GOA: the Beginning of the End?

A few of you have asked me to comment on a recent top-secret meeting of all the hierarchs of the GOA. To be truthful, I hadn’t heard anything until one of you mentioned it. Since then, I’ve only minor rumblings but nothing I could put my finger on.

The one angle that kept popping up in my inquiries has been that there is a tremendous shortfall in revenue. To the tune of 8 million dollars and that certain restricted funds were raided to keep operations at 79th Street afloat. Of particular concern was the rumor that the priest’s pension fund was one of the unwitting piggy-banks that were broken into.

It now appears that the financial malfeasance may be more widespread than that. As reported in The Pappas Post other funds that may have been raided including the trust fund set aside for the rebuilding of St Nicholas, which was destroyed on September 11, 2001. (See below.)

Many are placing the blame on Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis for this state of affairs. Admittedly, he is the “Archbishop of America” but in reality this is an empty title. At best he is merely a figurehead. Ever since the sorry fate of Ligonier in the late nineties, when the Ecumenical Patriarch forced his intrusion into the Western Hemisphere, the GOA lost all autonomy. Hence all subsequent archbishops (Spyridon and now Demetrios) were place in an untenable situation.

This situation was made worse by the fact that the various dioceses were elevated to “metropolises” and their bishops became metropolitans. Since then, they reported directly to Constantinople, and not New York City, thereby making accountability impossible.

Under such a scenario, the Archbishop (whoever he was) was a ready-made scapegoat for any failures.

To be sure, under the present archbishop, things have not gone swimmingly. Other than the Episcopal Assembly and the growth of Athonite monasticism, Archbishop Demetrios cannot point to any outstanding successes.

Rather than pile up on him, the question that GOA laymen must ask is: are things going to be better under his successor? More importantly, given the present, heavy-handed control exercised by the Phanar, can they even envision a scenario in which things can turn around?

From where I sit, it doesn’t appear that this is possible. What do you think?

More to follow.

www.pappaspost.com/financial-crisis-grips-greek-orthodox-archdiocese-america-millions-st-nicholas-funds-used-fund-deficits .

Comments

  1. Fr. Peter Andronache says:

    I was wondering why I received an email from the Archdiocesan Benefits Committee about the pension plan: the rumors mentioned here are probably the reason. For whatever it’s worth, the message included these two points:

    1. The Pension Plan has been in existence since 1973. All governance of the Insurance and Pension Plan has been administered and managed by the Benefits Committee since 1996 and not the Archdiocese administration.
    2. The Archdiocese cannot “take any money out” of the Pension Plan and has not done so.

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Fr, I hope you’re correct. I imagine that you are. As I wrote, I had heard “rumblings” about monies being diverted from the pension plan. That was only a rumor at that point in the story. One that looks like it was not corroborated. Having said that, the story has now expanded to include other restricted funds, specifically the St Nicholas 9/11 fund. I imagine there will be more information to follow.

      Regardless, an $8,000,000 deficit is not a pretty picture. For what it’s worth, I’ve been told by other sources that part of the massive increase in the budget from $12 million to thirty million during Arb Demetrios’ tenure has been because of the six-figure salaries and generous pensions that the bishops get. Plus the one million per annum that the Phanar skims off the top I imagine makes budgeting difficult.

      • Hilber Nelson says:

        Whenever I read of such goings on as this I return to the same question: So what is the laity to do? Nothing? Pray? Or take action in holding their leaders accountable? To do nothing is a form of consent, but understandable given human nature’s propensity for taking the path of least resistance. But in doing so we forfeit our own credibility — for we laity too often continue to let the fox run the hen house by our own inaction. Perhaps an $8 million price tag will muster laity from its slumber to organize and clean house. There are many, many ways in which commoners can hold elitist clergy’s feet to the holy fire of reform. The question is, what would be effective? Any ideas out there?

        • It's déjà vu all over again says:

          Hilber,

          You may want to speak with some OCA faithful who were around in 2005 or 2006, when the financial shenanigans of the OCA came to light.

          Some faithful will alter their financial stewardship, since God calls us to be responsible stewards to what He has entrusted to us. It is not responsible at all to give money to a St Nicholas rebuilding project and then know that that money is being illegally diverted to fund other endeavors/boondoggles/lavish lifestyles/Turkish governments.

          Some may change jurisdictions, though I doubt it much for the GOA, since most faithful in the GOA either like or want the heavy-on-the-Greekness.

          Many of the faithful won’t know or won’t care about all of this, which I bet is what E. 79th Street is counting on. To a large extent, that was true in the OCA, especially in the less “convert” parishes.

          To a large degree, people believe what they want to believe, and like it or not, for many Orthodox faithful, it is simply too painful to face the reality that some hierarchs are not financially honest. Living in delusion is easier.

          But luckily, Americans have this nasty habit of wanting accountability for where our hard-earned money goes. If we give to God and our Church, we want it to go to God and to our Church, not to the Turkish government or to fund the lavish lifestyle of a non-monastic hierarch.

          One of the best and easiest things to do is to spread the word so information about these financial irregularities gets out. Most Greeks I know are a feisty bunch and won’t be happy being swindled.

          • George Michalopulos says:

            For what it’s worth, I read where several employees at 79th St were parking their cars daily at the parking lot right across the street from the Archdiocesan HQ, to the tune of $60/car/day. Little things like that added up quickly.

            Then again, I think the bishops of the GOA get $250,000 per annum for life (whether they’re active or retired). If anybody knows any differently, please feel free to correct the record.

            • Well George, Let’s look at this note from the 2015 Financial Statement:
              “Other Retirement Benefits
              The Archdiocese also provides supplemental retirement benefits to certain hierarchs outside of the plan noted above (The GOA Retirement Plan). As of December 31, 2015 and 2014, the Archdiocese has recorded a liability of $1,266,714 and $1,364,975, respectively, for these benefits, and are included within pension and other accrued retirement benefits in the accompanying statements of financial position.”

              So there is a separate fund to pay certain retired hierarchs. Now how many retired hierarchs were there in 2015? Divide that number into the numbers above and you see how good the living can be.

            • It's déjà vu all over again says:

              The purpose of the Church is to produce saints (in a nutshell). One can look at the fruit of a Church based on the saints it has produced.

