BOSTON – The Ecumenical Patriarchate informed by letter all of the archdioceses, metropolises, and monasteries under its ecclesiastical jurisdiction that it will subject them to financial audits. The letter states in part that upon the recommendation of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew the Holy Synod has decided that representatives of the Great Church of Christ must conduct financial audits from time to time in its ecclesiastical eparchies, monasteries, and Institutions.
It is underscored here that this decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate also applies to the metropolises of America.
As The National Herald has written time and again, there are instances, as in the case with the Metropolis of Boston, where there has been no local Clergy-Laity Congress in recent years, let alone financial reports about the income, the expenses, and donations, some of which amount to millions of dollars.
It is reminded that there exist decisions by the Archdiocesan Council and also of a national Clergy-Laity Congress calling for mandatory financial audits from the metropolises.
Usually, the audits that are done – if they are done at all – are very basic and stunted. The local hierarch reportedly picks an accountant of his choice, provides him or her with some very general and abstract numbers and materials, and the accountant simply puts them in order.
What is needed in all metropolises and their institutions such as camps, Philoxenia House, and other institutions, is a detailed audit – a forensic audit – in order for the finances to be checked thoroughly and in detail, tracking to which invoice each payment belongs and including descriptions of the where, when, and whys – the specific reason for each expense.
It is not enough for example, for the metropolitans for be warned of “pastoral visits” in the United States and Greece.
There are instances where local hierarchs hide behind the so called Metropolitan Councils which, for the most part, are packed with individuals they appoint and who don’t dare to ask about accountability or to disagree with the way the local hierarch spends the money. The same individuals serve for decades on those Metropolitan Councils which in some cases don’t even meet – or meet rarely and perfunctorily.
It is reminded here that all the expenses of the hierarchs here are paid by the Church, starting from the Metropolis residence where they live for free and with all utilities paid – electricity, heat, telephones, and cars which in some cases are expensive and luxurious. The faithful are scandalized because they then go to the parishes and ask for more money. Even their satellite television subscriptions are paid by the Church, which means by the Body of the Laity.
TNH has revealed the dire financial condition to which the Archdiocese of America has been led, reaching the point where it had to mortgage the office buildings of Archdiocesan headquarters to obtain a $7.5 Bank loan from the Alma bank. The chaos surrounding the unfinished St. Nicholas nave at the World Trade Center has also been revealed, along with the need for another $48 million to finish it. Also, it is sad to note the total phthisis of the Theological School. This is the inheritance that Archbishop Elpidophoros has found.
The National Herald has learned that the new Archbishops of Australia Makarios and Nikitas of Great Britain have also found financial problems in their Archdioceses. The first situation is due to the lengthy illness of the late Archbishop of Australia, and the second because of the advanced age of the Archbishop in England. They too should undertake a detailed financial audit and report to their flocks, because the faithful have the right to know.