“THOSE WHO THE GODS WISH TO DESTROY, FIRST THEY ELEVATE!”

By dogcatcher on February 14th, 2015

A PARAPHRASE OF EURIPIDES (484BC – 406BC)
[PART ONE]

Once again, in the Metropolis of Chicago, we are reminded that we are living during the breakdown of our once great and thriving Church. A dialogue so toxic and compelling erupted on the Facebook page of Chicago Tribune Reporter John Kass concerning Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos that it warranted an entire article, in fact, in two parts.

For those who may not know, John Kass of the Chicago Tribune is universally acknowledged by his peers as an outstanding reporter. His employer’s website describes him as: “The son of a Greek immigrant grocer, Kass was born June 23, 1956, on Chicago’s South Side and grew up there and in Oak Lawn. He held a number of jobs — merchant marine sailor, ditch digger, waiter — before becoming a film student at Columbia College in Chicago, where he worked at the student newspaper. He obtained an internship at the Daily Calumet in 1980, and ended up working there as a reporter until he left for the Tribune in 1983. He has won honors including the Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi National Award for general column writing, the Scripps Howard Foundation’s National Journalism Award for commentary, The Chicago Headline Club’s Lisagor Award for best daily newspaper columnist and the Chicago Tribune’s Beck Award for writing. He lives in the western suburbs with his wife and twin sons.”(citation omitted)

John Kass’s poignant posting on his Facebook page states: “embarrassment, shame. In Greek the word is “drohpi” I don’t know how to respond, except to remind church leaders of the tax collector and the Pharisee. The Pharisee was proud. The tax collector-knelt in the back of the church–and prayed, simply, “Lord have mercy upon me, a sinner.” What about the story have church leaders forgotten?
http://www.chicagotribune.com/suburbs/glenview/crime/ct-priest-theft-charge-bishop-met-20150206-story.html

He went on to post the following: “Chicago bishop warned against intimidating witness: A high-ranking Greek Orthodox bishop in Chicago was warned by a prosecutor against “potential efforts to intimidate witnesses” in a case involving a priest accused of stealing more than $100,000 from a Milwaukee church.”

Here is that story in its entirety:

“A high-ranking Greek Orthodox bishop in Chicago was warned by a prosecutor against “potential efforts to intimidate witnesses” in a case involving a priest accused of stealing more than $100,000 from a Milwaukee Church.
The warning came after another priest in Milwaukee told authorities that Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, the No. 2-ranking official in the Greek Orthodox faith in the Midwest, threatened in emails to remove him from his post if the church did not withdraw a theft complaint against the priest’s predecessor.

“We have received some extremely distressing news regarding potential efforts to intimidate witnesses,” a Milwaukee prosecutor wrote to an attorney for the Chicago church leadership last April, according to court documents. “… I believe that Bishop Demetrios needs to retain independent representation as quickly as practical.”

The emails were exchanged between the bishop and the Rev. Angelo Artemas of Annunciation Church in Milwaukee as prosecutors there were investigating theft claims against a former Annunciation priest, the Rev. James Dokos.

The emails indicated the bishop sought a meeting with Annunciation leaders to talk about the case against Dokos, who has since been charged with improperly spending money from a trust fund intended to benefit the church.

Members of Annunciation had taken their concerns about the trust fund to Milwaukee authorities after officials with the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago determined in an internal investigation that Dokos did nothing wrong.

Last March, Artemas wrote to Demetrios to say Annunciation’s parish council had declined to meet with him. “Due to your letter last August indicating Fr Dokos did nothing wrong, they are unanimous not to meet,” Artemas wrote in emails later entered into the court record.
Demetrios responded: “If that is the case, then in (sic) will ask His Eminence to release you from there ASAP and offer your services to the Archdiocese for placement. I’m sorry.”

When Artemas responded that he was not seeking to leave his position, the bishop wrote back that he would check with his superior, Metropolitan Iakovos. “However … no threats or harassment here, he is VERY open to your release from the Parish and Metropolis if this is not brought to closure before Holy Week.”