              How can the GOA hope to produce saints among its episcopate when paying them $250,000 per year? One even feels bad for the bishops, since the system sets them up for failure from the start. Talk about a ridiculous policy that needs to change!

              Among the Orthodox Churches in North America and the saints they have produced:

              ROCOR: St John Maximovitch of San Francisco, possibly Blessed Fr Seraphim Rose, possibly Met. Philaret, among others
              OCA and ROCOR: All of the Alaskan saints (St Herman of Alaska, St Peter the Aleut, St Juvenaly, St Yakov Netsvetov) and also St Tikhon, St Alexander Hotovitsky & St John Kochurov and others came from this church before the Russian Church in America split post-Bolshevik revolution
              OCA: probably Vladika Dmitri of Dallas, probably Met. Leonty; St Alexis of Wilkes-Barre
              Serbian Church in America: St Nikolai Velimirovich, St Sebastian, and Mardarije
              Antiochian Archdiocese: St Raphael Hawaweeny
              Romanian Orthodox Church: not glorified yet, but certainly Fr Gheorghe Calciu who lived in the D.C. area for most of the latter years of his life

              Where are the saints from the GOA? Excepting the Ephraimite monasteries, which are a recent arrival to the GOA scene, where are the saints that the GOA has produced? Not trying to be difficult, more totally incredulous — The GOA is the Orthodox jurisdiction in America with the most adherents by far, but it has not produced any saints? That alone speaks volumes about the spiritual health of said jurisdiction.

              • George Michalopulos says:

                That’s an interesting way of putting it. Perhaps the only correct way for that matter.

                • Alitheia1875 says:

                  That a church produces saints has long been a measure of its spirituality and its commitment to perpetuating the faith “once delivered to the saints.”

                  • Recent posts on this blog are troubling. Some claim, “the purpose of the Church is to produce saints.” Then presented in ensuing posts is a scoreboard of saints, with an attitude of our jurisdiction has more saints than yours. This attitude is divisive and inconsistent with the ecclesiology of the Church. ‘Is Christ divided” asks St Paul? It is the Church, the universal Body of Christ, which produces saints. Competition among jurisdictions only leads to division, pride, self-righteousness and unhealthy competition.
                    In addition, I am not aware of any reference to the mission of the Church being to produce saints. Yes, we are called to holiness, to live “in Christ”, to “abide in Christ” through repentance, faith and the sacramental life of the Church
                    Jesus clearly called his followers to “go forth and make disciples.” The preaching in the Book of Acts calls individuals to faith in Christ, repentance and Baptism. Nowhere does it call individuals to sainthood. St Paul address all Christians as saints. Notwithstanding, there are those individuals who excel in the Christian life in various ways that we identify as saints.
                    Ultimately, heaven will not be populated by nice people but rather by forgiven people. The mission of the Church thus becomes to proclaim and live the forgiveness and new life offered in Jesus the Christ.

              • Michael Bauman says:

                Don’t forget Matuska Olga.

              • Hieromartyr John Karastamatis of Santa Cruz was a GOA priest.

                https://orthodoxword.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/the-new-hieromartyr-john-karastamatis-of-santa-cruz/

                You said it well that the purpose of the Church is to produce saints but it’s misleading to say that the saints you referred to were “produced” in North America. No such thing happened. In almost every single case they were born and raised overseas in Orthodox lands where they lived holy lives until they were sent here or otherwise came here in order to flee persecution.

                It also doesn’t really help to bring up cases of saints who reposed in the Lord over a hundred years ago since that doesn’t tell us anything about spiritual conditions today.

                • George Michalopulos says:

                  Well, you gotta start somewhere. Having said that Matushka Olga was a native of the Americas and very recent.

                • Michael Bauman says:

                  Certainly an horrific murder. However I would be interested in your source for the claim that it was done by Satan worshippers and the rest.

                  The man who participated in the murder, Edward Bowman, is in prison and been denied parole four times last in 2015. Each hearing attended by Fr. John’s family in opposition. Mr. Bowman apparently has normal though twisted mental faculties. His wife, Anna Bowman shot herself during a standoff with police. No Cobra venom for either one. No third person mentioned in the account by a local reported who seemed quite intent on doing a factual job of reporting.

                  The Bowman’s were quite well known to the Karastamatis family. Anna worked at the parish. They may even have been parishoners. Fr. John appatently spent a great deal of pastoral time with the Bowman family.He had encouraged them to come to his parish from an EOC parish they had been involved with.

                  Fr. John was a diligent, respected priest with a zeal for the faith who suffered a horrible death. That does not automatically make him a marytr.

                • It's déjà vu all over again says:

                  Amazing — I had not heard of the Holy Hieromartyr John (Karastamatis) before. Thank you. I wish the GOA would publicize his story more.

                  But I respectfully disagree with your statement that the bulk of the saints listed do not count because they were not “produced” in North America. Persecuted churches and churches undergoing trials and tribulations produce saints. Churches that consistently preach the Cross produce saints. It’s no mere coincidence that so many saints of the 20th century came out of the persecuted churches under the communist bloc. The communists murdered 300,000 Orthodox priests — likely mostly all saints, either in their lives or in their martyrdom.

                  The churches in America that produced the bulk of the American saints in the 20th century — the Russian churches (OCA/ROCOR/MP), the Serbian Church, the Romanian church, the Ukrainian church, etc. — did so precisely because these churches survived under conditions in which saints are produced (times of trials and tribulations, persecutions, being poor refugees without worldly wealth, etc.).

                  Being fat, rich, and happy doesn’t provide the milieu or framework within which saints will be produced. Which is my point — paying GOA bishops $250,000 more or less guarantees that unless said episcopate rejects what their church gives them, they are very unlikely to become the next St John Maximovitch or St Tikhon. When the GOA constantly harps about its “Archon billionaries” who support the EP and thus the Turkish government, these may be filthy rich Greek Americans, but that is not sainthood and ain’t the point of the church. It’s as if the GOA sometimes boasts a “prosperity gospel” of its own.

                  By contrast, a priest being paid next to nothing by a mission parish who works an outside job to support his family, or clergy or faithful who choose to give way more than 10% of their income to the church, to the poor and needy — these folk are already living in a milieu that is much more conducive to becoming a saint.

