John A. Catsimatidis Calls on Archbishop Demetrios to Resign

John Catsimatidis. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, file)

NEW YORK – Prominent Greek-American businessman and great benefactor of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, Mr. John A. Catsimatidis, in an open letter calls on His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America to resign because he has led the Church to a dire condition.

Catsimatidis wrote that “The financial mismanagement that has occurred is inexcusable. Saint Nicholas at Ground Zero should be our crowning jewel; instead we are a national embarrassment. The Archdiocese has misused funds, the priests’ pensions, and God knows what else! The Seminary is in danger of closing, but the Archbishop refuses to resign, saying that he wants to fix the problems. But he is the one who was in charge when these problems happened in the first place!”

He emphasizes that “unfortunately, Archbishop Demetrios is holding on to his office at the expense of the Church.”

The entire text of Catsimatidis’ open letter follows:

I have been involved in Church affairs my whole life.

As an Altarboy, as a donor to numerous Churches, Ministries and Institutions, as an advisor, as Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council, as a participant in the life of our Archdiocese.

I served both Archbishops prior to Archbishop Demetrios and I have never seen a worse crisis than what we are facing now.

Loss of Credibility

Unfortunately, Archbishop Demetrios is holding on to his office at the expense of the Church.

The time has come for the crisis of Church leadership and management to come to a close.

The financial mismanagement that has occurred is inexcusable. Saint Nicholas at Ground Zero should be our crowning jewel; instead we are a national embarrassment. The Archdiocese has misused funds, the priests’ pension, and God knows what else! The Seminary is in danger of closing, but the Archbishop refuses to resign, saying that he wants to fix the problems. But he is the one who was in charge when these problems happened in the first place!

When I think of my late friends, Nicholas Bouras and Michael Jaharis, and how they supported Archbishop Demetrios, and how their sacrifices have been squandered by a combination of inexperience and pride, I feel embarrassed that this has been allowed to go on.

Archbishop Demetrios is ninety years old, and whatever good he did is now being wasted by his refusal to accept responsibility, and his desire for position and glory. But there is no glory in failure.

All of us, clergy and laity alike, are responsible for the health of our Church. I, for one, know there are many who are ready and willing to step up and fix the problems. But we will only step up to our responsibilities when the Archbishop accepts his responsibility for the mess we are in and steps down.

Even retired Pope Benedict says it was his “duty” to resign from papacy.

Your Eminence its time that you retire.

It should be done before the Clergy Laity Congress.

Let’s have a New Beginning for the Church on America’s 4th of July.

John A. Catsimatidis

Former Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council

48 Comments

  1. Johnnie Gats needs to resign.
    We know he bought Gristedes with church money Karloutsos lent him.

    1. Loras Camzekes, you should be very careful whom you slander and accuse of stealing, fraud and embezzlement. There is no way this side of the moon that Fr. Alex Karloutsos would use church funds in such a manner. And who is “we” who know such a thing happened? You can bet however much money you might have that no such thing ever happened.

      1. People will find out the truth soon enough from the State and Federal investigations on the ARCHO and Saint Nick. Their lies and bogus financial reports reports wont work on a Federal Grand Jury. You think it’s only Demetrios behind it all? Lets just say he wont be the only one getting his fingerprints taken.

        Ephesians 5:11 “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

      2. PS……John Catsimatidis bought the Gristedes chain of supermarkets in 1986. That was 32 years ago. Care to amend your comment about where the money came from?

    2. You just said (lent)him?Well even if he did borrow money,he did return I am sure,HE DID NOT STEAL. There is a huge difference between the two words,and actions.

  2. Fascinating yet poorly written letter. Perhaps the author who touts his service to the church in the past should have attended Archdiocesan Council meeting the last 15 plus years. Sounds like sour grapes since he wasn’t appointed Vice Chairman under this Archbishop. Careful where you throw stones. Once again, a man of means reminding us of his wealth. Actions speak much louder than words.

