the Omogenia* has ecclesiastical limits. They are not a vineyard without a fence “activities exceeding the limits” unless they want to be equated with Peters, Paissiuses, Pangratioses, Panteleimones, and all the remaining “high-handed” bandits of the purely non-existent….

* Omogenia=native-born or fellow Greeks

NOTE: The Panagia Glykofilousa Brotherhood shut down in the early-2000s. Mr. Photios “the Cretan” rented a Uhaul truck, loaded it with all the bookstore’s books, and drove them up to St. Nektarios Monastery in Roscoe, NY, where he donated them. The Abbot, Geronda Joseph, let his monks have first pick, then he took some to sell in the bookstore, and donated the rest of them to the Apostle Paul Bookstore in Toronto, Canada (via Mr. Tzimi).

The Panagia Glykofilousa Brotherhood was named after the wonder-working icon of the same name located at Filotheou Monastery.
The Panagia Glykofilousa Brotherhood was named after the wonder-working icon of the same name located at Filotheou Monastery.