Archdiocese Should Be Open with the Greek American Community About Its Financial Status

Author: Theodore Kalmoukos
Date Published: 11/15/2008
Publication: The National Herald

For almost two months now, the country has fallen into a financial crisis, the most serious one after the great depression of 1929. The least that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese should have done was to inform its flock about the state of its finances.

The faithful who sustain the Archdiocese, including the salaries
and the benefits of the clergy of all ranks with their contributions, donations, dues and the candles have the right to know the state of the finances of their Church. It is only
fair and a basic element of honesty and transparency to tell the congregants if the current financial crisis has caused any losses, how much, and what should be done from this
point on. The funds of the Church are “sacred” in a way, because they are the expression of faith and devotion of its members so that the work of Christ can be done today. The Leadership 100 has set the example by going public and informing its membership and the entire Community that they lost almost $15 million and that they are seeking alternative ways to raise at least some funds in order to somewhat continue giving the annual grants.

The leadership of the Archdiocese should speak openly and responsibly about the Retirement Fund of the Clergy so that its beneficiaries can be at peace not only to those who already receive their retirement benefits, but also to those who are about to retire. After all, these funds or a good portion of them, are given by the parishes as we read in the recent article about clergy remuneration.

The Archdiocese should open their books about the Special Fire Relief Fund that was established by the Archdiocese to support the victims of the deadly fires in Greece in August 2007. The Archdiocese has unjustifiably delayed the distribution of the money collected specifically for that purpose. The National Herald had reported on February 15, 2008 that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America decided to donate the amount of $1,652,998 to purchase feed and foraging seed for 2,000 farming families in the Peloponnesus area that had been stricken by last summer’s deadly fires.

In a news release issued by the Archdiocese on February 6, 2008, it was stated that “the Archdiocese had collected in a Special Relief Fund the sum of $3,946,989 as well as $28,241 in interest.”

After February 2008, the Archdiocese has not given any report up to now about the $2,293,991 remaining in the account. It is imperative to let us know where this $2,293,991 has gone. Have it been distributed and if so, where, how and when? If not, an explanation should be given to the community, as well as to who manages these funds, if there are losses. We have already entered into the second winter season and the fire victims continue to face great difficulties. Besides that, I do not think it is ethical to withhold money, which belongs to fire victims. Also, it is a matter of credibility of the Archdiocese itself, because if it wants to hold another money drive, who is going to donate?

An explanation should be given about the $3 million from the sale of the late Archbishop Iakovos house. Where is that money? Who manages it? Were there any losses due to the current financial crisis? How is the money going to be used?

I strongly believe that the Archdiocese should make public the
amount of the out-of- court settlement for the Katinas pederasty case. It is not right to be covered under the confidentiality agreement saying that it is a common practice in these types of cases. We are talking about the Church and
not just some corporation. This money is the sacred offers of the faithful for the holy mission of the Church and not to pay the squalidness of Katinas.

It seems that many at the Archdiocese forget that the contributions of the faithful sustain the churches, pay the salaries of every clergy and lay employee at the Archdiocese, the hierarchs ruling and auxiliaries, including, of course, the Archbishop and his rental apartment in Manhattan. It also pays all the benefits, leased cars, cellular phones and all the travel expenses, local and abroad, of the employees of the Archdiocese.

The officials of the Archdiocese should be extremely cautious because the economic crisis might have started a chain reaction. If the faithful are financially influenced by the crisis, it will be transmitted to the local parishes and consequently to the Archdiocese, unless we anticipate the conversion of the 60 million unchurched Americans to fill our churches and coffers, as Archbishop Demetrios declared at the last Clergy-Laity Congress in Washington in July.

Should we estimate that three million unchurched Americans
were converted in the past five months? It is only fair that the
Archdiocese provide us with some accurate numbers on this issue as well.