    1. And your “actions” Mr. Concerned Archon – what were they like? Enlighten us…

      1. John Cats wasn’t reappointed as Vice Chairman because he wouldn’t go along with the impractical and impossible spending and nonsense of Demetrios and company. Thus, he was “punished”. Actually, they did him a favor and he kept his money and sanity. John is also a benevolent dictator, he has to do it his way. He knows numbers, real estate, profit loss, negotiating, and getting stuff done. In many ways, he’s precisely what’s needed because he won’t cut checks without his own signature. The real question is where was “Concerned Archon” for the last 15 years , as this organization was devolving? I know, at an Archon Dinner wanting to reopen Halki as the # 1 priority of the US failing church.

      2. Thank you John for having the courage to speak up. The truth obviously hurts some of the readers. John hs been generous to many organizations and just because he is not publicizing that fact doesn’t mean he is not doing it. John is self made and has been generous to the church throughout the years

  3. I hardly think so Loras! Those types of statements can land you in a lot of trouble! Johnny Cats is absolutely correct and one thing I can tell you, the Greek community needs more of its billionaires involved in its affairs and keeping us afloat!

    1. The problem will not be solved by simply replacing the Archbishop. The Billionaires and Millionaires who have supported the Church deserve everyone’s thanks because they obviously love the Church. They simply haven’t insisted on “getting their money’s worth” for their contributions. They are all members of the Archdiocesan Council, which is the “highest legislative body” of The Archdiocese between Clergy-Laity Congresses. They have a voice, but apparently they have been led to believe that, as lay people, they are only “advisory”. They have not only the power, but the fiduciary responsibility to amend the Uniform Parish Regulations and propose changes to the Charter that will ensure the the reforms that are needed are actually enacted. They can act today, even before the Clergy-Laity Congress in Boston in July to make sure that the systemic changes that are needed are made. I applaud Mr. Catsimatidis as well as Mr. Valiotis who delivered his remarks at Hellenic College/Holy Cross recently. Finishing St. Nicholas Shrine and patching up the current financial mess, without energizing the laity to understand and actually execute their fiduciary responsibilities in the Administration of the Church, will not stop the downward trend of our Archdiocese and of Orthodoxy in the US..

      1. since when has it been advocated that men and women of such great wealth wield such influence over the living Church of Christ? since when has it been advocated that men and women of such great wealth wield such power of the UPRs of the Greek Orthodox Church? since when has it been advocated that men and women of such great wealth and influence dictate the future and the theology of the Church of Christ? Perhaps such men and women of great wealth yielding their influence over the Church of God is the root of the problem…..God will lead the way ……God’s will will be done…..the love of great God for we, his children, will lead our Church out of the current darkness into his light of glory and salvation hereon earth and beyond….. irrespective of men and women of such great wealth, influence and glory on this earth …

  4. You learned your ethics from your Arab bosses.
    Johnnie Gats has made made himself a public persona making speech against him protected.
    This came from bankers who have reviewed his records.

  5. Bravo for the lay leadership stepping up! We have fallen so far as a church!
    Another major problem that the church has is its suffering priests. Under this current Archbishop there are MANY priests unable to work or who serve without support from the Archdiocese. There are many at their wits end. They and their families suffer and the Archdiocese doesn’t care. And yet…they claim a shortage of priests.
    It is time for the clergy to be helped. They need work and support as a whole. Instead of just the few elite priests doing well, they all need support from this Archbishop and Archdiocese!

    1. John Cats is a great man who has done many good things for his community and Church. I largely agree with everything he says. The Archbishop presided over the creation of much of the mess and at age 90 is in no position to fix things.

      The elephant in the room is where do we look for a replacement? The petty vain Evangelos? The dictatorial Methodios? How many of our Metropolitans are qualified for the big job? Nor will the American Archdiocese want to look to get another leader flown over from the old country.

