Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

In this case, robbing the GOA clergy pension fund so the checks keep coming to Paul –er Patriarch Bartholomew, so he can continue to keep his little empire running over places you won’t find on any map, and to ensure his pet project is brought to fruition.

No surprise here.  It’s all about him. 

So Archbishop Elpidophoros Lambrianides and Fr Alex Karloutsos get to pass on the bad news, always framed as “good news”:  The Archdiocese will no longer be bothered with having to contribute to the pension fund for GOA priests, which interestingly, was Elpi’s No. 1 priority (or so he said at the time) when he arrived on our fair shores.  

Let’s put our cards on the table:  Bartholomew, through Karloutsos, moved the goalposts.  It’s no secret Bartholomew wants St Nicholas built and nothing, not even taking care of our priests in their old age, matters to him more than that.

As for the good Archbishop, black lives seemingly matter more than the good priests entrusted to his care.   You won’t see “Sunflower” marching up and down the street demanding justice for them.  He just throws them under the bus. 

I’m going to tell you right here, right now:  Gail and I will NEVER enter that monstrosity of a building, as it will only remind us of the sacrifice the good priests of the GOA had to make because the leadership of that archdiocese has been allowed to take a “little here” and take a “little there,” causing a shortfall of $80 million that no one has yet explained or cares to explain.

The Archdiocese has been hurting for money and the implementation of the draconian measures they employed to address the virus certainly didn’t help.  So in typical GOA style, they are going to transfer the burden from the Archdiocese and put it somewhere else.  In this case on our priests.  

Ss Peter and Paul would be dusting off their feet about now.


Abp. Elpidophoros Declares War on the Metropolitans and Clergy

Every GOA Metropolitan and Auxiliary Bishop may be out of a job . . .


Archbishop Elpidophoros has officially declared that the dedicated and faithful clergy serving in the GOA have become a major liability not worthy of receiving any future investment by the Archdiocese.

Yesterday, the Archbishop issued a public statement essentially forcing the clergy of the Archdiocesan Benefits Committee to eliminate the current Pension Program for the sake of something more financially viable for the GOA. His Eminence’s position on this matter is quite clear. The financial welfare of the clergy is a liability to the Archdiocese and His Eminence cannot continue to support them.

Why does His Eminence refuse to support the Clergy Pension Program?

The answer is rather simple. It would require His Eminence to make cuts to the Archdiocesan budget; something that His Eminence seems unwilling to do.

At this moment in time, it has become imperative for everyone (clergy and laymen) to get on the same page about the proposed changes happening in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The Archdiocese is about to undergo a significant turning point. This is a turning point that will either bring the faithful together or destroy what little we have remaining as an Archdiocese.

The Archbishop wants to persuade the faithful that the direction and outcome seem inevitable, that this is a difficult choice that must be made. But have all the options been considered? The clergy have barely been given enough information to examine this rushed decision, but that is only because our Metropolitans have gone silent and refuse to publicly support them.  The end result of their silence is the Metropolitans have permitted Archbishop Elpidophoros and Father Alex Karloutsos to run wild, like little children, with misplaced priorities, destroying everything we have spent generations to build and work towards.

Need proof?

Just examine the actions that have transpired this past week.

The GOA recently declared that the Clergy Pension program is at least $50 million dollars underfunded. Many clergymen have indicated that the number is more likely to be $70 million dollars underfunded. Instead of fulfilling their fiduciary responsibility, Archbishop Elpidophoros instructed Elaine Allen, the Archdiocesan Council Treasurer, and Lou Kircos, the Archdiocesan Finance Committee Chairman, to force the clergy serving on the Archdiocesan Benefits Committee to accept a new retirement plan (i.e. 403(b) plan) that would eliminate any need for future contributions by the Archdiocese into the program.

According to Archbishop Elpidophoros, the Shrine in New York is more worthy of receiving an investment than our clergy.