In a court filing, Milwaukee prosecutors said the emails led Artemas “to believe that he was going to be involuntarily removed from his parish unless he compelled Annunciation to withdraw the complaint.”

A metropolis statement denied any intimidation took place.
“The Metropolis never intimidated, threatened or harassed anyone,” the statement said. “The assignment of Parish Priests (is) an internal matter of the Church.”

Demetrios has not been accused of any criminal wrongdoing, and Artemas remains pastor at Annunciation. But the emails provided another indication of the tensions within the metropolis after Annunciation members took their concerns about Dokos to authorities,
By the time the criminal investigation was underway, Dokos had been transferred to Glenview’s Sts. Peter and Paul Church. When the parish council president there asked the metropolis to place Dokos on leave until the investigation concluded, the president received a sharp rebuke from Iakovos, who instead removed him as parish president.
Iakovos wrote that he was “astonished” by the Glenview parish council’s “inappropriate suspicion and deceitful maneuverings rather than the support of its own pastor in time of need.”

Dokos, 62, of Chicago, was later placed on leave after he was charged with felony theft last July. At a hearing this week, a judge declined to dismiss the charge, rejecting Dokos’ attorney’s argument that the case amounts to state interference in church affairs.

Annunciation’s parish council first raised concerns in 2013 about Dokos’ handling of the $1.2 million trust fund left by parishioner Margaret Franczak.

Dokos, who controlled the fund as Annunciation’s priest, paid the church $1.1 million from the fund after Franczak died in 2008. But prosecutors said he failed to tell church leaders about money left over.
“In all, (Dokos) retained more than $100,000 in trust monies that, contrary to the terms of the trust, he never turned over to the church,” court records state.

Dokos spent $5,000 on jewelry for his wife, gave monetary gifts to family members and paid credit card bills with trust fund money, prosecutors allege.

Metropolis officials have said their “initial conclusion” from their own review was that the trust fund money was spent properly, court records show.

Demetrios told investigators in 2013 that metropolis lawyers and accountants had reviewed the trust, according to court records. The bishop said he personally questioned Dokos about how the money was spent and was satisfied when Dokos told him the Annunciation council had approved the spending, the record states.

“Bishop Demetrios acknowledged that as part of his investigation he never spoke to any member of the Parish Council to confirm this,” the court record states. Annunciation officials have denied that they approved Dokos’ spending, court documents state.

Demetrios himself received at least $6,700 in checks written by Dokos from the fund, according to documents obtained last year by the Tribune.

A metropolis spokesman last year described those payments as gifts, which he said may be used for church or personal expenses and are “duly reported as income.”

Last May, Demetrios wrote a letter to Milwaukee prosecutor David Feiss, complaining that Annunciation leaders “have taken advantage of the ongoing investigation by your office to avoid their own responsibilities in the administration of the Parish.”

The letter, contained in court records, states: “They have wrongfully attacked the integrity of the Metropolis of Chicago or myself personally, knowing that any response is either construed as ‘tampering’ with an investigation or is actually prevented by our own protocols and regulations. In short, there is no doubt that the Parish has gone ‘rogue.'” This article was written by Lisa Black of the Chicago Tribune.

Well it did not take long (approximately 24 hours) until over 140 posts were posted on Mr. Kass’ FaceBook page on the subject. If you want to understand both perception and reality for Orthodox Christians in the Metropolis of Chicago all you need to do is read the following posts, edited for brevity:

Steve Johnson: “We are no better than anyone else. In the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, we are arrogant and self-referencing. We have an elitist class of despots with no real record of achievement aside from not being in a monogamous and heterosexual relationship. We are remarkably lax in any type of leadership and accountability when it comes to all manners of indiscretions. Our Hierarchs ignore. This is standard operating procedure. If we think we are better than the Catholics, we are fooling ourselves! Case in point: “Fr.” Adam Metropoulos. Removed from the Seminary for allegations of physical misconduct with minors, he managed to go back years later, get ordained, and then (as the Bangor News reported) continues to molest children. We as a Laity are somehow indoctrinated to be pacifist lay-downs to anything a Hierarch says. We are seduced into thinking that we should not judge. Let me tell you something, we need to judge actions. Let God judge souls, but we need to judge actions and hold those responsible for staining the Church accountable to the highest degree possible. If a police officer breaks the law, he/she is dealt a more severe penalty because he should have known better. The same, if not MORE, should be dealt to our Clergy, especially Hierarchs. Enough. Fr. Dokos, Bishop Demetrios, and numerous others, should all be held accountable “for everything” they do openly, and in secret. Clergy should stop hiding behind the collar as if it were character. It is not a substitute for character. As Laymen, we need to insist on higher records of achievement and standards from our Hierarchs, and ourselves. Step up to the plate. Don’t wimp out. Let’s clean up our house.”…“think that scandals might cause people to leave the Church, the Faith, and in some cases belief in God all together. But that is no reason not to deal with them. However, “how” we deal with them (I believe) will also affect the faith of people also. Sweeping under the rug is not dealing with it. I don’t judge the people, but actions must be accounted for. With God there is forgiveness, the law of the land does not negate God’s forgiveness, and in fact might force the perpetrators to re-evaluate themselves and lead toward repentance. Enforcing the law of the land might also mitigate criminal (or immoral) activity from happening again.” (One of our Editors has had several conversations with Mr. Johnson. He lives in California and is of the opinion that the Orthodox Church is destroying itself from within.)

Dan Mihalopoulos: “None of this surprising to most Greek Orthodox in Chicago. The way this despot, I mean – despoti (Greek for bishop) has treated priests and lay Orthodox Christians for years leaves little reason to sympathize with him. He is no different than a political boss and this priest who seeks to attack the messengers and civil authorities is nothing but a “komatoskylo” – a party hack trying to score points with his boss. His disgusting attacks on John remind me of the Catholics who attacked Catholic reporters for bringing attention to child molestation by their priests. Do not let him shake your faith John Kass.”…“Full disclosure: I am proud to call John Kass and his family my koumbari. As a journalist, I have full confidence in the work of my former colleague Lisa Black. And I am thankful for the many priests who serve us despite being mistreated by the hierarchs.” (Mr. Mihalopoulos is a former City Hall reporter for the Chicago Tribune. He has a keen understanding of the conditions that the Clergy in this Metropolis live under. He is a refugee from a Parish that has now clearly taken a turn into the Ephraimite camp. In this Metropolis we must leave the Parishes we have attended all our lives to avoid newly minted “spiritual sons of Ephraim”.)

Stacy Vasilatos Sennott: “Thank you John Kass. I’ve written the office of the Patriarch in Turkey with the (Archdiocese in NY copied) over this multiple times over the past 2 years, with the articles in the paper attached. No response…nothing. They are all aware of all of this…the threats, everything. When you can’t get protection from the superiors, I guess you have to go to the DA for protection. Makes me wonder why….is the fish rotten from the head down? I wonder and am tired of it too. If it wasn’t for some of the good priests I personally know (as you have experienced with beloved Fr. Bill) I would convert.”… “Tom Kanelos not sure what you mean…who is “spreading stuff around”?!?! The facts ARE OUT! Feel free to contact Lisa Black or the WI DA to see the proof in the response by the DA….they attached all of the emails from the Bishop himself. Anyone can see them.” (A member of the Parish Council of a Parish in the Metropolis of Chicago)

