[ditty_news_ticker id="27897"] Let the Parishes Decide What Amount to Contribute to the Archdiocese - Orthodox Christian Laity
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Let the Parishes Decide What Amount to Contribute to the Archdiocese

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Source: The National Herald

Analysis by Theodore Kalmoukos

A group of volunteer chefs at the St. George Piscataway Greek Festival. Photo: TNH/ Michael Kakias

We have occasionally dealt with the issue of the financial contributions of the parishes to the Archdiocese, either indirectly, when the ‘taxation’ increases periodically – because that’s essentially what it is – or when problems arise from parishes that struggle financially and cannot keep up with the ever-increasing demands from the Archdiocese. These demands are passed down to the Metropolises and then to the communities. There is a chain system that ultimately ends with the faithful, who are bombarded with requests for donations week after week.

This week’s Analysis is prompted by the recent revelation by our newspaper about the 9% increase of these financial contributions over the next two years, 2025 and 2026. Undoubtedly, the budget amounts and their uneven distribution directly indicate the maintenance cost of the “luxurious life” of Archbishop Elpidophoros, including travels, gifts, limousines, and other extravagant expenses. It also points to the wastefulness and the indulgence of his close associates, strategists, and public relations people both here and in Greece, in the construction of his image. The budget amounts and their distribution vividly demonstrate the wrong priorities that prevail.

It is an open secret that communities generally struggle financially, and if it weren’t for the legendary Festivals where our people in the communities literally roast lambs, goats, pigs, and other meats, some communities might have already closed. This is the harsh reality, regardless of the Archdiocesan pretentiousness that we are grand, and strong and so on, always speaking in superlative terms.

Our communities are turning into Greek restaurants in order to survive. The two largest expenses for communities are the salaries of the priests and the contributions to the Archdiocese. These two drain the financial resources of the communities, leaving little money for essential projects such as Greek education. Compare the budget of $260,000 for education to the $1,100,000 million for Archbishop Elpidophoros’ office, or the $885,000 for Safioleas and draw your own conclusions.

The employees, clergy, and laypeople of all ranks in the Archdiocese, from the comfort of their air-conditioned offices, with everything paid for by the donations of our faithful, sit in front of their computers and determine the ‘tax’ assessed on the communities without asking anyone and without caring how this money will be raised. And for validation, there is an appointed committee that always agrees and ratifies. I admit that the disagreement expressed by 17 members of the Archdiocesan Council was a surprise. It showed that there are still some who resist and protest, and it is to their credit because it shows that their conscience remains awake.

Hierarchs and priests are turning into ‘tax collectors’, begging communities to give more for the needs of the Church, so that Archbishop Elpidophoros can live a generally flourishing life. And his courtiers, who have found the fat cows called the Archdiocese and Leadership 100, greedily milk them without accountability to anyone, while when pressed to report, they resort to misleading reports as if addressing fools.

Τhe situation has gotten out of hand. Proposal: each community should decide for itself how much to give annually to the Archdiocese, and not be imposed upon by the Archdiocese without being asked.

Let the communities decide, saying this is how much we can give; if you want it, take it, if not, we will use it for better purposes. And if they start with threats and the usual bullying towards the communities, saying if you don’t pay this amount we will take your priest, the response should come uniformly from 50 or 100 or 200 communities, and indeed let them take them and pay for priests themselves. When the multitude of the Church, (η πλήθουσα Εκκλησία) the people of God, realizes that without them there can be no Patriarchs, no Archbishops, no Metropolitans, no Priests, no Deacons, and that all these are essentially employees of the people of God, then the great change and purification will begin. Otherwise, it won’t be long before we find ourselves in suffocating dead ends.

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