                  Modernist churches like the ECUSA or the Lutherans or whatever mainstream protestant church do not produce saints because they do not believe in the redemptive value of suffering and of the Cross, as we do. They more or less enjoy being fat, rich, and happy (and gay or lesbian for that matter).

                  I am very happy to hear about the Holy Hieromartyr John (Karastamatis) from the GOA, but he seems clearly to be an anomaly within the GOA culture.

                  If Holy Hieromartyr John is the “standard” that the GOA aspires to be, then they should publicize him and his sainthood more. I bet most Orthodox Americans have never heard of him.

                • Alitheia1875 says:

                  True enough but how many of us are able to lead true Orthodox lives in this society. That they were able to maintain their saintly lives in spite of what they encountered here is testament enough to the rightness of proclaiming them saints.

          • A question for the masses here: Does the GOA have a Diocese of the South? Is there a region in which there is a glimpse of the panOrthodox future, where evangelism and growth is consistently welcomed if not planned?

            • I’ll take that silence as a NO.

              • Fr. Deacon John says:

                To answer the first question – the GOA has the Metropolis of Atlanta, which covers all or part of 8 southern states – (FL, GA, SC, NC, and AL in full) and (parts of LA, MS and TN).

                To the second part of your question – there are several parishes in Florida that are growing leaps and bounds because of a welcoming attitude of the people and a few priests who embrace newcomers to the Faith. We could use sooooooo many more parishes like these.

                • Next question: All over America, there are dying/fading Greek parishes in communities that do not have another Orthodox option. What can be done to make this parishes — even of leaders are only acting in their own self interest — more panOrthodox, more open to converts and members of other ethnic jurisdictions? Will these facilities and their property simply sit empty, someday?

                  Yes, I know about the Tri-Cities, Tenn., parish and I think that is a sign of hope. Ironically, my family is remembered there every Sunday since we were among the founders of the Antiochian mission that folded (with its Antiochian Archdiocese priest) into the local Greek parish, forming a new parish with a new name.

                  https://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/print65930.htm

                  Can this approach save other parishes elsewhere, creating doors into Orthodoxy for more people?

                • New report in National Herald says at least 20 parishes have decided to withhold their monies to the Archdiocese until a full accounting of the financial situation, including St. Nicholas at World Trade Center, is provided. Full disclosure is the only answer during a crisis situation who is advising the EP during this crisis? The EP may now take notice and do something about this when it hits the pocketbook!

          • Speaking of financial shenanigans, now the National Herald is reporting that “volunteer” finance chairman George Vourvoulias, who received over $900,000 for travel expenses, is now campaigning to have Bishop Demetrious of Chicago elected Metropolitan, praising him top to bottom. He is encouraging parishes to send “likes” to the EP. I still have not heard if the Bishop returned his “gift” from Father Dokos, who helped put Milwaukee Annunciation in dire straits, plus behind-the-scenes political shenanigans. We should ask George V why we would want this political and financial baggage in the Metropolitan office of Chicago.

      • Joseph Lipper says:

        I imagine there’s no such thing as tax exempt status in Istanbul for the Phanar. Probably quite the opposite. I’ve sometimes wondered how much of this money from the G.O.A. ends up in Turkey’s coffers.

        • George Michalopulos says:

          Good question. I was always told that to get anything done in the Ottoman Empire was by baksheesh (or “trickle-up economics).

          • Estonian Slovak says:

            Is that perhaps why Greeks are such astute business people? It seems to be a trait of Balkan Slavs as well. It would have been a survival tactic under the Turks.

            • George Michalopulos says:

              Indeed. I always heard that my forebears were known for keeping a krypsoni –a hidden (usually very small) vault–somewhere so the Turks could never find it when they sent their agents to come around to collect taxes. Two sets of books as it were.

              This is also happening in many GOA parishes, where they have undertaken building projects in order to escape paying the exorbitant “fair share” to 79th St. (I imagine parishes in other jurisdictions do this as well.)

  2. George, National Herald had a couple stories. I just did not want to subscribe, to read the article.

  3. As someone who works in lower Manhattan 2-3 months a year and walks past St. Nicholas, it does appear that work on the project has slowed to a crawl.

    Alas.

  4. Fr. Peter Andronache says:

    I hope the letter is correct. I have no other information beside the letter, so I hoped I could offer a piece of concrete information. I am tired of rumors and lack of transparency, so I thought I’d try and bring something relatively official into the conversation.

    Unfortunately, I have no light to shed on the $8 million deficit being talked about. Perhaps by God’s grace, I have missed the last three clergy-laities (once unhappily, because my father was having brain surgery, which he eventually did not recover from, and twice as two of our kids were born in July). In any case, I was nowhere near any discussion of the archdiocesan budget or of the financial health of the archdiocese.

  5. Greatly Saddened says:

    George … if you are interested, four most recent articles from The National Herald have been posted in their entirety on ocl.org website.

  6. Michael Woerl says:

    “Successes?” Athonite monasticism, succeeding despite “official EP policy,” and as long as they don’t criticize Crete and/or extremes ecumenist excess, and … the Assembly of Bishops? 😅😅😅 Good one!

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Michael, re the Assembly of Bishops, I was being very charitable. On the surface and perhaps as a potentiality the EA can congeal into an authentic American synod. Now, mind you, I’m not holding my breath on that but the potential is there. And it’s a good potential even if it was crafted as a way to continue the Phanariote stranglehold on the diaspora.

      As for the Athonite monasteries, all I can say is that I’ve been to two and while they don’t discuss politics, I’ve gotten the very strong impression that they are not hopelessly addicted to the globalist propaganda peddled by the Phanar.

      ‘Nuff said.

  7. I tried to post this in the actual topic, but I think it’s closed to comments:

    According to one of my sources, Fr. Spyridon (who wrote the book exposing occultism) has been suspended by his bishop and is under attack from fellow clergy. If anything, this proves his point.

    Anyone who is interested in helping him out at this time should think about buying some of his books on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/FATHER-SPYRIDON-BAILEY/e/B00GUGOVJE

    His vice should not be silenced!

  8. Regarding the Pension Fund: There is no audit of the Pension Fund available on the GOA website and the most recent 2015 audit (where are the most recent ones?) says the following.
    “The plan is considered a church plan and is therefore exempt from the provisions of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”), as amended. Due to the nature of the plan, it is not practicable to determine the extent to which the assets
    of the plan cover the actuarially computed value of vested benefits for the Archdiocese, on a standalone basis. In addition, because the plan is considered a multi-employer plan, it is only subject to certain minimum reporting requirements.”

