Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church pastor says he’s been reassigned

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Fr Angelo Artemas

Fr Angelo Artemas

Source: WISN 12 News

MILWAUKEE —A  pastor at the Milwaukee’s Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church said he’s being forced out after exposing embezzlement allegations against a former priest.

As WISN 12 News previously reported, the Rev. James Dokos is awaiting trial on theft charges.

Now, the priest who exposed the case told WISN 12 News reporter Nick Bohr he is facing retaliation from his superiors.

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church is a landmark, but it’s recently been the focus of unwanted attention.

Dokos was charged last year with embezzling tens of thousands of dollars to pay personal bills, including steak dinners and jewelry.

The allegations against Dokos came to light after he had transferred to another church and the new pastor, the Rev. Angelo Artemas and parish leaders took the case to the district attorney.

Dokos was suspended when criminal charges were filed last year.

The church is within the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago. WISN 12 News has learned leaders were warned last year in a letter from the Milwaukee District Attorney’s Office about “potential efforts to intimidate witnesses.”

Artemas received emails from his bishop saying that the church is “very open to your release from the Parish and Metropolis if this is not brought to closure.”

Artemas said he was told last week he’s being removed from the Milwaukee parish. He told his congregation last weekend he’s being reassigned against his wishes.

Artemas told WISN 12 News, “I was told in March of 2014 that if the Fr. Dokos investigation led to criminal charges that I would be released. It’s been a long time since I was told that, but I was given no other reason for my reassignment.”

Artemas is being sent to Atlanta.

“While there was a lot of pressure, the pressure resulted in me signing-off on the reassignment to the Atlanta Metropolis. Technically, I’ve agreed to the reassignment,” he said.

Meantime, Dokos is still awaiting trial set for October.

Artemas called his reassignment “discouraging” but not damaging to his faith, telling Bohr there’s always been politics in church hierarchy.

WISN 12 News contacted the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago for comment but hasn’t received a response on Artemas’ reassignment.

Related Stories

Former Annunciation Greek Orthodox Greek Church priest finally appears in court – WISN 12 News
Greek Orthodox priest accused of embezzling doesn’t show in court – WISN 12 News
Former Milwaukee priest removed from Chicago area church – WISN 12 News
Dokos/Kantzavelos Scandal Damages Parish in Illinois – The National Herald
Dokos Case Shows Lack of Church Leadership Skill – The National Herald
Fr. Dokos to be Indicted for Theft – The National Herald
A Letter from a Greek Orthodox Priest – Greek Orthodox Christians for Truth and Reform
Priest Blows Whistle On Bishop, Says He Fears Retaliation For Talking – The National Herald
Judge Slaps Down Priest Charged With Theft – Urban Milwaukee
Chicago bishop warned against intimidating witness – Chicago Tribune
Clergy Misconduct: How Low Can Men of God Go? – The National Herald
Letter to President of Chicago Area Brotherhood regarding the persecution of Fr. Angelo Artemas – Orthodox Christian Laity
Priest appears at hearing on theft charge, bond set – Chicago Tribune
Priest accused of embezzlement a no-show in court again – WISN Milwaukee

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27 Comments

  1. Stacy Sennott on

    I wrote Bishop Andonias an email, who is the head of the Office of the Chancellor in New York at the Archdiocese regarding the re-assignment of Fr. Angelo Artemas. This Bishop was who I was directed to for such concerns. I inquired about this situation and this was his response, and I quote directly from his response:
    “Please know that Fr. Angelo from last year was seeking to move…no one forced him out or asked him to move. He approached my office about a transfer to NY because his daughter was here and then last minute backed out of an assignment i had offered. Then he requested permission to visit Atlanta to look into any openings there. If the Metropolis did not release him at his request, then they would have been accused of holding him hostage or not being responsive to his desires. A lot of misinformation and misrepresentation of the facts has been perpetrated for whatever reasons…and so, lets not fall into the temptation to pass judgement or believe false allegations.”
    Someone is not telling the truth. Based on what I have seen from how this has played out, in how the Metropolis of Chicago denied any wrongdoing by Fr. Dokos, yet the DA has charged him, says it all. I would bet money on Fr. Artemas’ truthfullness over what any of these false teachers called “Bishops” say. In my eyes, it is no longer “Your Grace” when addressing those responsible for this transfer, but “Your Disgrace”.

