The National Herald - January 6-12, 2018


By Antonis H. Diamataris

Archbishop Spyridon
of America

As I was looking through some forgotten, unread books recently, one in particular that caught my eye was: Spyridon, Archbishop of America, 1996-1999, the Legacy, edited by Justine Fragouli-Argyris and published by Ellinika Grammata.

Obviously I had not read it when it was published because, admittedly, I am not a Spyridon devotee, and mainly because I did not think I would find anything useful in it. I was wrong.

Opening it, I found something not only enlightening, but quite relevant to the current deplorable state of the Archdiocese’s finances.

I quote from the Preface and the section “Navigation Line” (page 17) the following: “Particularly sensitive to the issue of finance of the Archdiocese, since [Spyridon] received the agency injured by the scandal of the sale of Archbishop Iakovos’ Westchester residence, he placed as a financial supervisor the late James Paulos, to deal with the finances of the organization. On the day of [Spyridon’s] resignation, the Archdiocese showed a zero operating deficit. A $1.8 million debt, resulting from the patriarchal visit to the United States in November, 1997, certainly did not come from the good administration of John Catsimatidis [then the Archdiocesan Council’s Vice-President].”

And after referring to the Demetrios-Michael Jaharis era, it adds: “Today, the organization suffocates from a new deficit of $12 million, growing with mathematical precision…This is how the misty landscape of the Archdiocese of America seems to be, driven to decline, without much hope of recovery, outlined today in 2005.”

The book, I emphasize, was published in 2005. I find it interesting that Spyridon understood the importance of good financial management and that, in collaboration with the people he chose, he could, and did, reduce the deficit to zero.

It is encouraging, as this shows that the Archdiocese can do its work within the limits of the capabilities of our communities and the people who maintain it, if it sets realistic goals and exercises good administration.

But as it is clear now that Archbishop Demetrios did not follow that – Spyridon speaks of “a lack of administrative capacity” – more than doubling the Archdiocese’s budget.

The most important point regarding all of this is that the Archdiocese’s finances, were always difficult, even in the best years, and demanded a lot of attention in their management. The main reason is that they rely, almost exclusively, on the voluntary disposition and strength of the Greek community. The Church is not financed by the State, as is the case in Greece, because there is separation of church and state here. (The same is true of the media, which the State treats like any other business. No discount, for example, on newsprint, one of the biggest expenses of a newspaper.)

Finance has always been difficult. Just as some archbishops were better at managing finances or hiding problems better than others, or having more generous friends than others. This means that the Archdiocese ought to monitor and know the potential of our community – which changes over the years – and act on that basis.

Still, it has to do everything it can to rely on many – the believers – rather than on the few. If some of the few, for some reason, stop contributing, that can cause a very serious problem. While even if many of the many decide not to contribute, then at most an adjustment of the targeting strategy is needed.

The National Herald - - January 5, 2018


Jeffdiner says:
January 5, 2018 at 10:56 pm

To this day I still don’t understand why Spiridonas was driven out. He seemed like a very likable and personable leader. Is it because he wanted a balanced budget and didn’t cave in to the wasteful demands from some in the archdiocese? Is it because he was an outsider and not part of clique here in America that seemed and continues to tolerate perversions by some of the clergy and theft of donations from the faithful? Was he the target of fake accusations and people just believed the lies ? What is the opinion of TNH I’m really interested in what you have to say.

[ The National Herald - January 6-12, 2018 - p. 12 ]
[ The National Herald -
  - January 5, 2018 ]