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Well, if it’s exempt from ERISA, then I’d say all bets are off regarding any possible shenanigans.

      • Fr. Peter Andronache says:

        The letter sent to the clergy also contained the following paragraph:

        We will continue to work with Mercer to grow and protect the integrity of the Plan to ensure that no Plan funds are ever used for any purpose other than those prescribed by the Plan and in accordance with ERISA guidelines that the Plan follows.

        Somewhat related – I tried sending an email to George@monomakhos.com, as directed on the contact page, and the email bounced with the message: The response was: 550 No Such User Here.

      • Fr. Peter Andronache says:

        I have twice tried to reply to the comment regarding ERISA and for some reason the comment did not go through, so I am trying a different browser. In the letter we received from the Archdiocese Benefits Committee, the following paragraph was included:

        We will continue to work with Mercer to grow and protect the integrity of the Plan to ensure that no Plan funds are ever used for any purpose other than those prescribed by the Plan and in accordance with ERISA guidelines that the Plan follows.

        I tried emailing a copy of the letter to George@monomakhos.com, but the email bounced with a “no such user” message.

  9. Greatly Saddened says:

    Unfortunately this is not the first time the archdiocese has faced financial difficulties. The hierarchy seems to live a lavish life style at laity’s expense. Shame on the Archdiocesan Council for failing to do their job. What kind of oversight have they been doing? We can’t simply blame the clerics, when laity is not only allowing, but rather contributing to this fiasco.
    The budget has gone from 12 or so million in 1999, to over 30 million. What will it take to finally, once and for all, get accountability and transparency at both the archdiocese, as well as the metropolises? How many more articles from Theodore Kalmoukos will it take? Rather than Christ serving, it seems to be more like, self serving!

  10. Michael Bauman says:

    The Church will get smaller…

    • Indeed…I think overall we will see a shrinking of the Church, not just the GOA. Whether Christ returns tomorrow or in 20 years, 50, 100 who knows. However we do know that there will be a falling away so much so that He asks if He will find faith on the earth when He returns (Luke 18:8).

      I can foresee a day when most clergy are bivocational and so ROCOR, the OCA, and even the Antiochians may be better prepared for the future face of Orthodoxy in America.

      • George Michalopulos says:

        Agreed. And the true Christians who desire worship and praxis should be willing to step up to the plate and not demand gymnasia and restaurants unless they can afford them.

        I’ve often felt that in any metropolitan area where there are many Orthodox churches, only one should have things like a first-class parochial school and banquet facilities. Missions should be spun off and they should start out spare with an emphasis on liturgics and worship.

    • Our Lord foretold this, as did His Apostles and prophets. Revealed to be smaller than it appears might be a more accurate way of saying it, though. The only question is, will my faith be warmed and strengthened by this revelation or, as iniquity abounds, will my love, with the many, wax cold?

      The chill that seeps into the cracks of my soul is fearful to me

  11. If the hierarchs and leaders of the GOA think this is just about money then they have truly failed in the most basic Christian sense. The money problems are a sign of a serious Christian failure throughout the leadership of the Church. Today the GOA embraces the very things that Jesus Christ turned down when he was tempted in the desert. I am sure the GOA will find a bunch of millionaires who will cover the deficit in exchange for praise, power and control. However, the problems that created this crisis will remain until more and more clergy and laity have the courage to insist that the Church live in a manner that honors the example of Jesus Christ and not the Byzantine Empire.

  12. Greatly Saddened says:

    What happened to the money from the sale of the mansion in Rye, NY? I believe His Eminence of blessed memory, Archbishop Iakovos, sold it to the archdiocese, years later for what he had bought if for. It is my understanding the one stipulation was that, His Eminence Archbishop Iakovos, was to live there until his passing. Unfortunately His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, preferred to live in Manhattan. Even so, he could have lived in the apartment building next to the cathedral, rather than incur additional expenses to the archdiocese. Even though from what we have been lead to believe, a donor supposedly picked up the cost of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios’s rent. It’s not as if His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios had to concern himself with driving. He is picked up and driven around by his deacons. What happened to humility? Where does this reckless spending stop? It’s a bottomless pit. The laity is just there to pay, obey and after all is done … pray. From what I have seen, this archdiocese (hierarchs and Archdiocesan Council) does not seem to have a conscience. If they did, this would have stopped years ago. It’s the blind leading the blind. The laity is expected to pay up and shut up. This is, simply put, disgusting. It’s time laity wakes up and puts a stop to this malfeasance and mismanagement. How much more can parishes continue to be asked to contribute to this three ring circus. Enough is enough.

    • The home that Archbishop Iakovos lived in — that he bought — was gifted to the Archdiocese by Iakovos to be the permanent home of the Archbishop after his own passing. It was sold by Demetrios shortly after his death. There is no archiepiscopal residence today as Demetrios lives in a property on Fifth Avenue and 86th Street that belongs to the Jaharis family.

      • Greatly Saddened says:

        Anon,
        Thank you so much for clarifying that His Eminence, of blessed memory, Archbishop Iakovos, gifted his residence to the Archdiocese. Which makes me even more upset. If my memory serves me correct, to pay for a new roof for the Archdiocese and other expenses. The bottom line is, it should have been kept as the Archbishop’s residence. End of story! Once again, shame on the Archdiocese and the Archdiocesan Council at the time. Please excuse me, for not getting back to you sooner.

  13. This is why we pray for our Bishops. They are special targets of the Evil One because they are often close to power and money and so the potential for this kind of passion overcoming them is also greater. Until this is all sorted out, and it will be one way or another because our Lord wants his Bride to be spotless, we can continue to pray for them and ourselves and resolve that we will seek God’s face so as to not be overcome. Remember, there is a certain truth to the idea that our leaders, in whatever arena, are a reflection of ourselves and if we are disturbed by their behavior there is, perhaps, a call in that to examine our own as well.

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Fr, I totally agree with you. We can’t expect –let alone demand–much more from our bishops unless we expect and demand likewise from ourselves. I think of our niggardly giving for one. Or our ethnic parochialism for another. Our inability to engage in the ascetic struggle and to look down on those who do.

      I could go on.

