GR US

Analysis: Forensic Audits Should Begin with No Delay

The National Herald

Metropolitan Methodios with Fr. Dean Panagos, past president of the Clergy Association of the Metropolis of Boston. Fr. Panagos’ last parish in the Metropolis of Boston was St. Sophia in New London, CT and now he is pastoring at the St. John the Baptist parish in Blue Point, NY. (Photo by TNH/Theodore Kalmoukos)

I have written over the past two years about the issue of the need to conduct financial audits in all the Metropolises of the Archdiocese and their institutions, i.e. camps, Hospitality (Philoxenia) Houses, youth programs, visits of the hierarchs to Greece, and all major expenses. The reason I revisit this issue today and what makes the need even more urgent are the latest developments that occurred in our ecclesiastical life on Thursday, October 8, namely the removal of Metropolitan Evangelos from the Metropolis of New Jersey and his election to the Metropolis of Sardes, and the imposition of an extremely severe punishment for a hierarch, the suspension from all liturgical and sacred services of Metropolitan Methodios of Boston.

I think it is proper and right in all respects to do everything correctly, as there will be the deliveries and receipts regarding of the Metropolis of New Jersey. Both Metropolitan Evangelos and Archbishop Elpidophoros must know what the former delivers and the latter receives in his new capacity of Patriarchal Vicar. Specifically bank accounts, funds, income, expenses, donations, payments, where, how much, and why. And also, who signed the checks, or who checked and authorized the bills to be paid or approved the expenses. Furthermore, there is the question of who had the right to sign the checks and everything related.

The same must apply, as quickly as possible, for the already handicapped Metropolis of Boston whose hierarch has been placed on liturgical suspension and which actually means that his ecclesiastical superiors, the Ecumenical Patriarch and the Holy Synod around him, have removed their trust to such an extent that they imposed a suspension on him from all liturgical duties and services.  Everything should be checked and audited in Boston: the bank accounts of the Metropolis, the camp in New Hampshire, the Hospitality (Philoxenia) House, the large donations of the late Greek-American bartender Georgios Grinis, who was worth $1,183,485 million and died without an heir, and also those of Kathrine Pappas, a total of about $2 million. Revenues, expenses, travel within and outside the United States must be included. And this audit should be not just for the last three years, but of all the years of Methodios’ presence as Metropolitan in Boston.

Note that the audits should be done with forensic methods, and not in the usual ways that the Metropolitans provide them, writing on a piece of paper about some general income and expenses and the bookkeeper or accountant makes one of those well-known reports showing all is well and good. Here we are talking about forensic methods that should turn everything inside out and upside down, and in the long run, as I have already noted, that should be from the day that each Metropolitan took over in his Metropolis. Of course those for the two mentioned above are urgent – they must begin before ‘corrections’ are made, also known as … cover ups.

Let me remind you that a year ago there was a decision and order of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to conduct financial audits in all its Eparchies and Monasteries around the world. It is an open secret that the same mentality and the same tactics that prevailed in the Archdiocese for years during the Archiepiscopacy of Demetrios and which eventually led it to virtual bankruptcy – yes, let us not forget the legacy of Demetrios – are followed in the local Metropolises even today, that is, the feasting (γλεντοκόπημα) continues.

The Archdiocese in the days of Demetrios played the same tune on its violin for years: give and give again, and give even more. The ‘leaders’ on the Finance Committee, led by the dismissed Georgios Vourvoulias, were recruited. And then there was the other dismissed official, Jerry Dimitriou, who was ‘general’ in everything in general, - do you remember them? They put a lot of pressure on the communities to give more and more for the so-called ‘national ministries’. And I’m sure you remember the revelations that followed for both. Until recently, their supporters and admirers were members of the Finance Committee, such as Boston’s chancellor Fr. Barbas, who at a recent meeting of the Finance Committee played the wise guy and now keeps it up despite the punishment of ‘his master’ as happened at the meeting of the Clergy Association of the Metropolis of Boston last week in Weston, MA.

There are cases, as The National Herald is aware, in which Metropolitans appoint to the positions of Metropolitan Councils and Committees permanent yes men, who simply rubber stamp everything without the slightest question. There are cases of Metropolitan Councils that didn’t even have meetings for two years or more.

And while the Metropolitans rightly ask for changes to be made to the persons serving in the parish councils, they have permanent people on their own councils who do not dare to open their mouths to say to the ‘despot’ come here and explain who and why approved the lease of your luxury vehicle? Who approved the expenses of your trip to Greece for the baptism of the granddaughter of so and so, or the marriage of the son of that friend of yours?

And what are people you ‘hosted’ at the costs of tens of thousands of dollars? Whom did you host, where, and why? And if you had an obligation to host them, why did you not pay them with your own salary and from your own fortune, but loaded it onto the backs of parishioners?

The audits and the publication of their findings will help the Church, that is, the Body of the Laity, to begin to trust the Church again. Nobody should forget that they are all volunteers and voluntarily offer their services and resources in the form of contributions, donations, and candles, while the priests and hierarchs are salaried employees of the Church, the Body of the Laity. So simple.