Louis G. Atsaves: “You know the Greek Orthodox Church has lost its way when it relies on proof beyond a reasonable doubt in a criminal court before it ever so reluctantly pretends to act to rectify the situation. How sad! The Chicago Metropolis needs a change of leadership and direction NOW!”…”No Tom Kanelos, the Church should investigate this matter and then take action, not wait for civil authorities. Where is the leadership role of our Hierarchs here in the Metropolis of Chicago? Other than cover up, transfer, threaten, and suspend and protect the wrongdoers? Have they no shame? The Church Hierarchy is presumed to know right from wrong far better than civil authorities, and clearly that is not the case here. This scandal has been in the public eye for far too long and Bishop Demetrios’ cover-ups are anything but pastoral. Metropolitan Iakovos’ role in suspending that Parish Council President is shameful. Defrock all involved in shaming our Church and put this behind us now. That includes a new Metropolitan and Bishop for Chicago and defrocking all priests like the one who posted here who are unable to remove the log from their eyes and see the simple moral truth that needs to be addressed. Absent are the words “I’m sorry” from them for their shameful actions. Clean house. NOW!” (Mr. Atsaves is a highly respected Attorney in the Metropolis of Chicago. He is the former Parish Council President of the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Parish which was at one time the largest Greek Orthodox Parish in America. He was a Parish Council Member for over 30 years as well as a member of the Parish choir. When an Ephraimite Agenda took hold of his Parish he chose to leave his beloved Parish rather than aid and abet a toxic cult operating within the Parish.)

Frank Bexes: “Enough is enough. He preys upon the Priests and churches of our beautiful metropolis and threatens them with reassignment if they do not conform. Out with the gaidouri. Time for you to go dimitri!!!!” (A High School Teacher in the Suburbs)

Angelo Kafkes: “He should John, but I doubt it. They run things so secretively…Father Angelo is the real hero by not backing down…With the new church charter the priest is 100% in control of the parish…he could of squashed it but then he would be in legal jeopardy…” He then adds: “If we took a poll the Bishop in question here would have a 5% approval rating.” (A Stock Broker/Financial Planner)

Andy Sotiropoulos: “I’m not sure why this is so surprising….stuff like this has been going on for years. This is the danger of the old Greek phrase as it relates to religion “pisteve kai mi erevnas”. That being said, I’m deeply saddened if these allegations are true. I grew up in the same church as Demetrios (Assumption), played church basketball with his younger brother, and our late fathers knew each other from the South Water Market. And I’m sure Mr. Kass, being a journalist, also knows who Demetrios’ sister is. However, if these allegations are true, all responsible parties should be held accountable and/or prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” (An Attorney in Chicago)

Zorica Petrovic: “Do these priest have no shame”

Sandra Efstathiou: “Throw the bishops in jail!!!!” … “The church needs a huge shake up and cleansing from our archbishop down! It’s a mess, people are leaving in droves. It’s very sad!” She then adds: “John Kass I hardly go either, because of this and other financial atrocities, dishonesties, etc. that I have experienced firsthand. There is nothing wrong with praying at home, in your car, wherever one might be!”

Diane Alexander White: “Not news in our church, these church leaders got caught. That is the difference.” (Well known and highly respected photographer with an international reputation)

Constantine J. Argiris: “This thread demonstrates the larger problem with the church. Fr. Bissias goes on the attack and calls this akin to “yellow journalism,” the church removed the parish President for saying Fr. Dokos should step aside until the investigation is completed. If the church had been transparent and open during this controversy and said “We are investigating this, here is how we are, these are the questions we are asking and this is what we will do if it is discovered money was embezzled” then I don’t think this would be headline news but to sweep it under the rug, pretend like it’s not happening and go on the attack against anyone who has concerns over the church’s handling of this only deepens the appearance of wrong doing.”

Dino Biz: “This guy does not deserve to be Bishop. As a member of our parish council of Holy Trinity of Chicago this so called Bishop disrespected a few council members in a parish council meeting, one being my 76 year old mother. He also threatened another council member at the same meeting by telling him he would call his employer which happens to be the Chicago Police Department and recommend he is fired for his outspoken stand on issues pertaining to the parish. He is an embarrassment to the Greek Orthodox faith.”