      Having said that, the bishops are given a special charism that they will have to answer for on the Last Day. Perhaps one reason we no longer see dynamic bishops who emulate Ss Ambrose of Milan or Basis of Caesarea is because the quality of the men who are chosen and the reasons they are chosen. Let’s not dance around this: many are compromised individuals. To expect a Maximovitch or an Innocent or a Raphael to arise from their ranks is pretty much a pipe dream.

      • Respectfully, George, even scoundrels can come to their senses and become Saints. Have a little faith. Fr. John is right. They need our prayers – both the good and the bad.

  14. r j klancko says:

    perhaps it is time for the third rome to take charge and lead the way

  15. O well, nothing new under the sun, the system the top heavy Greeks have set up is relegated to serve the purpose of making sure the top brass are fairing sumptuously ever day. Many a parishioner would dearly love to have a 6 figure salary and a fat pension, but they just have to pay for it with God’s tithe. This is really catholic of the bishops, turning the hearts of the father to to the best interests those who don’t need it.Chimps! It was posted here on this blog some time ago , that Fr.Jillions receives a 6 figured salary.Something he would not have received if Met Jonah were still Patriarch of the OCA. The true servants of Jesus Christ laugh at these clueless wonders, they have the kingdom of heaven which they would not trade for all the money in the world.

  16. Michael Bauman says:

    If I am in conflict with some or someone is treating me badly there is a sure fire way of resolution: for me to repent.

    If we live a life of repentance, we will have better bishops.

  17. Greatly Saddened says:

    How sad is the situation pertaining to the list of possible candidates for bishop/metropolitan in the GOA. With somewhere around 524 parishes in the GOA, the list consists of only 36 possible candidates. Of these 36, four are auxiliary bishops, one is widowed, one is retired, one is on medical leave and three are currently not assigned for whatever reason. Even with the names of metropolitans from outside the US, to be added per the request of the Patriarchate, it is still a limited amount of candidates. We continue to see bishops/metropolitans who are elected and lack basic management and human relationship skills in dealing with their clergy and laity. It is high time for the office of bishop/metropolitan to be opened to married priests, as was the original tradition of the Church, before it was changed to celibate only. If this isn’t discrimination, I don’t know what is. I realize the fact that not every married priest would be interested, but they should be afforded the same opportunity, just as the archimandrite/celibate presently has. I know this is asking too much, especially when the ones who would have the right to change this are these very same archimandrites/celibates of the Holy Synod. The last thing they want is more competition from the married ranks. What makes a celibate priest more worthy than a married priest? I will not buy the statement, they are single and have more time to devote to the Church.
    In The National Herald this past February, Theodore Kalmoukos wrote a interesting article regarding the election of only archimandrites to the office of bishop. You may not agree with all his points, but he does make a valid point as to why it should be opened to married priests. Please see below.

    https://www.thenationalherald.com/152410/archimandritism-drama-forced-celibacy/

    • Alitheia1875 says:

      Regarding archimandrites…..that title is given out eventually to all unmarried priests. The monastic tradition is that the only archimandrite in a monastery would be the abbot. If there was a longstanding acceptance and tradition of monasticism in this country, which was closely allied with the GOA, for instance, then there would be candidates for the episcopal office in the monasteries. But that would run counter to what is supposedly needed, a sort of CEO.

      • Estonian Slovak says:

        Correction, the title of archimandrite can be given only to monastics. A priest who is widowed or a never-married celibate wouldn’t qualify, not unless he becomes at least a Riassophore monk first.
        Married bishops? Not a good idea. It was tried in Russia by the Renovationist “Living Church.” This group was supported by the Soviets to wean believers away from the Moscow Patriarchate. Sadly, the EP recognized the Living Church for a time in the 20′ s even as St. Tikhon the Patriarch and others were being martyred by the Soviets.
        You want to go back to the Ancient Church, don’t just stop with married bishops. Have the St. James liturgy every Sunday. If people blubber about how long the St. John Chrysostom liturgy is, imagine what the reaction to a St. James liturgy would be. You want to go back to those times, enforce every canon literally. People would routinely be excommunicated for six months, a year, or longer.
        Dr. Stankovich quotes Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky as saying,”We are far removed from that time of grace.” I concur.

        • Alitheia1875 says:

          While what you say about bestowing the title of archimandrite what I was referring to is another reality in the GOA. Widowed priests are given the title and there are those who are tonsured rassophores (before or after ordination as celibates) wihout ever having lived under obedience in a monastery. As for Metropolitan Anthony Khrapovitsky he was so right, as he was in all he had to say. A truly saintly man who is often either ignored or castigated in certain circles because he speaks the truth.

        • Fr. Harry Linsinbigler says:

          It is impossible to have married bishops right now. Dioceses would have to go back to their former “size” (i.e. what deaneries are now) in order to make that happen. Priestly marriages would be ruined to make married priests into bishops in the current situation and with the current size of the diocese. I do think that more widowed priests need to take tonsure and be elevated to the episcopate. But, to be honest, most would need more “re-education” through a seminary program to do so.

          • George Michalopulos says:

            Fr, I agree with you regarding the size of dioceses. They should be the size of present-day deaneries.

      • Monk James says:

        Only monastic priests may be elevated to the rank of archimandrite. The superior of a men’s monastery is its hegoumen; a hegoumeness heads a women’s community.

        A hegoumen may also be an archimandrite, a rank unattainable for female or other monastics who are not priests, although — as is obvious from the hegoumenesses — a monk need not be a priest to serve as the hegoumen of his monastery.

        Ideally, there can be only one hegoumen/ess active in a monastery, although it’s possible that a retired superior of that rank might be in residence.

        Additionally, since archimandrites must be priests, it’s clear that their office is not monastic, but eparchial. Ideally, there should be only one archimandrite in each eparchy, whose responsibilities include answering to the local bishop for the good order of the monasteries in the eparchy.

        Abuses of these titles have deprived them of meaning, and there are many opportunities for us to improve our Orthodox Christian practice on every level, whether as laity, clergy, or monastics.

        One thing we can do immediately is to avoid the words ‘abbot’ and ‘abbess’, which are not Eastern Orthodox terms, regardless of their etymological derivation.

