Letter to the Editor: In Response to Huffington’s Open Letter

Archbishop Demetrios of America. (Photo by TNH/Costas Bej)

To the Editor:

In response to an “Open Letter to the Archbishop & the Greek Community” (Jun. 9) the author, Michael Huffington, states that the Archbishop has “buried the talents that were given to him but worse yet he has lost some of them.” Talents in the Parable represent Faith and the profit and interest is how we spread it. The Archbishop has and continues to spread the faith with his very rigorous schedule. His words still bring inspiration, faith, and hope to the community and those that listen to him. I have traveled many times 2 hours to hear him speak and if his words don’t inspire me, it is because it may have landed “on stony places” or among “thorns” as in The Parable Of The Sower And The Seed (Matthew 13:1-23).

The author states that there was a “malfeasance,” I believe what actually happened is that restricted money was used for unrestricted purposes. As a Certified Public Accountant, I can tell you that this is a common mistake made by many non-profits. The Archdiocese has issued statements that the funds will be repaid. I am surprised that past audits of the Archdiocese did not address this, since I believe they have had audited financial statements.

One of Jesus own Disciples actually was a thief and betrayed him (Judas) and another one denied him 3 times (Peter). That is 2 out 12 Disciples that created a “scandal,” a 16% scandal ratio for those who had the best teacher, Jesus. The Disciples actually were the ones who spread the faith.

I believe this is a lesson for all of us to not get a distracted by these things and worldly matters and focus on own faith and personal weaknesses. We also should not judge or condemn because he who is without sin should throw the first stone and we also don’t want to be judged. The Archbishop is still loved by many in our community. As for those who choose to say negative things about the Archbishop, he is in good company, many condemned Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. We will rebuild St. Nicholas not only for ourselves but for our children, our faith, and our Country.

John Papas CPA

Dumont, NJ

12 Comments

  1. “The Archbishop has and continues to spread the faith with his very rigorous schedule” Really? How? Through what medium? At no other time in the history of the Greek Orthodox Church in America have we become so irrelevant.
    Most of the people in my life – professional or personal – who are not Greek had no clue about the Greek Orthodox Church
    until they saw how passionate I am about our faith.
    We have approximately 700,000 congregants in the GOA – depending on what misinformation you believe.
    In a country with 320,000,000.
    And please, do not put the Archbishop in the same category as Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the son of the living
    God. He suffered like no man has ever suffered. He was forced to carry a 150 pound tree up a hill – was nailed to
    it – and was abandoned for a brief moment in eternity to take on the sins of the world.

  2. Archbishop Dimitrios is going on 90 plus and he tells the Patriarch that he will not step down in order to fix the existing financial fiasco maybe in his after life. Who is he kidding? What executive has all his marbles Mr CPA at that age that a younger more energetic person does not have?

    Money was misappropriated for what NEED? Dimitriou gave the answer to National Herald claiming that Geronda knew where the $ 17,000,000 went. No one from the Archdiocese disputes nor responds to the charge by Mr. Dimitriou. They all quote the Bible to camouflage their misdeeds. Shame on us for accepting this
    behavior from our “esteemed” hierarchs.

    Running the Archdiocese is a business and should be treated as such! The theologians should be separated from running the business and a CEO should take over and ” Clean the Swamp!”

  3. John, I can tell you that you wouldn’t be my CPA with such a naive response. What you have going on at the archdiocese is 8 to 10 related entities to the “archdiocese” that are not audited. The audit is of just the archdiocese proper and apparently fails to mention “related entities” transfers and various shell games that occur with monies in and monies out. Use of restricted accounts like the priest K plan takes on a whole different IRS dimension. Also, Karloutsos represented he raised $ 47 million for St. Nick’s but apparently no one can account for the difference between the $ 30 million in the deal and the amount he said he raised. Forget MLK and Ghandi references and take out your green eye shades and roll up your sleeves on the books. They are dirty as hell. IRS records need to show any reporting of foreign bank accounts, which most interests me.

    1. And Arthur Anderson audited Enron and neither are any longer in business and some of them went to jail. It’s the related entities, John, are you listening? It could also be the foreign bank accounts, it’s the St Nicholas Fund (apparently unaudited). Very very naive of you, really.

