Source: The National Herald
The case of Fr. James Dokos, former presiding priest of the Annunciation Parish in Milwaukee has brought to light once again a lack of leadership in the Greek Orthodox Church, on the Archdiocesan and Metropolis levels.
The Milwaukee DA has charged Dokos with theft of trust funds, and Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos with attempt to interfere with the judicial process.
First of all Fr. Dokos should not have been involved with financial issues involving his parishioners including assuming the role of caretaker of the trust established by the Franczak family.
Undoubtedly, this entire unholy incident could have been dealt with from the very beginning some three years ago when it was first made public, if there had been true leadership.
The official charge by the authorities against Fr. Dokos proves very clearly that in this great country of law and order, nobody is above the law – not even priests.
Certainly, we all should keep in mind that a charge of a crime does not necessarily equate guilt. The accused, after all, are considered innocent until proven otherwise.
Nonetheless, when a priest who is the “steward of the mysteries of God” is being accused for theft, I think it should concern the whole Church and especially those who hold official administrative positions and responsibilities.
It is well-known that there are priests who, unfortunately, from time to time approach old and lonely parishioners, showing them concern and pastoral care, in return for cash, cars, and even real property, as did Margaret Franczak, who transferred her Florida home and car to Fr. Dokos.
There are also cases that priests spent hours and hours day and night in the hospitals at the bedside of old and childless individuals and become under shady conditions executors of their Wills and Trusts or, worse yet, beneficiaries.
It seems strange as to how and why Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos using his authority as chancellor of the Metropolis of Chicago transferred Dokos from the Annunciation parish of Milwaukee after 22 years of pastorship there to the parish of Saints Peter and Paul in Glenview, IL, in turn compelling Fr. Angelo Artemas to be transferred from Saints Peter and Paul to the Annunciation.
It seems even more strange that Dokos gave money to Bishop Demetrios from Franczak’s Trust since he is in a direct way his ecclesiastical superior. Dokos also gave monies to Metropolitans Tarasios of Buenos Aires and Nikitas of Daranellia, Director of the Athenagoras Institute of Orthodox Theology in California.
If there was Archbishopric leadership in the Archdiocese, this issue should have been alarming. Once again, ecclesiological and canonically speaking, there is only one ruling Bishop in this Archdiocese, Archbishop Demetrios of America, Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, simply because there only one Ecclesiastical Eparchy, the Archdiocese.
The rest of the Metropolitans are a strange mixture between Titular Metropolitans and Auxiliary Bishops. We are talking about an “ecclesiological travesty” here because the Metropolitans are commemorated in the Liturgy and in other Sacred Services as “shepherds” (Poimenarches) from Monday to Saturday, but when Archbishop Demetrios visits a Metropolis on a Sunday morning, only he is commemorating as “shepherd” and the local Bishop simply as “hierarch.”
The Metropolises are not autonomous and self-sustained Metropolises having their reference directly to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, although they commemorate the Patriarch’s name in the Eucharist and in the Sacred Services because if they commemorated the Archbishop’s name the Archdiocese automatically would have been Autonomous.
Proposals: 1) The archbishop should issue an order to prohibit all priests in getting involved in the finances of their parishioners such as wills, trusts, etc.
2) The archbishop should recall immediately Bishop Demetrios from the Chicago Metropolis to the Archdiocese in New York because in reality and canonically Bishop Demetrios is Archbishop Demetrios’ auxiliary Bishop.
3) The archbishop should place Bishop Demetrios on Liturgical suspension until this whole scandalous issue is resolved in the courts.
4) The archbishop should direct Bishop Demetrios, and intervene to Patriarch Bartholomew to the other two, Tarasios and Nikitas, to return the money because essentially, it belongs to the Annunciation parish.
5) The archbishop should invite Metropolitan Iakovos of Chicago to retire due to his age, now with dignity before things get further out of control. Certainly other Metropolitans should leave for reasons of age as well, and also because they have really destroyed their Metropolises and have paralyzed many parishes.
Mr. Kalmoukos has proposed five actions that the Archbishop can (and should) institute immediately. The Archbishop is a respected scholar and pious individual. Unfortunately, he appears to resist taking forceful administrative actions he finds to be personally distasteful. He needs support from the faithful, rather than criticism. The Archbishop must be convinced that “wishing the problem away” hurts the Church more than taking the actions proposed by Mr. Kalmoukos. It is time for the laity to fulfill its role as the “Royal Priesthood” of believers. The lay members of the Archdiocesan, Metropolis, and Parish Councils must speak out. Individually and collectively they must urge the Archbishop to act. Finally, every individual steward of the Archdiocese should also contact the Archbishop and urge him to act on the proposals set forth by Mr. Kalmoukos, as the first steps in the reforms that are needed. Email the Archbishop at: [email protected], or write to him c/o Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 10 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10021.