  18. Greatly Saddened says:

    Some more interesting reading from the “We Are Orthodox” website.

    http://weareorthodox.com/ourblog/

  19. In response to Ioannis’ earlier comment that a few millionaires will be tapped to solve the GOA’s current financial problems, it’s fair to say that such persons are becoming increasingly difficult to come by as the profligate practices and lack of accountability of the Church are becoming more apparent by the day. It’s well known that the “heavy hitters” among Greek-American philanthropists have long preferred endowing hospitals, established universities, museums, arts organizations, and charitable institutions with track records of credible transparency to that of endowing their own. This mindset and its inevitable trickle down effect does not augur well for the future of the GOA.

    • George Michalopulos says:

      Indeed.

    • Besides, one then becomes beholding to those “big donors.”

    • Alitheia1875 says:

      Hoe right you are. A good example is Hellenic College Holy Cross. That one of the two or three most socio-economically successful groups has failed to support this school in a meaningful way, even before the advent of the college in the early 1960s proves your point well. Why is the endowment fund a measly $25 million after 80 years when it should be at least 10, if not 20 times as much? Why hasn’t the college grown to a point where its 52 acres are full of buildings and hundreds of students? There are many, as you say, who put their money elsewhere, but there are also some who would prefer to see it small so they could be big fish in a small pond or that, God forbid, money should be drained from the Archdiocese or the Metropolises. God forbid that donors should give their money to HCHC. I have heard it said that one very wealthy Greek American asked, when visiting the school, what do want here, another Brandeis (which was founded 10 years after Holy Cross)? Audacity that is hard to believe, much less understand. Even the Mennonites have had their own college since about 1885. When was the last time you walked down the street and bumped into a Mennonite? Shameful and embarrassing. Even more so is the fact that at times married students studying for the priesthood, married and with children and living on campus have had to rely on food stamps for their families!

  20. Greatly Saddened says:

    FYI … In today’s edition of The National Herald, a article by Theodore Kalmoukos, states some 20 or so parishes throughout the country, intend to either reduce or completely stop paying their assessment to the Archdiocese. We can only hope the laity has finally had enough and by doing this, is sending a strong message both to the Archdiocese and the Metropolises. Since I am not a subscriber, I do not have access to the entire article. Please see below.

    https://www.thenationalherald.com/177187/parishes-intend-stop-paying-archdiocese/

    • George Michalopulos says:

      I’m curious: what do y’all think the number of parishes withholding funds would be for a critical mass to be reached?

      • Michael Bauman says:

        There is no Orthodox ecclesial principle that allows for withholding funds. Such proposals and acts stem from the Enlightenment Congregationalism.

        Now if enough bishops would act in concord that would be different but it would take all of them.

        • Jesus had strong disagreement with the leaders of the temple and they were the ones who eventually orchestrated his execution; yet, there is no place in scripture that he encouraged people to hold back support. He even commended the “widow” for her sacrificial giving.

  21. Greatly Saddened says:

    This just posted from The National Herald. “Bartholomew Urgently Calls Upon Demetrios to Explain Archdiocese Finances.” Once again, since I am not subscriber, I cannot access the entire article. Please see below.
    https://www.thenationalherald.com/177232/bartholomew-urgently-calls-upon-demetrios-explain-archdiocese-finances/

  22. Athanasios says:

    Mr kalmoukos doesn’t name any of these parishes. It’s all hearsay. Perhaps he is trying to start this “movement”.
    Are we supposed to take his word?
    I feel bad, like everything is imploding. Let’s hope he is not adding fuel to this fire
    J

    • Alitheia1875 says:

      Theodore Kalmoukos regularly gets a bad rap. Some of that is because of his bombast. Some of that stems from the fact that many people in positions of leadership and power do not want to hear what he has to say. Unfortunately for them, historically, a good amount of what he has said has proven to be true over the years, for example about missing monies at the GOA.

    • Greatly Saddened says:

      Theodore Kalmoukos should be commended for his reporting. He seems to be the only one who reports the truth or as close to the truth as possible. We cannot rely on the GOA to do so. Not in the past, nor in the present. They continue to cover up one scandal after another.

      In regard to the article, there is valid reason why the parishes, along with parish council members prefer to remain anonymous. I would venture to guess as time passes, the names of the parishes will be revealed.

      Along with laity, priests are reluctant to come forward because of being chastised by their Metropolitan. And unfortunately so. The consequences can be severe for doing so. All it takes are a few members of a parish council to get the ear of their Metropolitan and a priest is doomed. Case in point, Father Nicholas Kastanas, of Saint Athanasius the Great in Arlington, Massachusetts. A parish who has been been considered one of the best in the Metropolis of Boston, if not the entire GOA. After serving for nearly 28 years there, this incredible Christ centered man was fired via letter and sent packing in three days. He wasn’t even allowed to remove his personal belongins. During this fiasco, Metropolitan Methodios was vacationing in Greece. There is true concern for your fellow man. A true sign of Christiany at its lowest. The man is a disgrace. What makes matters worse is this not the first time he has acted this way towards a fellow priest and probably will not be the last either. Nor is he the only Hierarch/Metropolitan to do so. This seems to be more prevalent than we care to admit. In cases such as this one, our priests deserve the backing from laity. I commend the parishioners of Saint Athanasius for standing up to these bullies. Both the Metropolitan and those few parish council members.

      These Metropolitans seem to think they are God or Emperors. They are neither! They forget where they came from. The only way to make a statement is to unfortunately hold back money. It is high time to send a strong message laity has had enough of lies, deceit, scandals, cover ups, mismanagement, lack of accountability and transparency. Hit them right where it hurts, in the pocket! Perhaps then, the Archdiocese and Metropolises will finally get the message, loud and clear. What a shame and what an embarassment.

      • If Mr. Kalmoukos, and The National Herald are our best lead, and hope to the truth and saving Greek Orthodoxy in America from destruction, then game over.

        How much more Zorba, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, can we get than the National Herald. Love the Greek success story, and sordid tales of Greek Clergy Gone Wild? Then thats the paper for you! What’s next? The National Enquirer, and TMZ will save America from the swamp?

        Treating our stewardship as leverage to make a point is wrong and will not work, in fact it will backfire. Treating our first gifts to God, which doesn’t even belong to us, as political leverage against those who lead our churches is a sin. I have seen it first hand destroy two churches, and many souls leaving the church forever.