This has caused Clergy Syndesmos meetings to be called in almost every Metropolis. The clergy have been discussing at length at how upset and angry they are with Archbishop Elpidophoros and Father Alex Karloutsos. There have even been discussions of a class-action lawsuit if this proposed change goes into effect.

The clergy are being asked to sacrifice their family’s future financial stability in order for Archbishop Elpidophoros to make a claim at the upcoming virtual Clergy-Laity that His Eminence removed all the liabilities from the GOA.

But what the Archbishop is unwilling to recognize is that there is currently enough funds in the pension program to last about 9 years, if that.  That means any clergyman 56 years of age or younger, who has put 20+ years of service in, will have to start their retirement fund over again, starting at $0 dollars, because the Archbishop considers investing in those clergymen to be a liability to the GOA.

It is doubtful that Archbishop Elpidophoros and his henchmen have considered what will happen when the Archbishop Benefits Committee rejects their plan, because that will likely be the case.

And where have the Metropolitans been during all this? Why are they not publicly defending their clergymen? Why are they not standing up against this injustice and say we cannot treat our clergymen like this? How are they going to advocate for future young men to pursue the priesthood vocation knowing that their families will not be taken care of after decades of dedicated service to the Church?

By staying silent, our Metropolitans have given their blessings for the wolves to go after the clergymen. And let us be absolutely clear about who the wolves are in this unfolding situation. The wolves are Archbishop Elpidophoros, Father Alex Karloutsos, Elaine Allen and Lou Kircos.

The Metropolitans have become like dead-beat dads, unwilling to provide for their children.

But that may all change very soon.

Yesterday, the Vicar General of the Archdiocese, Father Alex Karloutsos, wrote a letter that provided a glimpse into the direction Archbishop Elpidophoros will be pursing in the near future. It has been extensively rumored over the past year that the Metropolitans will be forced into retirement. And now, we have an idea of how it is going to happen.

There are two resolutions that we will likely see introduced at the virtual Clergy-Laity Assembly in September. You can read more about them here. The first resolution would establish a mandatory retirement age for every clergyman of the GOA at the age of 75. For those clergymen currently exceeding that age and still serving in active ministry, they would be grandfathered into the resolution to still be permitted to serve for two more years of active ministry. After which, they would be required to retire.

Let us examine how this resolution would impact the current Metropolitans of the Eparchial Synod if it were to be approved at the upcoming Clergy-Laity Assembly in September.

First, under the guidelines, the first Metropolitan to retire would be on:

November 19, 2021 – Metropolitan Methodios of Boston (b: 11/19/1946) – Current Age 73

Next, the active Metropolitans over the age of 75, who will still be permitted to serve until September 2022, include:

Metropolitan Isaiah of Denver (b. ~1931) – Age 89

Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta (b: 12/25/1943) – Age 76

Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco (b: 8/2/1945) – Age 74 (will be 75 before Clergy-Laity)

They would each be given two more years of service under the resolution and be forced to retire in September of 2022.

Finally, the following Metropolitans under the age of 75 years old would be obliged to resign in the following time frame:

  • ~2029 – Metropolitan Nicholas of Detroit (b: 1953) – Age 66
  • June 11, 2032 – Metropolitan Savas of Pittsburgh (b: 6/11/1957) – Age 63
  • September 20, 2036 – Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey (b: 9/20/1961) – Age 58
  • ~2053 – Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago (b: 1978) – Age 41

Through this resolution alone, there are four active Metropolitans that would be forced into retirement over the next two years.

However, there is a second resolution that the Archbishop is planning to introduce at Clergy-Laity that would force all the Metropolitans AND Auxiliary Bishops to retire immediately.