      We need to ask ourselves why we are not producing leaders like the late Archbishop Iakovos? Why are the cream of our young men not entering the priesthood, and the best of them not rising to the episcopal dignity?

      I have my own thoughts on these questions but until we as a community address them head on instead of the dog and pony show we get at Clergy Laity conferences, our Church will continue to wither and shrink into oblivion.

      1. Wow, where to begin? Many potential clergy leaders, be they priests who marry or those who might become hierarchs, do not want to enter the priesthood because of the way clergy are treated by hierarchs and by many lay people. Over the years many Greek American boys have been discouraged by their parents from entering the priesthood. The answer is just more obvious now than in the past. That’s one reason why more and more converts want to enter the priesthood. They don’t have a lifetime of such abuse. As for the next archbishop, yes, it is a quandary. None, none, of the US metropolitans are fit to become archbishop. And God help us if it is Metropolitan Elpidoforos, although he would only come if he thought it would enhance his chances on the big prize, succeeding Bartholomew. So a possibility is Metropolitan Emmanuel of France. But it won’t really make any difference because the Archdiocese charter gives all the power, and I don’t use that word lightly, to the Patriarch through the sycophant metropolitans. A fine mess, indeed.

  6. The behavior being displayed by His Eminence and our Archdiocese is cultish rather than Orthodox –Controlling instead of loving.
    We are a faithful people who are uneducated in our own faith and Christianity in general. We are a feel good – “life style” church instead of a Christ centered – sacramental bible based church. Our bishops and many of our priests count on us being apathetic…and we are! This is the reason we are in this situation to begin with.
    #StepDownYourEminence

    1. Michael I endorse everything you say. Our Church is the afternoon and Sunday Greek Club more that Christ’s people in action.

      I get it, I love being Greek too. But that should be secondary to the central meaning and purpose of our Church.

      And while I agree that the Archbishop should retire with the dignity he has left, there are far more dangerous possible replacements among the current hierarchy. As they say, be careful what you wish for! God help us!

      1. The answer is to NOT appoint a successor but 2 Locum Tenens (“in the place of as interim”), one as an administrator and another as a spiritual leader and convenor of the US Synod, and to do so on a 90 day cycle , renewable, while further housekeeping occurs. If we have to reach into the ranks of the married clergy, all the better. I can think of 6 or 8 smart, honest senior priests. The Metropolitans should be told to go along willingly or to hand back their costumes and leave the party. They get 24 hours to chose and a one way ticket to the country and city of their choice, if they want out, with no “paid one year sabbatical” like the auxiliary bishop of Chicago finessed from his sinking ship.

  7. I was present when John And Margo received The Lifetime Achievement Award from The Green Beret Foundation for their many, many contributions to the wounded and to veterans.

    Like the Green Beret “A” Team Leader, John leads from the front.

    My vote is to turn all the archdiocesan books and records over to John, as well as the St Nicholas project. You will know where every dime went and the Metros will be emptying their own office trash cans, because he’ll not pay for janitors and make them clean their own offices. He’s tough and he’s capable.

    The Army Special Forces and Green Beret motto is: De Oppressor Liber, To Free the Oppressed. The laity is the oppressed.

    Thank you John. It needed saying from on high, and you led the way !

    1. GoArmyBeatNavy – such honesty and truth has the Angels rejoicing in Heaven.
      Our freedom begins when we turn our attention toward Jesus Christ.
      Thank you for your service.

  8. I was present when John And Margo received The Lifetime Achievement Award from The Green Beret Foundation for their many, many contributions to the wounded and to veterans.

    Like the Green Beret “A” Team Leader, John leads from the front.

    My vote is to turn all the archdiocesan books and records over to John, as well as the St Nicholas project. You will know where every dime went and the Metros will be emptying their own office trash cans, because he’ll not pay for janitors and make them clean their own offices. He’s tough and he’s capable.

    The Army Special Forces and Green Beret motto is: De Oppressor Liber, To Free the Oppressed. The laity is the oppressed.