        What if all of our laity at least made an effort to tithe, the bishops attention might naturally gravitate to what the laity might have to say, instead of only having ears for rich donors. Perhaps even better candidates as priests. Again we get what we deserve, until we take a good look in the mirror, as a whole, we will remain Greatly Saddened

        • George Michalopulos says:

          You definitely have a point, Dino. Kalmoukos –like all of us–has an agenda. He represents a faction of East Coast Greek-Americans who decry the “de-Greekification” (for want of a better word or American Orthodoxy. For some reason they place the blame for this process at the feet of Arb Demetrius. On top of that, they think that by carrying water for the EP that this process will be somewhat reversed.

          That’s not to say that there hasn’t been misfeasance by underlings at 79th St during his tenure. It looks like there’s been a lot of it and more is coming out. It’s sad because I think the Archbishop is a good and pious man but he’s gonna take the fall.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says:

          Some here I believe are well-placed to explain this to me: what’s with the Greek stuff?
          As most know, I’m a GOA member. We just finished a great festival. Three of my grandkids were in the dance groups (Anglo-Caledonians all). The announcements are of welcome not only on behalf of the Church, but on behalf of the “Greek community”.
          We have lots of ethnics in the country, but the Greeks seem to go about it in a unique way. Why is that? It’s not like they haven’t been here for a long time…..

          • Tim,

            I attended a GOA parish for 8 years. Here’s how it appears to me.

            Greeks are very proud of their ethnic heritage well beyond being Orthodox Christians due to the profound contributions of their ancestors to human civilization. At the same time, Greeks were under Turkish rule for an extended period and thus there is a cultural carry over of dhimmi mentality – we are better than our external masters but have to make sure we are taken care of and toot our own horn in order to survive. It is similar to the mindset that many Jews have as well, due to the shared trauma, pride and conviction of self-reliance.

            While this is true, those Greeks like George who are honest, pious and savvy enough to see the forest for the trees put this mentality in context and compartmentalize it when it gets in the way of higher imperatives like the Gospel and Orthodox unity.

            I love the Greek people. Always will. And I have many fond memories of parish life. My godfather is Greek-American. I have not a negative word to say about Greek culture or the Greeks as people. They just have to be understood in context like everyone else and treated with love and patience.

            • Monk James says:

              This response by ‘Misha’ is very perceptive.

              I especially appreciate his comparison with the Jewish experience in America as a sort of tribal instinct which transcends all of the religious details.

              Still, as someone who is not of Greek ancestry, I haven’t ever found myself unwelcome among the Greeks, in church or otherwise, our Orthodoxy being what unites us.

          • Tim, For many Greeks, not most, but a good portion, the Greek community and the church are one in the same. While this is good in that the community is united, it is not so good in the attitude many have for The Church. While most come to church for the right reasons, many see church as something they HAVE TO DO to belong within the Greek community.

            One example, our dance groups, and basketball teams. As you might know, to belong to these groups the children must have a 70% attendance record in Sunday school. Rolls are taken, and given to the priests, if any problems with attendance, the priest removes the child from the group, becomes the bad guy, labeled mean, and “un-Christian like” to the children. Worse, the priest turns a blind eye to low attendance, and loses respect from those who attend church for the right reasons. Believe it, or not, one priest told me, he was even asked by a parent, what time Sunday school started, NOT Liturgy, Sunday school! You see many parents have no problem dropping off their children for Sunday School, while never attending Liturgy before hand with their children. Others with a little more dignity, will come late, right before the children line up for communion, and then go off to Sunday School. Sad part is we never see them late for Dance, and basketball practice or games. Priorities are reversed in this Dance, sports, and Greek language school first mentality. How often, I’ve heard the priest say,”Welcome back! Hope you all had a great summer!” on the first day of Sunday School.

            Once we can separate the Greek Social Club mentality from the Church, things will improve, for the GOA. The question is how, without driving many away in the process. Zorba can’t live forever, so I suppose all we can do is be patient, as our Nicks, and Marys get more and more watered down, with Bobs, and Janes in the mix.

            • Tim R. Mortiss says:

              Not actually complaining; I knew the score 100%, having had many associations with my church, and friends there, for over 30 years before I signed up. Nor does the considerable Greek in services cause me any problem; it’s how it is, and there’s plenty of English, too.

              But the public face needn’t be so Greek. A church that has a big sign on it that says “Greek Orthodox Church”, instead of “Orthodox Church” is one which 99.99% of passerby will conclude can have nothing to do with them.

              Those who come in might be said to be students of Orthodoxy beforehand. If the net were wider, more would come in.

              Just a little cognitive dissonance for me this year, I think. Three grandkids dancing; they love it and I think it’s great, but the announcements before the dances that the “Greek community welcomes you” did spin my sensorium a bit.

              • Monk James says:

                About sixty years ago, the priest at the local Greek Orthodox parish told me that their self-designation as ‘Greek Orthodox’ was a direct imitation of the Catholic churches’ calling themselves ‘Roman Catholic’.

                I’ve never been to Greece, but I have a feeling that our churches there are not identified as ‘Greek Orthodox’.

                What is Chinese food called in China? FOOD!

                • Tim R. Mortiss says:

                  Interesting, though while there are Greeks, there are no more Romans; thus is confusion avoided. Nobody says to himself, well, I’m not a Roman, so I wouldn’t be welcome there. Moreover, I don’t want to be a Roman, anyway.

                  Maybe Roman (Romaioi) Orthodox would do the trick! I hereby trademark the name, unless someone has beat me to it…..

                  As for Chinese food, wouldn’t it be nice if a Greek menu was like a Chinese menu? A real one, I mean, meant for the Chinese diners. Those things go on for dozens of pages….unimaginable variety!

              • Tim, It is what it is, only time will change the signage and attitudes. Most likely another generation or two. I am of 100% Greek heritage, and understand change is needed, to attract more souls, so their must be more like myself.

                Monk James, You are correct, but this is what happens when our church tries to please all arrivals to church, the cold, luke warm, and those on fire for Christ. With girls I would recommend serving the choir. My son was in the alter since age five, and loves helping the priest, even now as a teenager he will go to church alone, when we can’t make it, ever since he got his own car. No privilege more important than raising our little ones.

            • Monk James says:

              The worst problem here is that ‘Sunday school’ is taught DURING the Divine Liturgy.