    2. John,

      When you are dealing with a vigilante mob….incited by another newspaper article …which provides enough information to forment unrest among the population, but not enough to pause, and fully assess … the real merits of the argument, and how plausible it really is …to charge one of Spiritual leader of the original church of Christ, who has served his faithful for decades, and to my knowledge has no record of misdemeanors and felonies….as a liar, cheat, and stealing of church funds…..for his personal use!
      You are correct , John, and your professional name is on it….which I will assume , means a lot to your reputation and business!

      No amount of evidence, that refutes ….the only grounds for removal of the Archbishop ….is whether he knowingly stole funds from the Archdiocese of the Greek Orthodox Church …..that benefited him
      personally! And that is why you put people in jail ….not for withdrawing funds to be used for other immediate needs of the church. The issue is ….did he use this money ….to have and spend for his personal gain…. and if you cannot prove this….then spare me….the outrage and demands for this Archbishop to be removed. It is despicable ….to continue a narrative….which demeans the character of the Archbishop….because of a possible accounting error, or if incorrectly, used money’s under the control and disposition of the Archdiocese….which can be borrowed against ….with the only caviat…is that it would be returned. Only failure to meet this commitment…. is in the big picture….the only liability of the Archbishop and those who are responsible for the management of the financial needs of the Archdiocese !

      John, this vigilante group supported by TNH….want far more than the head of the Archbishop and his associates! In reading all the information and comments….it is clear….that they also have a problem with how our Faith is practiced, and somehow believe that they can do a better job of molding the Greek Orthodox Church to become more like the Evangelical and Protestant church…and recruit more non-Greek parishioners to the church. They also…. suggest …that the original church of Christ and its…..faithful, are unworthy to call themselves Christians….unlike the evangelical and Protestant “praise the lord” and his word…..who are exceptional at doing good works in the name of Christ
      These people who are merely trolls of the made for T.V. gospel messengers Joel Osteen and Jimmy and Tammy Baker …have done what ….great degenerate leaders of our country have been doing for the last 20 years….overthrow the governments of the Middle east …not compliant to the economic, political and military control of a bunch of White Supremacist billionaires and surrender their sovereignty..like, if you haven’s noticed…Greece has done, in order to represent their interests and objectives!
      John….this is why the will continue to discredit you….because what they are really doing…. is destroying the sovereignty of the Greek Orthodox Church…in order to take control… and impose their form of Orthodoxy, and market a religion which appeals to their Anglo American evangelist and born again Christians….not those which …and I guess , we all need to be reminded……has served the Greek population ….from the beginning of Christianity and who has been the caretaker of the history of the very foundation of Christianity and …..contrary to these trolls….has survived for centuries by word of mouth….not T.V. productions.
      When I hear ….these lovers of Joel Osteen…..depict the Archbishop of stealing, being a liar, crook, and even demeaning him for responding to their allegations, which , are at this time ….merely pretext narratives to destroy the sovereignty of our church to do …what they have done for centuries!
      While these trolls and their sponsors……demean the character of our church clergy….and indict the entire Church….they should be reminded that these people actually do good works…which unlike your idols on T.V. are not broadcast thruout the world! How many people know ….the these Greek Orthodox Clergy….have been hung by Nazi degenerates for not identifying Greek Jews, who were to be shipped to one of the killing fields of Europe from Greece! You won’t know this …unless you take a visit to the holocaust museum…and also understand ….. that these Christians….were only 1 of 3 groups who sacrificed their lives or helped the Jews of Europe! Yes, these are the same clergy….who marched hand and hand with Martin Luther King Jr…..in Selma, to support basic freedoms and to fight discrimination against Blacks! It would be shortly after this ….that this man would be assassinated by some of the south’s….most religious followers!

      Hear is what I recommend….TNH should shut its mouth, and prove that the Archbishop is a liar, cheat, stole or diverted money for his personal use! If not, then you are simply….doing what the media does best….misrepresenting information and providing another false news or pretext in support of another Aristocratic overthrow of a government …..to bomb illegally and murder a bunch of innocent civilians to take control of another country of the Middle East!

      I have no problem with my church….and 98% of the parishioners of the Greek Orthodox Church…. who are mostly Greek….have no clue as to…. what is being done in their name!

      What the trolls need to do ….is leave our Greek Othodox church…and get the angry donators to our church…to provide all the funds necessary to start ….an Anglo American Orthodox church…which should be very appealing to the common interest of Evangelicals and Protestants….. and stop this illusion…that evangelical and Protestants….will become members of the Greek church…if only we had the right people running our Church!