    Thank you John. It needed saying from on high, and you led the way !

    De Oppressor Liber

    1. GoArmyBeatNavy, Thank you for reminding everyone that Mr. Catsimatidis is a recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Green Beret Foundation for his support of wounded and disabled veterans – particularly those of the Special Forces community who have taken a disproportionate amount of deaths and casualties since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. It brings up something that is helpful to reflect on.

      Helping people gives more honor and respect than funding construction projects. I’ve never met Mr. Catsimatidis. But, his contributions to the Green Beret Foundation have been far more helpful to the people that have been affected by 9/11 and its aftermath than most. When it comes to ministering to the military, their families, and veterans, we should follow his example.

      P.S. Another helpful phrase is “Ελευθερία ή θάνατος!”

  9. John Cats never gave one cent for St. Nicholas at ground zero. He refused. In fact he rarely gives anything. Notice he doesn’t say he supported the Archbishop – only that Jaharis and Bouras did – because he didn’t. He spent $10M on his vanity run for mayor plastering his mug all over television- but hasn’t given anything. He was put up to writing this letter by Karloutsos who is hell- bent on removing Archbishop. Shame on them both.

    1. If John Cats didn’t give to St. Nicholas, then that’s only proof positive that he’s the smartest guy in the room because look at how it all ended up. It’s now wrapped in plastic cellophane like a piece of luggage at JFK containing drugs from South America and is a huge eye-sore. We go from the Trojan Horse to the Parthenon to an unfinished box-like building wrapped in plastic as the symbol of “The Eternal Greeks”.

      Now, when the late Michael Jabaris gave millions to finish renovations at the Blair House in DC and tens and tens of millions to Tufts Medical School and to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I didn’t hear you same whiners complain that the same money should have gone to St. Nicholas or HCHC. Why has the widow Jaharis and family said “no mas” to any giving to the archdiocese? Because they’re smart. Same with the Bourases , I presume. You don’t chase bad money with good money, as the saying goes down here in the financial district. The two deceased benefactors were part of Old School churchmen who gave even when they knew it was a waste because of the voices channeled from Yiayia and Pappou to “give, because it’s our church right or wrong”. Those days are gone and well they should be because too much fraud, waste, and abuse was masked by this “my church, right or wrong” misplaced sentiment.

      St. Nicholas needs to be returned to the Port Authority. Even if completed, millions will be needed to operate and maintain it. Who’s stepping up to that? Tsipras?

      The arguments about Karloutsos, one way or the other, are as irrelevant as he is at this point. He and all of them have lost the trust of the rank and file, and now, even the NYC billionaire boys club. He’s not part of the solution or the future. Bowing and scrapping to robed actors posing as holy men, mysterious priest fundraisers with assorted Greek and Turkish commercial connections, and unaccountable check writers are history. Tell me the new plan, don’t tell me what we know doesn’t work.

      Lastly, let’s see if ALMA Bank loans the money to these losers after the Metros, Demetrios, and all the sycophantic straphangers dissed the owner-chairman’s remarks at HCHC commencement. Maybe the last laugh will be on him? Who else will lend to an essentially insolvent institution? Maybe the Latin Kings or what’s left of the Italian mafia.

    2. Johnny Cats was smart not to give the Archdiocese any money. A smart businessman knows not to put good money into a bad investment. 80 million dollars for a shrine that only has the capacity to hold 175 persons and that nobody will attend is not a good investment – not a way to advance our faith.

    3. Blubber Tubber not did not donate to the rebuilding of his childhood parish of Zoglo Pegles, let alone WTC. He is doing his radio program every Sunday at the time he should be in church. He does not do anything without Karloutsos permission. All the karlutzing arabators at the Harlonic Societies who defend him are oblivious to lent and only go to church for the coffee hours.