              There are many who say that the DL is ‘too long’ for kids. Really? After twenty centuries we just began to think so?!

              NO! If their parents bring them to church from earliest infancy, our children grow to love the services. They are never so calm and comfortable as they are in church, surrounded by love and prayer and human voices praising God.

              But if we don’t bring them to church until they’re seven or eight years old, of course they’re going to squirm and be hard to handle.

              Anyway, having ‘Sunday school’ during the Divine Liturgy teaches our children only that it’s OK to be late for the services, to come in just in time for Holy Communion at the DL and then go right out .again.

              This broken pattern can and must be rethought and repaired.

              • Or even worse, I remember the Sunday School kids coming up from the lower level to receive Holy Communion, then to only go back downstairs to continue their “schooling.” Shameful.

  23. Greatly Saddened says:

    Athanasios,
    Please excuse me but at this point, it seems Mr
    Kalmoukos, and may I say for a very long time, has been reporting the truth, or as close to the truth, as possible. Unfortunately, some of us may not want the truth to be exposed for various reasons. So, we tend to look the other way and by doing so, nothing gets corrected. It just allows this three ring circus to continue.

    Now, in regard to the article. Surely you can understand why these parishes, along with the names of these members, who spoke to Mr. Kalmoukos, prefer for the present time, to remain anonymous.

    This is a very sad and may I add, also very dark time in the history of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. But, lack of trust continues.The lack of transparency, accountability and the mismanagement by the Archdiocese, and the Archdiocesan Council is inexcusable. They both have been entrusted to be good stewards of the money from laity and they have failed to do so. The Hierarchy, along with the Archdiocesan Council, seem to feel they are free to act as they please. As if they answer to no one but themselves. Both in my estimation are guilty. Where are the checks and balances? It seems the fox has been watching over the hen house, so to speak, and for way too long! It’s time to “Drain the Swamp,” and hold people accountable. If need be, even criminal action against those involved. The laity works hard for their money, and contribute it in good faith. Not for the lavish life styles of the Hierarchs and from what I have been reading, of some Archdocesan Council members as well.

    Personally, I am ashamed and have lost all faith in this institution. One which is supposed to be, I know, don’t
    laugh, Christ centered. They are the ones who should be setting the example for the faithful to follow. On both levels, the Hierarchs and the Archdiocesan Council. To see Priests who are Christ centered, to be ridiculed by their Hierarch and even fired for no valid reason. Case in point, Father Nicholas Kastanas, from Saint Athanasius the Great, in Arlington, Massachussetts. One of the best parishes of the Metropolis of Boston, if not the entire Archdiocese. Thank God for the parishioners of the parish, who stood up and continue to stand up for what is right and just. Shame on Metropolitan Methodios. This is not the first time he has discarded one of his own and unfortunately, not the last. The list is long for him and other Hierarchs. They seem to forget where they came from. The Hierarchs are neither God nor Emperor, but the sure seem to act as if they are. Don’t let them fool you with all the pomp and circumstance. It’s basically a show and they are the center of attention. They should try to practice what they preach. Along with of course, humility. Instead, it’s do as I say, not as I do. Nor are we subservient to them. We are to respect them, but I must admit, that is becoming harder to do, with each passing day.

    Once again, I thank snd commend Mr. Kalmoukos for having the guts and the fortitude in reporting what the Archdiocese has been so negligent in doing.

  24. Greatly Saddened says:

    George,

    This past Friday morning I attempted to respond to Athanasios. While in the process of proof reading and saving, I was informed my post was being considered as spam. I am concerned as to what happened.

    Thank you,
    Greatly Saddened

  25. Greatly Saddened says:
  26. Greatly Saddened says:

    The below article is from today’s The National Herald by Theodore Kalmoukos. “Dismissed Archdiocese Finance Chairman George Vourvoulias Speaks Exclusively to The National Herald.” The article was posted in its entirety on OCL’s website. Please see below.

    http://ocl.org/dismissed-archdiocese-finance-chairman-george-vourvoulias-speaks-exclusively-tnh/

  27. Greatly Saddened says:

    Below please find two of the three articles which were posted over the weekend. They are from OCL’s website in their entirety.

    http://ocl.org/leadership-100-grants-missing-greek-archdiocese/

    http://ocl.org/analysis-light-upcoming-greek-archdiocesan-council-meeting/

  28. Greatly Saddened says:

    Perhaps it is me, but from what I have read from the articles pertaining to George Vourvoulias. It seems he has been fired by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios from his position as Chairman of the Finance Committee, but is still on the Archdiocesan Council. Could this be in fact correct? It strikes me as rather strange. He should have taken it upon himself to resign from both. Unless, there is more behind the scenes we still do not know! What a travesty.

  29. The Herald has also interviewed George Vourvoulias about the shenanigans, but the interview says nothing, really,except for his denials and “I don’t know what to say” refrains. He continues to pledge allegiance to Bishop Dimitrious of Mokissos, again. , the same Bishop who was involved in the Milwaukee Annunciation scandals, which still have questions lingering. It’s a true cover-up.

  30. Greatly Saddened says:

    Interesting how a “Letter to the Editor” to The National Herald appeared earlier today and now has mysteriously disappeared. Doesn’t that seem rather strange?

    https://www.thenationalherald.com/177964/letter-editor-evangelos-good-leader-expensive-one/

  31. Greatly Saddened says:

    Today something strange happened which leads me to believe The National Herald, may not be as unbiased and impartial as I may have thought. I hope I am mistaken.

    Earlier today, there appeared a “Letter to the Editor,” by a Mr. Kalogianis, of New Jersey. It was pertaining to Metropolitan Evangelos not living within his Metropolis and the Metropolis incurring additional and unnecessary expenses. One could only venture to guess he was referring to the additional cost of tolls, fuel and down time of having to be both picked up and dropped off each day to his place of residence. If one now attempts to click on the link, it states, “Oops! That page can’t be found.” How convenient is that? It amazes me how this “Letter to the Editor” has mysteriously disappeared. I’m sure it was taken down in error and will reappear.

    If this newspaper prides itself in truly being fair and impartial, it should do what is proper and ethical and repost. I wouldn’t like to think it was purposely taken down to protect the above named Metropolitan.

    https://www.thenationalherald.com/177964/letter-editor-evangelos-good-leader-expensive-one/

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