      Michael Gianakos

      1. No, no, no. I haven’t heard anyone say, with certainty, that the Archbishop took funds for his own use. But, the money that was given for St. Nicholas was restricted. It cannot be the decision of one man alone, even if it is the Archbishop, to violate the trust of the laity. And, concerning St. Nicholas, no less. Ground zero is about as sacred a secular spot as anywhere else in the US. To not have realized that and to act in a way that would insult not only Orthodox laity, but the American people as a whole, exhibits a serious lack of insight and lapse of judgement. One can have at their disposal all the audits they want but the one thing those audits don’t tell us is who approved and who actually did, the transfer of the money. Someone, or more probably at least two people, given the large sums we’re talking about, had to either sign a paper or push a button on a computer to authorize the transaction(s). Either way there will be proof of who did what. So, who did it? Why aren’t we privy to that information? And, finally, the Archbishop can be removed at the recommendation of the Patriarch and the agreement of the Synod. There are many who are dissatisfied with the Archdiocese not because they want it to become Protestant, Anglican or Evangelical but because the Archdiocese itself is becoming Protestant. There are many who want the Archdiocese to be more than a Greek American social club, to not cater to the sycophants that rally round the metropolitans and patriarch. At least 75% of the marriages in the Archdiocese have been “mixed” for at least a generation. What’s done to bring these people into the Orthodox fold? It is disturbing to see the Church referred to as the Greek Church. The Orthodox Church is not Greek. People will be attracted to the faith not because of the Greek factor but because of that faith. And this financial fiasco just doesn’t cut it, not only with the Orthodox laity, but with those who have very little or no knowledge of Orthodoxy. This recent financial mess is the icing on the cake. The Archdiocese budget has grown by $1 million per year for the last 18 years. Ridiculous. And what do the laity get for that? Increased assessments. Do you realize that even small parishes are on the hook for annual sums of $50,000, and some large ones for as much as $125,000 and perhaps more? The money that goes to the Archdiocese should be going to supporting second and third priests in parishes. That’s how the faith grows. The Archbishop should step down but he is far too much a lover of the limelight to understand that he needs to let go and let others more qualified fix the mess. May our good Lord have mercy on us all!

  4. Yeah, John, 2015-16 statements.
    Ancient history and before the deaths of the two billionaires who kept this bs afloat.
    It’s 2018. Is that your best watchfulness?

    1. John you can put all the perfume you want on it, it still smells like poop. Money was stolen, plain and simple. Thousands of us gave and raised money, including our yiayia’s and pappou’s, many of whom gave more than they could afford.

      And the money was stolen. It’s gone. We don’t know where it went or who authorized. We are being told not to worry, it will repaid and everything will be okay.

      No it will not be okay. Greedy venal men took gifts to God and used them to fund their big flashy gold vestments and crosses and first class trips to Greece and Mercedes Benz cars and chauffeurs and God only knows what else. These were criminal deliberate actions, not good faith mistakes. Done by greedy men who call themselves monks and live like princes.

      God save us and His Church from these evil men and give us new leaders who will use his assets with transparency and accountability rather than acting like petty tyrants.

      1. The hierarchs may call themselves monks, but are they? Even if they, even some of them, were tonsured as monks they cannot be a monk because they, without exception, have not lived for even one day in a monastery under obedience to an abbot. This continues to this day, tonsuring and then ordaining men who have never lived in a monastery.

  5. First as always your all ganging up on the author, his right to speak his mind are his, the troubles are with the archdiocese not a commentor, none if us really know the whole truth yet, probably never will, yes all financial dealings fundraising and approving where every penny goes should be a separate entity with open books and no ties to clergy or others..guess it’s all our fault that only comment or get involved after a scandal happens, but a faith based organization should not make such horrendous mistakes and lies, $17.Million, $30. Million? Only god knows where this all is, proof that it was actually raised? Ok clean house replace all that are involved from top too bottom, Religion, School, Fundraising, St. Nicholas all separated, Complete audit of monies, assets, needs and funds needed to keep all running, time for decisiveness not accusations and vitriol but new leadership, new course, and a whole new church in America, well funded, well respected and Spiritually and Financially above board, no backroom games, no smoke and mirrors, true faith, and true blessings…be the change this church needs not just another cafe taverna useless discussion…

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