This second resolution involves eliminating the separate retirement plan for all our hierarchs in the Archdiocese of America. Under the bishop’s retirement plan, the Metropolitans and Auxiliary Bishops will receive a retirement benefit of 80% of their salary (inclusive of the 23.4% of their annual earnings paid out through the GOA Pension Program). The proposed change would require two things to happen, if approved at Clergy-Laity:

1) Once approved, the Archdiocese will terminate and cancel all obligations under the Bishop’s Plan after 30 days of going into effect. As a result, there will be one, singular and exclusive plan for all ranks of the priesthood.

And more importantly,

2) Hierarchs who retire as of the date of the enactment of the resolution or who retire with the 30 days of the date of the enactment of the resolution by submitting their written resignations to the Holy and Sacred Patriarchal Synod, will retain their rights, if any, under the terms of the Bishop’s plan.

If the Clergy-Laity approves this resolution, the Bishop’s plan and obligations of it will cease to exist after 30 days it is approved, which would be around October 10th, 2020.

In order for all the Bishops to receive 80% of the salary retirement benefit, they must submit a written resignation letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch by October 10, 2020, again, if the resolution is approved.

This resolution almost guarantees that four Metropolitans (Methodios, Isaiah, Alexios and Gerasimos) and one auxiliary bishop (Sebastian) will be retiring by October 10, 2020.

Let us quickly examine what would happen for the others that may not chose to submit a resignation letter.

Specifically, the previously discussed issue involving the significant changes being made to the Clergy Pension program would now directly impact all the hierarchs.

There might barely be enough money to cover Metropolitan Nicholas if he retires at 75, but you can certainly count everyone under him to not have any access to the pension funds if they wait till 75 to retire.

Certainly, by the time Metropolitans Savas and Evangelos retire at the age of 75, the current projection is there will likely be no money remaining for their retirements because Archbishop Elpidophoros considers them along with their clergy to be a liability to the Archdiocese.

If the Archbishop gets his way, Metropolitans Savas of Pittsburgh, Evangelos of New Jersey and Nathanael of Chicago would have to switch to the 403(b) Retirement Plan, which would only be funded by their direct contributions. It is a little too late for Metropolitans Savas and Evangelos to get started on that given how close he is the age of retirement. Metropolitan Nathanael would have 25 years to build his 403(b), but that will be taxable income when he withdraws it.

However, if all the Metropolitans retire by October 10, 2020, including Metropolitan Nathanael, they will be guaranteed 80% of their salary each year until they die. From a financial perspective, it makes sense for the Metropolitans to retire immediately. They, of course, can continue to find other lay jobs for supplemental income.

Father Alex Karloutsos and Archbishop Elpidophoros know that this is too big of a loss for our Metropolitans if they reject it, especially given the uncertainty of the current Pension Program. So, by moving forward with this resolution at Clergy-Laity, they are hoping that all the Metropolitans and Auxiliary Bishops will take an early retirement. This will allow Archbishop Elpidophoros to elect all new Auxiliary Bishops that will serve directly under him.

Forget having Metropolitans. That system will be eliminated from our Charter. We will likely be reverting back to the older model.

So, what good did it do for our Metropolitans to stay quiet and bend to the will of Archbishop Elpidophoros and Father Alex Karloutsos? In the end their collective silence ensured that they all would be out of a job on October 10th, 2020, unless they go against the Archbishop and fight this at Clergy-Laity.


  1. anonsayswhat says

    I find this to be a nefarious plot to take out some of the older Metropolitans sooner than later, like Isaiah, and Alexios. Gerasimos and Methodios are somewhat close with Elpidoforos and Co. but if not, their ideologies align and that would be enough to keep them around a little longer as exceptions to the rule, until other replacements are found or are needed.
    These actions have a purpose, and it’s not only for control, or even to conserve money to complete the shrine. They are preparing for some event – so that the GOA can seem to be all in agreement. My prediction of this event will be the Patriarch will move to “unite” with the Pope in the next year or two to come.
    I mean, does this not seem submissive on part of Methodios? As if to say symbolically, “I’m only a priest, and I must comply to everything you say.”