  10. No one knows what anyone donates or doesn’t donate and if Cats chose to run for mayor and used his own money thats his business and know one else’s. He would’ve been a much better mayor than the current one who goes by a fake name. Nonetheless the Archdiocese should have nothing more to do with the continuation of St. Nicholas and the undertaking should be done by someone like John Cats who knows how to manage a business and finances and can actually finish this project and leave his legacy for future generations.

    1. In fact, information about who gives is readily available. It is an indisputable fact that Cats did not give once cent to the church at ground zero. Thousands gave what they could. He gave nothing- not a cent. So stop telling us what a great benefactor he is when in fact he only gives sporadically to honor himself. He has forfeited his credibility on this issue when he refused to give. Let him go back to managing the worst supermarkets in New York, and if he intends to write something, perhaps he can hire someone who is proficient in English.

      1. I gave $1,000 to the fund to rebuild Saint Nicholas. Now understanding that much of this money was stolen to fund the lavish lifestyles of the Metropolitans and for wasteful expenditures, it looks like John Cats was the smart one! Better that he gave his money to support the wounded veterans.

  11. To whoever wrote above: “…the Greek community needs more of its billionaires involved in its affairs and keeping us afloat!”

    Oh man…. I can’t believe people actually think this. Being “rescued by billionaires” is exactly with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese does NOT need. As a Christian Orthodox community, we need to man up to the Biblical practice of tithing. If even a fraction of folks in the GOA tithed, the financial problems of the Church would be nonexistent.

    Orthodox Christians are among the highest socioeconomic group in America. If we are truly thankful to God, we will give back to him what he has entrusted to us.

    But as long as most of the faithful do not tithe, the GOA will continue to be dependent on the occasional wealthy “benefactor” who donates huge amounts, always with strings attached.

    We need to take a lesson from the many monasteries in the GOA that have been established over the past few decades. These monasteries don’t get a dime from East 79th Street but rely on tithes and donations from the faithful. The faithful love the monasteries. Christ and the fullness of our Christian faith is there. The monasteries in the GOA are a perfect example of how spiritually beneficial tithing can be. Faithful from across the country love to worship at the monasteries and to plan their burials there.

    Of course, the GOA on E. 79th Street has a long way to go before most faithful would even consider trusting it again with their tithes. Talk about a Catch 22.

    1. Why would I tithe? To fund Evangelos’s daily town car and chauffeur in from New York City? To fund the endless first class tickets to and from Greece? I cut out the GOA and now give the money I gave them to our local homeless shelter.

    2. Saint Nicholas should have not been rebuilt in this manner, in scale and design, making it impossible for future generations to finance, manage and maintain. Poor judgement, blindness to vanity, deafness to reason and wise humility, contributed to a project doomed to fail. Saint Nicholas became the Tower of Babel for the GOA. Churchmen are known to make such large miscalculations. The best tribute to the fallen of 911, and the parish community of Saint Nicholas would have been a small parish cathedral, a gem, designed with beauty by the best artists, architects, and iconographers in the Orthodox world, as a tribute to love and beauty in defiance to hate and ugliness of religious and political fanaticism. Our Orthodox brothers and sisters to the North are the only ones today that excel in these arts. There are several cathedrals being built in Romania, Russia, that are small but breathtaking. Not a like this huge concrete bomb-shelter of a building designed by the megalomaniac Santiago Calatrava.

  12. The Archdiocese, School, and St. Nicholas are three separate or at least should be funded and administrated better with full openess, and not be able secretly rob funds from the other, this has been happening awhile now, not overnight…seems the same greeks that ran greece itself into the ground have come here and ruined us too..Ok speak out, get rid of the guilty set up new funds asap, St. Nicholas is an urgent need its shameful to all greeks thats its not finished there are Greek American billionaires + millionaires that could help out, when you are blessed you must give blessings in return…

  13. St Nicholas when completed will bring in much needed funds in donations alone by visitors just walking through. Hopefully they will be enough not only to fund its operating costs but for the archdiocese as well. By then I pray we have new leadership in place and the greedy metropolitans all go away. It takes dozens of years to complete churches all over the world. Something as costly as this will not finish anytime soon, especially since the big donors have lost all trust in our leadership.