Tom Delis: “Thank you George Katsambas for posting that link. Those copies of the checks are hard to argue with. Especially when some have been made out to the Bishop himself. Fr. David, no one, including the Bishop, Fr. Dokos, myself, John Kass, etc. are without sin. But when good Orthodox Christians who have legitimate concerns about the shepherds who are to tend their flocks and are threatened when they voice their concerns, the whole thing has gone off the rails. A presumption of innocence is a legal construct, not a Christian construct. We might assume that someone is guilty when there is enough evidence to give pause. The CHRISTIAN thing is to forgive them for their misdeeds. But if the Church is to maintain its flock, forgive the bad shepherds but protect the flock and find better shepherds.”

Now we could go on with many more posts condemning the Bishop and the conditions here is this Metropolis. We feel that we should share some of the posts from “All the President’s Men”, that is, Bishop Demetrios’ apologists. For those too young to remember here is a short synopsis of what we mean: In 1974 a non-fiction book was written by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodard with that title. These men were “two of the journalists investigating the first Watergate break-in and ensuing scandal for The Washington Post. The book chronicles the investigative reporting of Woodward and Bernstein from Woodward’s initial report on the Watergate break-in through the resignations of H. R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, and the revelation of the Nixon tapes by Alexander Butterfield in 1973. It relates the events behind the major stories the duo wrote for the Post, naming some sources who had previously refused to be identified for their initial articles, notably Hugh Sloan. It also gives detailed accounts of Woodward’s secret meetings with his source Deep Throat whose identity was kept hidden for over 30 years. Gene Roberts, the former executive editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and former managing editor of The New York Times, has called the work of Woodward and Bernstein “maybe the single greatest reporting effort of all time.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_the_President%27s_Men

Basically when someone uses the term “All the President’s Men” they are not alluding to Woodward and Bernstein, but to men like Haldeman and Ehrlichman. These men went to great lengths to shield their boss, President Nixon. In a civil/criminal venue like Watergate, these men went to jail. In the Church we simply call them members of the “Metropolis Council.” You see here in Chicago we are fed obscured and absurd “dribble” to placate us. Here are some examples:

Tom Kanelos: “We as Greek are very quick to devour ourselves. We relish spreading this stuff around before all the facts are out. People use misbehavior (real or perceived) all the time to criticize the Church. Keep in mind the Church is bigger than us. Frankly I believe it is because we want the Church to be our cultural haven and preserver of our ancestral language and customs. What we need it to be is a place to help us work out our salvation. I’m neither condemning nor defending anyone involved, merely pointing out how quick we are to jump in and criticize, even when we do not have all the facts and even when many of us are not even regular Church attenders and supporters. If the Church is losing people (and it is) it is because of BOTH the laity and the clergy. (He is both a member of the Metropolis of Chicago and Archdiocesan Councils)

David Bissias: “While the correspondence reported took place months ago, it is odd that it is just now being reported to the public, and in all this time no charges or other “accusations” against Bishop Demetrios (and the caption even mentions it being a warning, not an accusation–and there is a difference both legally and morally). Fr. Artemas remains in place, though it seems he wanted to return to Glenvire (sic) [He means “Glenview”] according to bloggers from that parish. Funny, that someone as normally reasonable as John Kass would actually perpetuate what amounts to unproven allegations and sensationalistic grandstanding, something akin to yellow journalism, and draw conclusions before the facts are presented. So the “tropi”, or shame, probably lies with someone who knows better and yet, in the interest of selling newspapers, is willing to gossip without knowledge of the facts. Expected better from Kass, but in the end, getting attention trumps journalistic integrity. Not unusual today but…Shame” (He is a Greek Orthodox Parish Priest in Hammond Indiana).

There is really not much to say here. The above was authored by two people in the “inner circle” of the Metropolis of Chicago. Now you can gleam why the Ephraimite issues we have addressed in numerous articles on Gotruthreform.org have not been addressed by our Hierarchs. Is it any wonder why our Parishes are failing? Some people are upset because they expect the parishes to be cultural homes and not houses of worship. The accusations that Mr. Kass and the Chicago Tribune are guilty of “Yellow Journalism” are just DRIBBLE!!!!!!!!!!!

