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Analysis: Forensic Audits Should Be Undertaken for All Monasteries

There is one overwhelming message in the numerous communications we have received from priests and lay faithful from many cities and states throughout the country regarding last week’s Analysis about the overdue need and urgency regarding financial forensic audits in the metropolises, including their institutions such as Philoxenia Homes, camps etc.: The audits should have been done a long time ago.

Let me say one more time that our people in the parishes know and understand much more than some metropolitans and their acolytes, like chancellors, secretaries, youth directors, and the rest who draw salaries from the Church, actually from us, the Body of the laity who pay for all of them and for everything. In reality they are ‘employees’ of the Church and they are paid well and with good benefits.

On the other hand, it is known that the priests are afraid if not petrified of the metropolitans. They wouldn’t dare publicly say that they agree that forensic audits should be done. And the lay people don’t want “to get involved” either. Many have simply walked away from the affairs of the parishes. They refuse to serve on the parish councils and generally don’t care anymore about their local parish. As a result, the remaining individuals are recycled again and again, year after year. The stagnation has led to acedia which is the highest degree of indifference, and the putrescence is nightmarish in many communities where elections have become a thing of the past. An example for avoidance is New England, where the situation is beyond any hope.

In this analysis I will emphasize that forensic financial audits should be done in all monasteries and nunneries in the United States starting from their ‘headquarters’, the St. Anthony Monastery in Arizona. 

We must receive answers to many questions about the properties of the monasteries, specifically, to whom do they belong – the churches and other buildings, the cells, the hospitality buildings, the homes – and who controls the real estate. 

All these issues were left unchecked during Archbishop Demetrios’ tenure of twenty years, despite the efforts made by the late Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council Michael Jaharis.

When Archbishop Elpidophoros came just a year ago, he made an effort to approach them. He visited their ‘headquarters’ in Arizona and some other monasteries and organized a Monastic Synaxis, but after that coronavirus hit, the issues were put on the list for the future. 

I will leave for another Analysis their teachings, the ‘miraculous signs’ and the narratives. 

Allow me το remind one more time here that Elpidophoros found an Archdiocese that was bankrupt not only financially, but also spiritually, administratively, and academically – a total loss. Tragic – but that was the reality! Certainly they were all responsible, the metropolitans, the Archdiocesan Council, the Finance Committee, all. That is why they should keep their mouths shut today instead of playing games and trying to be wiseguys.

Since the monasteries themselves are the issue here, it should be noted that there are some ‘strange’ structures indeed, and not only because such brotherhoods are unfamiliar to us in America.

For example, the St. Irene Chrysovalantou Monastery in Astoria is a Patriarchal and Stavropegial Monastery, which means it belongs directly to the jurisdiction of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. A forensic audit should be done there on the finances, and for “all the precious items” donated for the decoration of the icon of St. Irene, and of course, for the Dependencies which they operate as parishes.       

The National Philoptochos also needs a general overhaul. It is an ecclesiastical organization belonging to the Church and not an autonomous entity that decides as it desires. A general overhaul, rejuvenation, and new blood are needed. Again, nothing should be done without the participation, knowledge, and authorization of the Archbishop. It is simply not right for the Archbishop to announce a program to help financially those who have suffered from the coronavirus pandemic and for the Philoptochos to make a donation to another organization. 

The time for audits, reorganization, and rejuvenation of the metropolises and the above-mentioned monasteries and organizations is now. The same applies to the School of Theology. The train of history is passing at high speed, alas if we miss it!                 

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