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Archbishop Elpidophoros Files Lawsuit against Publisher of ‘Exapsalmos’

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BOSTON – Archbishop Elpidophoros of America filed a lawsuit against Sotirios Tzoumas, publisher of the Athens-based ecclesiastical news agency The lawsuit was filed on April 9, 2024, before the Multimember Court of Athens by the attorney of Archbishop Elpidophoros, Panagiotis Vlassis. In the lawsuit, Elpidophoros seeks compensation of three hundred thousand euros, payment of legal expenses, and one year of imprisonment, alleging that Tzoumas’ articles insult his personality as Archbishop of America.

The amount awarded will be donated by Archbishop Elpidophoros to the youth camping center of the Archdiocese known as Ionian Village, located in Vartholomio, Ileia, Greece, an institution founded by the late Archbishop Iakovos.

He characterizes the publications as “insulting, defamatory, false, and slanderous” and emphasizes that “I have suffered and continue to suffer immense mental distress due to the serious insult to my honor, reputation, and dignity as well as my Archepiscopal ministry and standing.”

In the lawsuit, Archbishop Elpidophoros presents copies of articles from Exapsalmos signed by Mr. Tzoumas, which were written at various times.

FILE – Archbishop Elpidophoros of America kisses his spiritual father Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew at the Phanar. Photo Ecumenical Patriarchate/Archive Nikos ManginasIt is recalled that Archbishop Elpidophoros had sent a pre-trial notice to Tzoumas, as reported by The National Herald on March 7, 2024, protesting Tzoumas’ writing and demanding its removal from, the publication of a text provided by Archbishop Elpidophoros, and an apology, otherwise threatening with a lawsuit, which he now has done, as Tzoumas did not satisfy the Archbishop of America’s demands.

Tzoumas sent an extrajudicial response/statement to the extrajudicial notice of Archbishop Elpidophoros, which was published in The National Herald on March 15, 2024, revealing that it was Elpidophoros himself who, as a synodal member as Metropolitan of Prusa, leaked confidential discussions and exchanges from the Synod. He specifically stated, “Indeed, in the past, when you considered me a friend, you often used this courage when you conveyed information to me as a Synodal Member of the Holy Synod of our Ecumenical Patriarchate as Metropolitan of Prusa, when the issue of the finances of the Holy Archdiocese under Archbishop Demetrios was artfully created. At that time, I was useful in achieving at all costs the purpose of ousting Archbishop Demetrios. But the end justifies the means.”

In his lawsuit, Archbishop Elpidophoros, among the plethora of articles he has presented, also includes the one about his pre-trial notice, which is also prominent in the extensive lawsuit. The article was published on March 1, 2024, titled ‘Is it possible for Elpidophoros to agree to be elected Vice President of the National Council of the Christian Churches of the USA? What will the Orthodox Church gain from this?’ Among other things, the following is stated in this article: “Some people systematically engage in self-promotion. Any kind of promotion anywhere and for anything. The objective is promotion and only promotion. Even if it’s negative, offensive, indecent, even humiliating or derogatory! We said: promotion must be done! This is a syndrome. Sometimes it can be treated, but for that to happen, one must endure many slaps. One person who embodies the above is Archbishop Elpidophoros of America. His latest achievement? He became Vice President of the ‘National Council of Churches of the USA.’ An organization guided by other doctrines with which we have no particular relationship, and we do not participate in the Common Cup [Holy Communion] because they advocate other things that we consider heretical. And indeed, as you will see on the website of this Council, which we publish at the end of our text, Mr. Elpidophoros poses with full Hierarchical vestments (staff, and pectoral cross) and is promoted among ‘female bishops,’ among ‘Teresas’, and other… echoing forces! Unfortunately, this is a disgrace and shame! An Orthodox Hierarch, who ‘stands in the place and image of Christ’, participating in a… ‘Karagiozis’ puppet show! Disgusting! He should at least wear his suit. It would cause less provocation.”

In his lawsuit, Archbishop Elpidophoros, after citing a series of allegations regarding Tzoumas’ writing, concludes as follows: “Therefore, the amount of reasonable financial compensation that should be awarded to me for the moral damage I have suffered from the unfair and culpable actions of the defendant Sotirios Tzoumas amounts to the sum of three hundred thousand (300,000.00) euros, a sum suitable to mitigate the occurring moral damage and to make its restoration, even partially, possible.”

The Archbishop requests that “this lawsuit of mine be fully accepted” and that “the defendant be obliged to remove the offense against me, by removing, degrading, and deleting from the databases of the ecclesiastical content website, which he manages and is responsible for, the items in question,” while citing the contentious articles.

He also asks that “the defendant be obliged to refrain in the future from any offense against my personality and to refrain from making claims identical or similar to those mentioned in the insulting, defamatory, false, and slanderous publications on the website under threat of a financial penalty against him, in the amount of 30,000.00 euros for each new publication and for each violation of the injunction issued by the decision.”

Furthermore, he requests the court to compel Mr. Tzoumas to publish a restorative text attached to the lawsuit.

The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, October 10, at 9:00 AM, in the courtroom of the Athens Court of First Instance, Building 4, Room 1.

It is noted that this is the first time in the history of the Archdiocese of America that an Archbishop has filed a lawsuit against a Media Outlet and its publisher.