    • Philip Demos on

      Apparently, as reported today on greeknewsnetwork.com, the Parish Council of Milwaukee was given ALL the correspondences between the priest and the various hierarchs involved. It was not pretty, as the priest stormed out of the meeting once his claims of being forced out were contradicted by his own written words. But it seems strange that the priest who had complained to the press and even signed an online petition to have his hierarchs removed was not “touched” for a year, as he states in the story above. Why would the hierarchs wait?
      Yet perhaps Stacy Sennott is right, and I guess that means that Demetrios will be investigated by the DA of Milwaukee since he was warned that such retaliation would be a criminal act. If Demetrios is investigated and charged by the DA, then there’s the proof. If not, I guess the DA knows more than we do. The proof, as they say, will be in the pudding…

      • Stacy Sennott on

        Hi Bishop Demetrios! It is well known on this site and other blogs that you use Philip Demos as your name on the blogs when you feel the need to to defend yourself. The only time “Philip Demos” appears here and other places is when Bishop Demetrios’ behavior and actions are questioned, and typically “Philip Demos” is the only blogger defending his actions. I think it’s time you mix it up and switch names.

        • Philip Demos on

          If you notice, not once did I defend Demetrios. But good try …the deflection from the topic at hand is worthy of an ardent democrat. And while I gave been called worse than Bishop Demetrios, though not much worse, I will use his name if you will use Hilary Clinton!

  2. Stacy Sennott on

    Additional Facts, all of which are publicly available to all by the DA, as I have seen it myself and can happily provide a copy to anyone who requests it:
    Bishop Demetrios submitted a letter to the DA claiming that disputes regarding Church property, such as the one involving Fr. Dokos, is a Church matter and according to the regulations of the Greek Orthodox Church, such disputes are to be resolved within the Greek Orthodox Church, not the civil authorities. The DA then checked with the Archdiocese in New York to verify this claim by Bishop Demetrios. Jerry Dimitriou and Manny Demos of blessed memory, (attorneys at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in NY), submitted a response to the DA NEGATING the claim by Bishop Demetrios on Church property. These are documented facts.

    • Philip Demos on

      As George Karcazes notes elsewhere on this website (in a reply to me), the letter to which you refer regarding disputes concerning Church property is not from Bishop Demetrios, but Metropolitan Iakovos. That IS a documented fact with the court. But indeed, the Greek Archdiocese does have dispute resolution procedures that can apply to disputes regarding property. However, nowhere is it suggested in the Archdiocesan Regulations that criminal acts, alleged or proven, should not be reported to civil authorities.

    • Philip Demos on

      I am sure you could post a pdf of the court record, a public document, on your petition website or any number of sympathetic blogs. But I do think you are misrepresenting the documented facts of that legal argument.

        • Stacy Sennott on

          My bad…there is always Google Docs right?
          https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_10toy-Tf5xTDNMZGVDMHpya3c/view?usp=sharing
          Pay special attention on Page 4 where the DA states that Bishop Demetrios “was expressly asked whether it would require an interpretation of church law to determine that a Greek Orthodox Priest could not use Parish Funds to purchase jewelry for his wife.” “Bishop Demetrios indicated that this would not require an interpretation of church law and was clearly impermissible.”
          Then pay attention to Page 7, under C where it says, “In his (Fr. Dokos’) motion, the defendant includes a letter from Bishop Demetrios in which he claims that representatives of the Annunciation are using the criminal investigation to block the authority of the Metropolis. As indicated above, Bishop Demetrios received some of the funds at issue in this case. ….he (Bishop Demetrios) took no steps to remove himself despite the existence of what most would perceive as a conflict of interest. Instead Bishop Demetrios came to a conclusion based on information provided by the defendant, that there was no wrongdoing here.”
          Then you will see in the exhibits at the end, the letters from the legal counsel of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese in New York.