    • Gail Sheppard says

      I’ll do you one better! On the occasion of the 1,700th anniversary of the Council of Nicea (June 2025), Francis and Bartholomew will announce their decision to unite the Church. – It’s not really a prediction on my part. They pretty much said this is what they were going to do when they met in 2014.

      • rjklancko says

        Aren’t they supposed to be poor monks?  Then don’t they retire to a monastery?  If so, doesn’t the church support them. If so, why is an expensive pension needed?  Otherwise, they are corporate executives, and as such aren’t their vows of poverty obviated?

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I think you are confusing two stories. I was talking about Pope Francis and Bartholomew. Poor monks, they are not, and they don’t retire. They have their positions for life.

          The issue with the pensions is part of another story about the GOA. To save the archdiocese money, it will no longer contribute to the pensions of their priests. Priests are not monks; they are men with families. They do not take a vow of poverty and they do not retire to monasteries.

  2. Austin Martin says

    Well you know the old saying, “Beware of Greeks even when bearing gifts.”
    Or as George Orwell said, “Trust a snake before a Jew and a Jew before a Greek, but don’t trust an Armenian.”
    While on one hand I’m really disturbed by this, I’m finding it hard to have sympathy for the metropolitan bishops. Most of them spent decades sucking up to Bartholomew — especially Met Nicholas — and all of them gradually ceded their authority for the appearance of some kind of unified organization. Not a single one spoke out against the Ukraine annexation. Not a single one pushed back against the COVID measures. Now they’re being cast aside at the last moment.
    This always happens in a revolution. The inner circle of collaborators is always the first to be purged.
    And you can say, “Will Bartholomew be able to get away with this?”, but I think we’ve all learned over the last couple years that Bartholomew can get away with anything. He’s not the empty figurehead that he looks like, though that’s the fault of the metropolitan bishops.

    • George Michalopulos says

      I don’t disagree with your assessment at all. However to assume that the EP has “won” is a stretch. Given the destruction that has been wrought upon the Church during his tenure, whatever victories he’s accumulated are all pyrrhic ones.

      It’s doubtful that even with the removal of the metropolitans (an unfortunate decision in the first place), it will become even more apparent that the GOA is an empty husk of what it was under the tenure of Iakovos.

      • Austin Martin says

        It just came through today that the GOA synod preemptively rejected mandatory retirement.
        I guess Bartholomew hit too close to home. Number one rule of ruling is that no one rules alone. You have to appease your immediate subordinates or they’ll stage a coup.
        As for whether Bartholomew has “won” or will “win”, I think he has a very different idea of winning than most of us. For Bartholomew, winning is about achieving certain benchmarks in the world, and it has nothing to do with preserving something his ancestors gave to him.
        The GOA is going through what much of America is going through. The immigrants came and realized America was a unique opportunity, so they built something as an investment for their kids. But now their kids are grown up and don’t realize how valuable their inheritance is, so they just throw it away. Everything has a cost, but nothing has a value.

  3. Another of a million (or is it 80 million) reasons to ship this clown back to Halki and his full time job as headmaster to zero students.  I’d contribute to a fund encouraging the turks to make his life more interesting than it ever has been.  Cut off the patriarch of Istanbul immediately.  Change the phone number, don’t reply to emails.  Again, let the turks have the phanar for the good of the actual Church.  Neither man will be missed.

  4. Again, actions like the above are only symptoms of the real disease.
    I expect it is too much to hope for that the GOA will reconsider its position, disease,
    regarding placing ethnicity above and before ORTHODOXY. Some parishes are true
    and devoted Orthodox but most are clubs to have a place to go and talk,
    aka cafeneon. The priests are taking the hit as well as parishioners by being
    drawn away from the truth, Jesus, with the unGodly actions not only
    of the above but a history of placing being Greek above ORTHODOXY.
    Club membership is limited to DNA verification. Now the emphasis is to have all GOA
    under the Archbishop thus as it was. Watch for the hammer to fall and union will take
    place with nary sound as the Archbishop has inferred, he is in favor of one united Orthodox Church in America, under his (EP) control. The GOA has abandoned its role as potential leader of Orthodoxy in America.
    Are these actions what Christ meant when he sent the apostles out to preach. Where are the modern day apostles, only the priests?
    Pray for all, all the clergy that they will be in God’s will for our salvation and His glory.

