BOSTON, MA – Following a strong reaction generated throughout the Greek-American community after The National Herald revealed that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America planned to incur a $10 million bank loan and use the two buildings in Manhattan that comprise its headquarters as collateral, the Archdiocese is now exploring other methods of obtaining the money.
Specifically, the issue of a loan was recently discussed at meetings of the Archdiocese’s Eparchial Synod and Executive Council, where it was said Archbishop Demetrios and the Executive Committee would ask Leadership 100 and also Faith: for Orthodoxy and Hellenism for the $10 million to pay its debts. Reportedly, Demetrios said during the Synod meeting that there is so much money around the Archdiocese – referring to those two organizations – “but we can’t use it.”
It is reminded here that in 1998 Leadership 100, under the chairmanship of George Behrakis, became an independent corporation from the Archdiocese and moved from the Archdiocese to the Olympic Tower, also in Manhattan. Behrakis made that move in order to securely protect Leadership 100 funds from possible lawsuits for pedophile and other sexual misconduct cases by clergy. Leadership 100 rules prohibit the organization to give money to the Archdiocese for operational expenses or loans, as that would endanger its nonprofit status.
TNH has learned that Demetrios and Tsandikos – who until February was Leadership 100’s Chairman – will be confronted by that organization’s board when they approach it for the loan.
If the Archdiocese’s alternative approach is unsuccessful, the only option left, apparently, will be to obtain the loan from a bank. The Executive Committee has withheld a final decision, and expects the audit results to be concluded by July in order to present the report at the Clergy-Laity Congress, scheduled for July 1-5 in Boston, MA.
At the Synod meeting, Demetrios repeated he knew nothing about the Archdiocese’s financial situation, reportedly saying “I knew whatever you knew.” Metropolitans Isaiah of Denver and Nicholas of Detroit who is also the locum tenens of the Metropolis of Chicago, did not attend the Synod’s meeting.
The Synod made reference to the case of Archimandrite Gerasimos Makris, who “had engaged at separate times in inappropriate relations with two women” according to a letter by Archdiocesan Chancellor Bishop Andonios of Phasiane. It was said in the Synod that there is a portion of the Holy Cross parish in Brooklyn where he served for eleven years who want him to return, regardless of what the case might be. It was also said that Archimandrite Makris had gone for psychological testing, and although he realizes that what has occurred is considered wrong, he doesn’t see it that way. The Archdiocese will send him to another psychologist for evaluation.
The Synod also discussed the situation of Hellenic College and Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, where there are also financial problems and that the number of the students in both Schools is 170, while applications for admissions for the new academic year are low. The Synod’s announcement follows.
The Holy Eparchial Synod of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America convened its regular meeting at the Synodal chamber of the Holy Archdiocese in New York on March 15 and 16, 2018, presided by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America.
The Synod reviewed all the topics of its agenda: liturgical, canonical, administrative, pastoral, inter Orthodox and educational. Following extensive deliberations the Synod took appropriate decisions.
The Holy Synod had the opportunity to meet once again with the Director of the Youth Department of the Holy Archdiocese, Mr. Steven Christoforou, and review for the final time the Regulations for the Protection of Children, which subsequently were approved by the Synod. This program will be implemented by the parishes of the Holy Archdiocese within the next two years.
The meeting with Mr. Steven Christoforou included also extensive discussion about Young Adults (ages 18-35) and ways to reach out to them. Noteworthy is that recently there is an increase of efforts and formation of new groups of Young Adults in each Metropolis of the Archdiocese. It was also noted that the parishes must intensify the spiritual aspect in the youth programs besides the athletic, dance and cultural programs.
For the financial situation, it was said that the financial audit continues and it is foreseen that due to the reduction of the personnel of the Archdiocese and the efforts for better management, the Archdiocese will have a surplus for the current year of two million dollars, which will be applied toward the payable obligations. In addition His Eminence shared with members of the Synod details regarding efforts of the Archdiocese in obtaining a loan to fulfill her financial obligations.
The members of the Synod had the opportunity to discuss issues related to the organization and programs of the upcoming Clergy Laity Congress in Boston Massachusetts, July 2-5, 2018 with the theme, Everything is possible to the one who believes in Christ, (see Mark 9:23). It was also decided that all presentations at the Clergy Laity Congress will be done in full transparency. Furthermore, a panel discussion will take place led by expert panelists on the subject of Youth and Family.
Following the conclusion of the meeting of the Synod, the members of the Synod participated in the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council.