THE TIME FOR ORTHODOX UNITY IS NOW!

John A. Catsimatidis Calls on Archbishop Demetrios to Resign

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Source: The National Herald

John Catsimatidis. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, file)

By TNH Staff

NEW YORK – Prominent Greek-American businessman and great benefactor of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, Mr. John A. Catsimatidis, in an open letter calls on His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America to resign because he has led the Church to a dire condition.

Catsimatidis wrote that “The financial mismanagement that has occurred is inexcusable. Saint Nicholas at Ground Zero should be our crowning jewel; instead we are a national embarrassment. The Archdiocese has misused funds, the priests’ pensions, and God knows what else! The Seminary is in danger of closing, but the Archbishop refuses to resign, saying that he wants to fix the problems. But he is the one who was in charge when these problems happened in the first place!”

He emphasizes that “unfortunately, Archbishop Demetrios is holding on to his office at the expense of the Church.”

The entire text of Catsimatidis’ open letter follows:

I have been involved in Church affairs my whole life.

As an Altarboy, as a donor to numerous Churches, Ministries and Institutions, as an advisor, as Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council, as a participant in the life of our Archdiocese.

I served both Archbishops prior to Archbishop Demetrios and I have never seen a worse crisis than what we are facing now.

Loss of Credibility

Unfortunately, Archbishop Demetrios is holding on to his office at the expense of the Church.

The time has come for the crisis of Church leadership and management to come to a close.

The financial mismanagement that has occurred is inexcusable. Saint Nicholas at Ground Zero should be our crowning jewel; instead we are a national embarrassment. The Archdiocese has misused funds, the priests’ pension, and God knows what else! The Seminary is in danger of closing, but the Archbishop refuses to resign, saying that he wants to fix the problems. But he is the one who was in charge when these problems happened in the first place!

When I think of my late friends, Nicholas Bouras and Michael Jaharis, and how they supported Archbishop Demetrios, and how their sacrifices have been squandered by a combination of inexperience and pride, I feel embarrassed that this has been allowed to go on.

Archbishop Demetrios is ninety years old, and whatever good he did is now being wasted by his refusal to accept responsibility, and his desire for position and glory. But there is no glory in failure.

All of us, clergy and laity alike, are responsible for the health of our Church. I, for one, know there are many who are ready and willing to step up and fix the problems. But we will only step up to our responsibilities when the Archbishop accepts his responsibility for the mess we are in and steps down.

Even retired Pope Benedict says it was his “duty” to resign from papacy.

Your Eminence its time that you retire.

It should be done before the Clergy Laity Congress.

Let’s have a New Beginning for the Church on America’s 4th of July.

John A. Catsimatidis
Former Vice Chairman of the Archdiocesan Council

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3 Comments

  1. Photius Underwood on

    Plenty of people need to be held accountable for the current failures of the GOA. This includes all of those leaders who served on the Archdiocesan Council and did nothing while voting time and again for the status quo and enabling a culture of poor stewardship. Real Reform not only means the resignation of the Archbishop and his brother bishops but it also includes the removal of many leaders who hold positions of power today. These people need to step forward and resign or there will be no real change.

    My cousin says it best in this video: https://youtu.be/GIXFsy924BI

  2. George D. Karcazes on

    Removing the Archbishop and replacing him with another figure-head to preside over a colonial Synod sitting in NY, appointed by the “mother” Synod in Istanbul solves nothing. The new appointee will have no more authority than our current Archbishop has had. While I agree that the Archbishop probably should have retired gracefully some years ago his removal will not solve the systemic and notional problems of the GOA.

    Systemic: Substantive changes need to be made to both the UPR and the Charter to restore the voice of the laity in the administration of the Archdiocese. [Note: If the EP doesn’t approve the Charter changes needed to allow the Church in the US to manage its own affairs, everyone should heed the recent call of Mr. Valiotis for Autocephaly]

    Notional: The lay leadership of the Archdiocese must understand that they have fiduciary responsibilities to all of the faithful stewards of the Church in the US for the administration of the Archdiocese.

    The Archdiocesan Council (AC) has the power to make all of the changes needed to insure that the administration of the Archdiocese is “transparent and accountable.” The AC is the “highest legislative body of the Archdiocese between Clergy-Laity Congresses”. Even before the Congress convenes in Boston next month the AC can amend the UPR and offer changes to the Charter for approval by Istanbul that actually fulfills the FIDUCIARY DUTY that the members of the AC actual have. If they don’t act now, and prsent the chages to the C-L Congress, there will be nothing on the agenda to insure changes. There will only be “discussions” and some venting of frustrations on the part of delegates

    I applaud the millionaires and billionaires who have bailed out the Archdiocese over the years, and who according to Mr. Catsimatidis, are prepared to come up with $10-20 million more to complete the St. Nicholas Shrine at Ground Zero, but only after the Archbishop resigns.

    I’m sure they are well meaning. I assume that most, if not all of them are members of the AC. Most are probably Archons of the Patriarchate in Istanbul. Most are members of L100. A few are also members of FAITH. Some have probably been awarded the Medal of St. Paul. Some have no doubt received honorary degrees from HC/HC. Many have probably attended countless meetings of the AC, some even the Executive Committee of the AC. Many have sat at the head tables at banquets and black-tie dinners t C-L Congresses.

    What the current financial and mismanagement crisis should have brought into sharp focus to all of them is that serving on the AC imposes fiduciary duties on them. Writing big checks to finish the St. Nicholas Shrine will not stop the decline in the membership of parishes across the country. There are many reasons for the decline. If confidence in the administration of the Archdiocese is not restored very, very soon.. none of the other problems we face can be addressed. The Archdiocese can be kept on “life-support” for a while by large gifts from wealthy donors, but that will not insure the survival, let alone growth of Orthodoxy in America.

    The first order of business is to change the UPR and Charter to insure that the administration of the GOA is truly transparent and accountable. Then the 14 “ethnic” jurisdictions in the US must be united under a single Synod that elects it own presiding bishop. A single, united, Autocephalous Orthodox Church in the US can grow and support all of the “mother” Churches in the Old World. Individual parishes can retain their unique customs, languages and traditions as long as they are needed to serve the people in the pews.

    OCL has been an educational lay effort [with clergy and hierarchical advisory members] advocating this position for more than 30 years. If the AC and others in leadership positions do not act not, it may be too late.

  3. George, thank you for your practical suggestions. As you state, Orthodox unity in necessary and I believe is God’s vision for the Church. However, caution is needed when the Church becomes dependent on “big donors.” Many of these individuals may be faithful Orthodox Christians but they should not govern the direction of the church by virtue of their financial status. St James warns against attributing special honor to the wealthy yet the church continues to do so.

    Furthermore, for genuine and meaningful change to take place REPENTANCE is needed, both among the hierarchs and the laity. With repentance God gets involved. Without repentance we will just create another Tower of Babel.

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