A strongly worded letter was circulated to dozens of members of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s Finance Committee by its vice chair, Mr. Lazaros Kircos, warning them to keep their mouths shut on matters pertaining to the ongoing financial crisis on Manhattan’s Upper East Side— headquarters of the Archdiocese.
The letter, amongst other things, warned them that “leaking,” as he called it, “may be a violation of New York law,” adding that “Leakers” need to understand they may be putting themselves personally and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese at risk under New York law.”
The letter referred to media reports that included leaked information about Archdiocese finances without mentioning the news source or the specific news item.
The Pappas Post has published numerous articles pertaining to the long string of problems facing the Archdiocese— many of which have included what Mr. Kircos refers to as “leaked” information.
I beg to differ with his personal analysis about the evils of “leaking” and prefer to refer to those he calls “leakers” as… whistleblowers.
A bigger question one must ask, when talking about putting the Archdiocese at risk is… Who exactly is putting the Archdiocese at risk? Those who want to shed light on potential corruption, excessive wasteful spending and bad financial practices— or those perpetrating or hiding these practices?
In every case that we have published a story that has included “leaked” information, it has been done in the spirit of transparency to illuminate the darkness that has plagued this Archdiocese for years.
Revealing that restricted funds have been violated— maybe even against the law— is not leaking, Mr. Kircos. It’s shedding light on dubious practices with funds collected from hundreds of thousands of faithful who have spent hours volunteering and have given of their own time, talents and treasures.
When the very institution that they’ve entrusted with their hard-earned money is squandering and mismanaging that money— they have a right to know.
Revealing that the crown jewel of the Archdiocese— the seminary, where generations of priests past, present and future are trained— is borrowing money against its dwindling endowment… well, thank God for those “leakers” who shed light on the dark ways of the current leadership so that perhaps, something may be done to safeguard what’s left of the School’s finances.
Revealing that millions of dollars that was raised to re-build St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at Ground Zero— the ONLY house of worship destroyed on 9/11— has been squandered or spent on operations of the Archdiocese that have nothing to do with St. Nicholas… This isn’t leaking. This is letting the faithful who donated that money know that those entrusted to be guardians of their money haven’t been doing their job.
This whole mess has been brought on exactly because of the cloak of darkness and secrecy that the finances of the Archdiocese have been hiding under for years, behind the robes of Archbishop Demetrios of America.
How therefore can you say, Mr. Kircos that, “The release of information to the public is the decision of His Eminence, Archbishop Demetrios Geron of America?”
Is it really prudent and responsible to assign the duty of controlling valuable information to a single individual, especially someone who is likely to withold or even exploit critical information, as has already been done repeatedly?
The lack of transparency and secrecy is what got the Archdiocese into this mess in the first place. To threaten and label and threaten people who want change— and are willing to share information in order to bring dubious practices to light— is unfair and counterproductive to what everyone who cares about the Archdiocese wants— a viable Church in America.