  14. If the wealthy donors were truly Orthodox Christians, they would have never become billionaires. Imagine if they WERE true to their faith and actually confessed to their priest every year. The Archdiocese could EASILY collect $20 million on fear alone. Even those who PLEDGED $10 million to a ‘ministry’ but never wrote the actual check would be exposed. But then again if you are the priest hearing those confessions or are simply privy to such ‘sensitive information’, it could make you so power-crazy that you would rather “accept” a free house in Southampton, demand huge expense accounts and ‘negotiate’ favors / opportunities to capitalize on… prove me wrong.

  15. it is a shame that as talented as we are as Greeks, our egos and selfishness hinder unity. I pray we are better parishioners and we have better clergy and church leaders.

  16. Dear Mr. Katsimatides,
    Like you, I grew up within the Greek Orthodox Church, attending the original GAI, school, in the South Bronx, and then St. Spyridon School, in the early 60’s.
    We were allways strong supporters of the Dynamic, Super Intelligent, Powerful, True LEADER, of the Orthodox Church, Archbishop Iakovos, whose efforts, public, & media appearances, allways made us proud.
    Fast forward to today, where our Church, History, is virtually unheard, & unsupported..
    Beyond the Archdiocan/Clergy budgetary concerns, is their neglect, of the Church, & Laiety.
    It would be nice, if they all showed such concern, for the lay people who are ignored, showed sour/dour, unwelcome faces by the priests, & bishops, who seem to have forgotten the meaning, power, of AGAPI (Αγαπη).
    The Church should be expanding in these times, extending its services, to the many suffering, soul searching lay people, seeking compassion, understanding, and a respite, from usery souless governments, and threats, attacks from non Christian groups.
    We have a rich History in our Church, especially starting with Constantine the Great who founded Constantinople, in the 4th Century, through the Synods, & the Glorious Byzantine Empire, that when others saw the Beauty of the Greek Orthodox Services, adopted it for their countries.
    We have lost all that beauty, ignored use of Beautiful, ethereal Byzantine Hymns, decreased use of insense, and seem to apologize, or be embarassed for being Christian.
    The World has grown, with use of the internet, more travel, their are more disturbed souls, suffering from unrest, bullying, perceived racial, sexual differences/indifferences, seeking answers, salvation, understanding Science cannot give them.
    We failed to spread our Agapi, to these people, and even turned away, our former loyal laity, with the Priests, Archidioces, indifference.
    They are now reaping the rewards of this indifference, as the lay now show their indifferance, to the Church.
    Its a shame for the hard work, & sacrifices many Greeks, Greek Americans, & former Archbishops made, to keep the Greek Orthodox Church Viable, Vibrant, Vigilant, Alive, Caring, Relevant, and all Welcoming.
    SHAME ON YOU ALL!
    Ντροπη Σας!
    In a matter of 20 years, you have caused more destruction to the Greek Orthodox Church, than even the Muslims were able to affect, in their almost 1500 years of attacks on our Church, against the Byzantine Empire, through today.
    Even after the fall of Constantinople, and up to WWII, Priests, Bishops, sacrificed their lives, being tortured, hanged, skewered alive, to keep the Greek Church, History, Language Alive.
    They formed hidden schools, to accomplish this, and help bring order to a fledgeling, Greece trying to recover after WWII.
    They also sacrificed their lives, offering Agapi, and refuge, to hundreds of thousands of Jews, seeking to leave Germany, and hid, many more in Greece, refusing to turn them over to the 3rd Reich.

    The Churches main preoccupation, energy, Agapi, in the 21st Century, seems to be only reserved for themselves.
    ΑΝΑΞΙΟΙ!

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