Source: The National Herald
BOSTON, MA – The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America will take a $10 million loan, with its headquarters – the two buildings located at 8-10 East 79th Street in New York City as collateral – as was announced during the meeting at the Boston Metropolis on March 1.
The meeting was called by Metropolitan Methodios in hope of providing some explanation, because there is a high degree of disappointment and mistrust in Boston after the astonishing revelations made by The National Herald about the dire situation of the finances in which the Archdiocese found itself.
It was initially announced that George Tsandikos, Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council, was scheduled to travel to Boston to conduct the meeting, but he canceled at the last minute, citing an emergency. Instead Rev. Soterios Baroody, CFO of the Archdiocese, Catherine Boufides-Walsh, its general counsel, attended in his stead.
Regarding the loan, Baroody initially hesitated to respond, saying he didn’t know how much the loan would be and from which bank. Walsh clarified the amount and that the two buildings would serve as collateral, but also stated she didn’t know which bank would be the lender or what the interest rate would be.
Methodios, a member of the Holy Eparchial Synod who is first in rank after Archbishop Demetrios, presided and offered an opening prayer. Attending were priests, parish council presidents and members, and Philoptochos members.
Baroody reportedly said “the Archdiocese is not as you know it,” referring to instances when the organization did not have funds even to issue a $100 check or mail letters.
It is reminded here that the Herald had revealed that UPS and Federal Express refused the Archdiocese’s credit and would provide services only upon cash on delivery.
Reportedly, Walsh made an indirect reference to ousted former Executive Director Jerry Dimitriou, stating there was only one person responsible for the finances, the budget, the payroll, and accounts payable.
Also discussed was rampant use of credit cards and mobile phones with no checks on expenses. The attendees remained speechless, and after the meeting acknowledged to one another these revelations made public by the Herald.
Walsh said that measures have now been taken, “we have established systems and internal controls.”
It also became known at the meeting that the audit of the Archdiocese was conventional, not forensic. Only the audit regarding the St. Nicholas National Shrine is forensic. It was said money from the St. Nicholas restricted accounts was transferred to the Archdiocese’s operating accounts to cover expenses, though Baroody and Walsh did not indicate how much.
Baroody added that the Archdiocese sent its allocation to the Ecumenical Patriarchate as well as to the Holy Cross Theological School.
Fr. Peter Giannakopoulos, presiding priest at St.George in Hyannis Cape Cod spoke extensively and to the point about the financial situation, especially about the issue of the Clergy Pension Fund telling Baroody that the Archdiocese had not put $654,000 into the fund. Baroody disputed the amount, saying it would be best to wait until the audit is over to see if the amounts are congruent, but Giannakopoulos said he knows what is going on because he worked as a comptroller.
Also, mention was reportedly made of a 30 percent reduction in Archdiocesan staff, and it was emphasized that the Metropolis wanted a Clergy-Laity Congress in Boston to inform the people that “we have put in place order, process, and internal controls.”
On request of anonymity for the time being, numerous attendees told TNH that “the situation is much worse than you have written. The Archdiocesan representatives didn’t give us detailed reports with numbers, but only assurances that they have instituted regulations for the finances. Nothing substantial was achieved at this meeting; we wasted our time.”