        • Stacy Sennott on

          Here is the defense submission…please see at the bottom of Page 7, the defense states “…Bishop Demetrios invoked the Dispute Resolution Procedures because he believed the dispute between Fr. Dokos and the Parish Council over Fr. Dokos’ use of Parish funds was a matter of subject to the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and its regulations.” So with the DA in the previous document, he agrees that Fr. Dokos’ actions were “clearly impermissible”, and “not require an interpretation of church law”, the defense states that he
          says it “was a matter of subject to the jurisdiction of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and its regulations.”
          https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_10toy-Tf5xWlQyejM1UXN1Y0U/view?usp=sharing

          • Philip Demos on

            Hmmm…in an interview Demetrios says what Dokos was alleged to have done would be wrong. Later, long after charges are brought, he writes the DA complaining the Parish is using the notion of witness tampering to avoid communication with the Metropoljs and has gone rogue. Where is Demetrios’ letter to the court saying it has no jurisdiction to try Dokos? You show all others…why not that one?

            • Philip Demos on

              Seems two different arguments are being merged…one about court jurisdiction over Dokos and one regarding Metropolis jurisdiction over Parish Council. Demetrios does not argue against Dokos prosecution, he argues against being unable to adminster parish AFTER charges were brought. Thats how it clearly reads. Dokos’ lawyer uses it to support but not make his case.

              • Philip Demos on

                But you claimed Demetrios wrote a letter. One quote appears, and lawyers talk about it…and lawyers talk as they wish…You post other latters from the Archdiocese but not from Demetrios. Why not?

                • Philip Demos on

                  And in the end, isnt the Metropolitan the one who approves transfers? Doesnt Demetrios, an assistant bishop and chamcellor, have to have his Metropolitan’s approval? Did Demetrios release Artemas or did the Metropolitan?

                  • George D. Karcazes on

                    Philip, Philip, Philip! There you go again. The Metropolitan doesn’t know what his Chancellor/Bishop is doing.. and his Chancellor/Bishop doesn’t know what the Metropolitan is doing? Do you want everyone to believe that they are like two ships passing in the night? The Metropolitan wrote this letter.. but the Bishop wrote the other letter, and neither of them had anything to do with what the other was doing? As the DA (designated apologist) for the Metropolitan and Bishop you need to do better than that. Before you can convince everyone that the Metropolitan makes every decision all by himself and the Bishop just shows up for all the photo-ops, you have to believe it yourself. You really don’t do you?

                    • Philip Demos on

                      George, your comment is bizarre. Sennott made a claim which is erroneous. I point it out and you attempt to insert a comment about somethinh I did not assert. I simply posited through a rhetorical question, that the Metropolitan had to authorize what she credited the Chancellor doing. I was not seeking to separate the two.

                    • George D. Karcazes on

                      A rhetorical question is “a question to which no answer is expected”.. which seems to explain why I see that you post a comment at 3:04 am, follow it with a comment at 3:09 am, add a comment at 3:14 am.. and a comment at 3:17 am. The bishop threatens the priest in an email and the Metropolitan signs the document releasing him. Is this the Lone Ranger and Tonto? Or is this a coincidence? Don’t answer those questions. They are rhetorical.

                    • Philip Demos on

                      Lol. Now your age is showing. We agree that the Metropolitan is ultimately responsible and yet you argue the point. You’re almost as disingenuous as the priest you think you can defend.

  3. Philip Demos on

    So Rev. Artemas claimed to be released without an assignment to the press and his parishioners while seeking a reassignment in New York and Atlanta because he was unhappy with his compensation. Even when he knew he was released to Atlanta he tells WISN he was released without an assignment as he announced to his parish AFTER notification he was going to Atlanta. Stacy Sennott can claim she believes him and doubt the truthfulness of others. But even she has to see that Artemas was at least disingenuous in claiming he was being released without assignment. He requested his release to Atlanta, and that’s what occurred. So if thus was retaliation…after a year or so…or not, Artemas clearly intended to portray himself as a martyr by withholding many of the facts in order to make his hierarchs look bad. In an interview elsewhere, he claimed clergy needed ethics training to avoid doing what Dokos did. But more basic is sumple honesty and the truism that two wrongs don’t make a right…
    If he had simply stuck to the truth about the Dokos situation perhaps he would be worthy of our respect. That is not what he did. And it seems rather expected that after calling for the removal of his superiors that they might not want him around anymore. That’s how it works in the real world…in fact it seems generous that they didnt simply fire him. My boss would’ve fired me if I treated her the way Artemas treated his.
    So even if the hierarchs were wrong, Artemas is far from being innocent in this affair. His own difficulty with the truth of his situation only serves to muddle the entire story. The hierarchs may not have dealt with the Dokos affair in the best manner, but Artemas’ claims about coverup and retaliation are dubious now. If he claimed from the start he was seekung to leave because of the hierarchs and parish finances, he would have the credibility he no longer has. In fact, he is the only petson in this whole affair who has been demonstrably deceptive..

