Let the Parishes Decide

The Archdiocese again raised the annual assessment of parishes’ economic contributions.
Many priests and parish council presidents and members told The National Herald that “the situation has become unbearable.” After all it is the parish and its congregants who pay everything and everybody at the Archdiocese. Everything comes down to the candles, the trays, and the donations.
Every so often, the parish “taxation” goes up despite the fact that many parishes are struggling to make ends meet financially. There are parishes that were forced to incur bank loans just to meet their expenses. There is a constant beggary on behalf of the Archdiocese, the local Metropolis, the parish, the School of Theology, the St. Basil’s Academy, and the Ionian Village.
On top of all of this, there are now the Monasteries established by Elder Ephraim around the country that are asking for financial assistance. They send out calendars, incenses, and papers to complete with names for commemoration.
There is a system in place that centers on the faithful with constant weekly requests asking them to give more and more. Many faithful are sick and tired of this endless beggary.
The Archdiocese presses the Metropolises, the Metropolises press the parishes, and the parishes press the faithful.
I certainly understand that the Archdiocese must be sustained, but sometimes the constant beggary becomes too much. A cultish-type culture of pay, pray, and obey has been instituted. It seems that no one dares to ask questions as to how the funds are spend at the Archdiocese. Who controls what and who decides for what? Who and by whose standards are salaries set? How many employees are there at the Archdiocese and what is their job description?
Archdiocese officials in the lax environment of their offices cumulate the increases of the annual financial “obligation” to the Archdiocese in most cases, as I am in position to know, without any prior consultation with the parishes. They don’t seem to care how the monies will be raised. Some Archdiocesan officials, clerics, and laity have the audacity to say to the faithful: instead of buying coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts or the Starbucks give the money to your parish.
If there weren’t “heroic” Greek Festivals with that Dionysian spirit of eating and drinking that transform parishes into Greek restaurants, many parishes could not survive financially. That is the bitter truth.
Two of every parish’s biggest expenses is the annual “obligation” to the Archdiocese and the priest’s salary. I am not saying that the priest and his family shouldn’t live comfortably, but there is a huge difference between descent and a lavish lifestyle. As far as the celibate priests are concerned, they should go where they belong: to a monastery. If they stay in the secular world, their salaries should be minimal because they don’t have any family obligations, as married priests do.
I think that the time has come for transforming the system because the faithful can’t take anymore. Here is the proposal: let every parish to decide how much to give to the Archdiocese annually, according to its financial strength and ability. The myth of the so- called ministries should be stopped. Let the parishes tell the Archdiocese this is how much we can afford – take it or leave it.
If the Archdiocese or the local Metropolis start to threaten the parish that “we will take your priest away,” the answer should be: “go ahead and take him, and you pay his salary and all the benefits.”
Let us not forget that without the People of God, the Church, Archbishops, Metropolitans, priests and deacons cannot exist. They all are salaried “employees” of the People of God, the Church.

3 Comments

  1. Well after all, without such burdensome assessments placed on the backs of parishioners, how would The Metropolis of Chicago Clergy Syndesmos be able to afford celebrating corrupt Bishops at one of Chicago’s finest steakhouses, Chicago Cut:
    http://chicago.goarch.org/news/2017/1/11/anniversary-banquet-held-in-chicago

    My yiayia would be rolling in her grave if she knew her tithe was used to bankroll dinners for corrupt Hierarchs at places she could not herself afford.

  2. Mr. Kalmoukos is very unfortunately for all of us 100% correct. His assessment of the growing deterioration of the Greek Orthodox Church in America is falling on deaf ears, as his spot on analysis is being ignored by virtually all segments of the greater Church. These individuals who call themselves leaders of the flock are so arrogant and insulated that the irony of holding a dinner at the Chicago Cut Steakhouse to pat themselves on the back is almost unbelievable. It is the leadership equivalent of a dictator telling his troops that the war is going well and they are winning just before he drinks the cyanide taking his own life.
    To make matters even more bizarre a well know former Priest of the Metropolis of Chicago was given permission from the Direct District (the Archdiocese) to fly in and tell the troops that they had the best bishop in the world! What can be done? A friend of mine recently told me the way he copes with the demise of the Church is to pretend that he is watching a beloved relative die. It is no wonder the Metropolis of Chicago needs a “Public Relations” person.

  3. Theodore,
    Yours is a factual, and well written article. At our parish,we have a non-married Priest that has a total compensation package of approximately $160,000 per year. Its important to remember that many Priests take the majority of their income in the form of housing and car allowance which is non-taxable income. In other words, one would need to gross up this yearly income to have a true indicator of earnings. This puts their yearly income in the top 5% nationally.

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