By Brett Hyndman
An Archdiocese budget analysis sheds some light on the financial (and not only) crisis in the GOA.
A few days ago, Michael Psaros officially declared he’d resign in October as the treasurer of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese. “I think we really fixed things with the heroic efforts of five volunteer officers, but the actions today actually blew up and destroyed everything that we worked for over the last nine months [since August 2017].” he told the National Herald.
At the end of June “concerned members of the GOA Finance Committee” disseminated a document, according to which there is no way to solve the crisis. The hierarchs must have been lying to their laity and the press about the relevant issues with the budget. Moreover, to hide it, there was presented a “new and revised” budget which raises a lot of questions and is not transparent at all.
The Archdiocese claims a “major reduction of expenses” of $8 million that is far from reality and produces a false impression of a solution. According to the authors, the actual expenses reduction was artificially increased and actually makes up to $2.7 million.
The analysis includes a budget comparison table (which the proposed budget lacks) so that one could see the real changes made. According to it, the expenditures in 2018 will only rise. The Archdiocese removed the revenue that was net against the expenses from the original budget, which resulted in a false expenses reduction. Added back, it shows that there is a gap of about $5 million between the actual numbers and what was adopted.
Another point that draws attention is the relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the funding of the Hellenic College / Holy Cross. According to the revised 2018 budget, the Patriarchate Grant was reduced from $2 to $1 million and the HC / HC grant reduced by $500 thousand to reach $1 million. However the members of the Council say that Archbishop Demetrios, who overrode their strong objections against the increase of the EP Grant by $1 million in 2016, has always been against cutting the EP expenses. The same is with the HC / HC.
Moreover, according to Demetrios, the Patriarchate “not requested but demanded” that the Grant was increased. What’s this? The crisis in the GOAarch had been aggravating for a few years, and Constantinople knew this very well. Instead of aiding its Archdiocese, it only introduced higher “taxes”.
Great concern is caused by incomes. According to the new budget, fundraising lose its role. The line item of “Major Gifts and Unrestricted Contributions” has been completely removed from it. This may be a transition from raising unrestricted contributions to parish funding, which took place in the 1980s. It means all the attempts of the Council to balance the budget with an allocation of 60% to the Parishes and 40% from major donations have failed.
Now, it’s evident that the issues with St. Nicholas Church were just a beginning. The recent events related to the Archdiocese aren’t just disturbing. They show that the GOArch’s fate is at stake, and this is the fate of hundreds of thousands Orthodox Christians.