    • Philip Demos on

      Oh no….I must qualify my previous statement. Artemas is the only clergy in this affair that has been demonstrably deceptive (Dokos has not yet been proven guilty). I don’t believe any of the hierarchs involved have been accused of lying (though accused of quite a bit of other stuff!). But others have been deceptive, if not outright deceitful: Stacy Sennott and George Karcazes, for both have attributed to Bishop Demetrios things that was not responsible for, and perpetuating the myth that Artemas was somehow being persecuted or his release was retaliatory for the Dokos case.
      1.) Sennot and Karcazes both claim Demetrios was responsible for transferring Artemas, but that is the Metropolitan’s decision, not a Chancellor (as they both know well). Both suggested that Demetrios sought to influence the court through a letter regarding Dokos’ case, though Karcazes elsewhere on this website showed it was, in fact, Iakovos…though even then his thoughts are speculative since he notes the letter is sealed.
      2.) Both know that Artemas was not being released without an assignment, as Artemas claimed… to the press, his Parish Council and the parishioners of Milwaukee…though later stating he was “pressured” by the hierarchs to ask for a release (despite complaining about payroll issues which Sennott elsewhere admits!). But this means he knew all along he was going to Atlanta while claiming ignorance of his assignment. Why would he hold that back?
      3. Sennot, on her petition website, seems to know quite a bit about Artemas’ compensation at Milwaukee, though she is not a member there (being from his former parish in Glenview), and Artemas is the first “signature” on her petition. Apparently her relationship with Artemas seems rather close, and both their stories have shifted somewhat when more evidence is brought to light. They seem to share, at least, an agenda in attacking their own hierarchs and Chancellor. Interestingly, while praising the courage of petitioners on her website, Sennott has concealed her own identity on the site. 4. Furthermore, that site claims retaliation against people for signing the petition, though no names are mentioned, and the President of the Milwaukee parish signed it (and apparently remains President; in fact, several known Parish Council members signed it and remain in their positions. Likewise, it claims financial harm to several parishes some of which don’t seem to have any more or less financial problems than many parishes, and there is no evidence for the claim. Finally, there is a claim that the hierarchs are sympathetic to the Ephraimites, or fundamentalist clergy, even though most of the criticism over the years directed toward Iakovos and Demetrios has come from such quarters for their liberal stance on numerous matters, not to mention that a huge donor to the monasteries, Attorney Mamalakis, was leading the charge against Dokos (obviously not a fundamentalist) whom Sennott claims the hierarchs tried to protect.

      It does seem that the lengthy and almost hysterical rants against Demetrios and/or Iakovos arising from the Dokos/Artemas scandals, comes from a dark place, one that is ultimately a big distraction from the real needs of parishioners in Milwaukee and Glenview. In Knoxville, a treasurer stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the parish, and the parish chose to recoup their losses but otherwise not seek prosecution. Must be a healthy parish that enjoys good pastoral leadership. In Glenview and Milwaukee (both led for some years by Dokos and Artemas) there just seems to be a lot of vindictiveness. Too bad. With all the effort, Sennott and Karcazes could have helped their communities heal. Apparently that’s not their interest. They would rather get even for the injustice they and like minded people see.

      • Stacy Sennott on

        You claim Mr. Karcazes states erroneous statements? You state I am not a member of the Milwaukee Church…why would you say this when you truly don’t know if I am a member? Erroneous statements = slander. Here is my year end stewardship statement:
        https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_10toy-Tf5xTEVham9GVG5NT3c/view?usp=sharing

        You claim that petition site is mine. Why would you say this when you truly don’t know this? Where anywhere is my name associated with this site, other than my signature on that petition? Erroneous=slander

        It is clear that you will go to any length “Mr Demos”, especially when your real name is not revealed. You can say whatever you wish when your true name is not attached of course. So unless you want to reveal your true identity, I have nothing more to say.