  5. Alitheia 1875 says

    There are two reasons the Patriarch prevailed regarding Elpidophoros becoming archbishop. The first is that when the Patriarch says jump Elpidophoros says “how high”. The second reason is that Elpidophoros will be on next plane when Bartholomew dies. He’s the heir apparent although there will be some opposition. He needed to be a bishop of a major Archdiocese in order to have creds to become patriarch because he never had administrative and pastoral duties of a real parish, much less a diocese, before becoming archbishop of the GOA.

  6. Looks like the plan of the GOA leadership was nipped in the bud by the EP:
    “Following a discussion, it is stated that in accordance with the Sacred Canons of the Orthodox Church, there is no age limit for the exercise of the duties of Hierarchs. The retirement from active ministry (or not) of an individual Hierarch is entrusted exclusively to the individual choice and sole judgment of said Hierarch. Furthermore, it is noted that within the Ecumenical Patriarchate, no such age limits are applied.”


  7. THE IMPACT OF MONOMAKHOS. Justin in this issue as well as the EP’s statement about not changing Holy Communion perhaps the impact of Monomakhos is manifest.  

    I know serveral Orthodox priests who sadly disagree with Orthodox Ethos (OE) for differing reasons, some of whom disagree with Patristic Orthodoxy itself, and yet clearly keep up with Monomakhos.  In one instance I attended a Divine Liturgy the morning after posting here and on Byzantine TX and OE about my concerns, never dreaming the priest frequented the internet. However, the homily practically quoted my comments verbatim while the priest described every position and concern expressed as very wrong because of disobedience.  Of course perhaps I just unconsciously assimilated all and he summarized it as I had, but it was so startling that morning that I guffawed aloud and then had to compose myself to decide whether he would welcome me at Holy Communion. Fortunately he did. 

    I do of course wish all would not stoop to the name-calling Christ warned us about doing about our fellow icons of Christ however mistaken their actions or teachings are because I think it dilutes our impact as Orthodox (just as Trump’s unfortunate language does the same at times), but other than that, Monomakhos seems to be an effective way to protest peacefully and be heard.  And disagreeing priests in my personal experience thus far seem to feel more respected if we do not disagree one on one, which wish I am glad to honor.

    • rjklancko says

      In the business world we say that if you have been in the same job for more than ten years and haven’t been promoted, you are considered to have plateaued and need to be replaced. You cease being an effective leader and are a caretaker. Ergo, it is healthy to have a turnover, and having a date certain to resign is not a bad idea. But of course if you are in the sanctified bretheren brotherhood, keeping the inner circle in place can be a priority, which may not be in the best interest of the organization.

      • The Church is not the business world, though. Clergy (both priests and bishops ) are married to their parishes/dioceses and are supposed to stay there until they die.

        • rjklancko says

          Why? Where is that in the Bible?  Periodic turnover is healthy, isn’t it?  Shouldn’t we be doing what is best for the  church? There is time to pass the torch to a new generation

          • Where is the secular business model in the Bible? Not there. Although I will point out that Moses led Israel until he died, as did Joshua and everyone else afterwards. I don’t see retirement in the Bible.
            Sorry, Bob, we’re not Sola Scriptura. We have the Holy Tradition and the canons of the Church to guide us, and neither of them have the secular business model.

    • Michael Bauman says

      Nicole, your friend at 8th Day says hi back

  8. ☺️?   Thank you, Michael!