        • Philip Demos on

          You (!) have nothing more to say? If only it were true. I, however, have no idea why you and Mr. Karcazes question my identity. And yes, technically my family name was shortened when my great grandfather came to this country (from Demopoulos), but that was before my time. And if you are no longer a member of the Glenview parish as I thought you were, or are perhaps a member of both now, I do apologize. Wouldn’t necessarily say a mistaken fact is slander, but then with you and Karcazes I am not surprised it is called such…
          As for the petition site, if I am mistaken, then my apologies. Of course, you don’t deny it, either. And I don’t know why you would claim it is slanderous to be associated with it as you signed it, as you are the most vociferous advocate of Artemas (even writing to the Archdiocese Chancellor) and seem to have specific knowledge of his compensation from Milwaukee (“promised apartment”). Apparently, you are very close. But it still seems strange to me that you defend someone who claimed publicly–after he was informed he was going to Atlanta–that he was released without knowing where he was going. Don’t know why Artemas thinks his disingenuousness was to his benefit, but also don’t understand why you have gone to such lengths to defend that. It is certainly of no benefit to him, to you, or your fellow parishioners.

        • Philip Demos on

          Apparently, despite the earlier reports that Fr. Stratis did not seek prosecution, the parishioners have not followed suit, though that is really a secondary point. Even in the article you cite, he calls for mercy and forgiveness. Didn’t hear that from Artemas in relation to his brother priest. But don’t get me wrong (though I suspect you will intentionally do so), I have no issue with the prosecution of someone who steals. I just also have no problem with the people of the Church seeking to live up to the ideals of their Lord.
          Finally, because the conversation is now quite tiresome, I am not the spokesperson or defensive advocate of any person, be it clergy or no. I do occasionally write on other matters on this website, such as responding to someone who made unfair criticisms of a theologian who rightly critiqued a certain fundamentalist perspective, and generally when comments are either blatantly wrong or unfair–but generally refrain when others have done that adequately.
          If I tend to write more “defensively” regarding the attacks of a Karcazes or your own on hierarchs, it is because what is most bothersome to me is the dissonance between those who claim they are working for the lofty and necessary goal of Orthodox unity but believe the only way to do so is by uttering divisive words and negative criticism.
          The truth is that Artemas wanted to leave for the reasons you admit: his compensation and the financial difficulties of the parish (they could not make payroll, his apartment issue and long commute). That he chose to portray himself as a victim, and you and Karcazes defended his supposed victimhood, is simply unbecoming. Whether you like the choices of his hierarchs or not, in the end he did not need to lie about it. He lied to the people of Glenview by suggesting he was forced out. He lied to Milwaukee and the general public about his “fear” of being unemployed (when that was never an issue even though his hierarch could have removed him from his position at any time) when he knew he was going to Atlanta. If he had said, from the start, I am seeking to leave because of a, b, and c, then I would have no issue, and might even be sympathetic. Sounds to me like he got a raw deal when he CHOSE to go to Milwaukee, apparently unaware of how bad things were. But he could’ve taken the high road. Instead he chose to go low. You and Karcazes might even have been complimented on defending a priest who you apparently care about very much. But you chose to go low too. There is a right way to advocate for positive change. Your way is not it, because it itself is not positive in tone or spirit. Now you begin your attack on me and my so-called false identity, but I would note that not everyone in Milwaukee or Glenview, the parishes closest to Artemas and Dokos, have signed that petition. Regardless of my name, my words are simply offered to note that all your accusations and somewhat hysterical reaction reflect one of the very reasons why the Greek Archdiocese has, in fact, so many problems. We would rather each fight for our own victimized viewpoint and agenda than solve the real issues of the day. It would probably be wiser for us to listen to what pastors such as Fr. Stratis in Knoxville or the Chicago Clergy Syndesmos say (unless, like Demetrios, Iakovos, and Andonios, they also are just a bunch of liars).
          So in the end, it is not really your cause that is objectionable; it is your method. Attacking in the press or online, or in a conference room does not heal divisions or schisms, does not right wrongs; acrimonious bickering does not bring peace.