The goal of this enterprise and of most of the Editors is to try to get the Greek Orthodox Church, comprising both its clergy AND its parishioners, to see the dangers posed by the attitudes and almost criminal negligence to problems affecting the faithful and the local churches. The consequences of continuing to proceed as the Hierarchs have done to date is the end result of this week’s developments. For years, our Hierarchs have been continuously ignoring problems that are so huge they block out the light.

The arrogance of Bishop Demetrios in shuffling priests against their wishes between parishes in the Metropolis to suit his whims, in intimidating a whole parish, in threatening its priest with “banishment” by an unrequested transfer, in removing a parish president from an office to which he was duly elected by the parish council members, in trying to effectively cover-up the malfeasance of another and other similar disastrous decisions has created too much damage in this Metropolis. We will show you how the attitude of the Hierarchs is not something that will hurt later; it is already having devastating effects on our local churches. Here is the reality, let’s look at some of our local Parishes:

1. The Parish of Sts. Constantine and Helen of Palos Heights, IL. This parish has allegedly eaten though its endowment fund and has a reported deficit of over $300,000.00 for fiscal year of 2014. So serious is this problem that the Archdiocese sent Mr. George Matthews Co-Chairman of the GOA Stewardship Committee to help the Parish raise funds to avert a financial crisis of epic proportions.

2. On a good Sunday the Parish of St. Nicholas in Oak Lawn may have 40-50 people in attendance. A far cry from several years ago when it was healthy and relatively active. It appears to be dying a slow death. This parish is also having continuous and ongoing financial problems. There has even been open dialogue about tearing down the Community Center to lower operating expenses.

3. St. Demetrios of Libertyville is also having continuous and ongoing financial problems. The Parish is empty of young people and has a strong fundamentalist Ephraimite presence which has hijacked the parish and has damaged it possibly beyond repair.

4. The Parish of Holy Trinity in Chicago is also having continuous and ongoing financial problems. There is a genuine concern that a foreclosure lawsuit is imminent. One of the oldest Parishes in Chicago may soon be on the auction block. The Metropolis of Chicago allowed a Parish in the Northwest suburbs to open a parochial school in direct competition with their school, The Hellenic American Academy. There is now a multi-million dollar mortgage allegedly in default.

5. St. Demetrios of Chicago has seen its congregation wither away as proponents of Elder Ephraim’s message have taken hold of the Parish. When asked, some Parish Council members and our Hierarchs tell you “it is demographics, people are simply moving away”. This explanation is wrong and here is why. The one bright spot in this Metropolis is the St. George Parish in Chicago. St. George went through a “civil war” from approximately 2007 to 2014 over the issue of Elder Ephraim’s message being promulgated within the Parish by its former Priest who was assigned to St. George by Bishop Demetrios. During the Civil War, Parish Membership/Stewardship decreased from 326 families to about 80. On the brink of entering the point of “conflagration”, the former Priest asked to be transferred and a new Priest was assigned to St. George. In one year, this extremely competent and loving Priest has taken this Parish back from the edge of a cliff and now has raised membership/stewardship to about 300. Once again the Parish is on sound financial and spiritual footings. He has done so without any appreciable constituency from the neighborhood. St. George has now become one of the few safe-haven churches in Chicago that do not adhere to the fundamentalist radical movement emanating from the Ephraimite Monasteries. So when the “parrots” tell you it is demographics, they are just repeating ill-founded sound-bites which are part of a larger public relations plan to protect the Hierarchs of this Metropolis and the members of the Council who value their position more than their duty to this Metropolis. God forbid that someone in the Metropolis of Chicago give you an honest observation of the truth.

We could go on with so many other examples of Parishes in decline. One thing is abundantly clear. Those who are in charge of maintaining and protecting the inheritance of God are not up to this important task in the Metropolis of Chicago. A wise man once told me “A bad Priest can affect generations in a single family…but an inept Hierarch can have a negative impact on all his flock for many decades.” Someone needs to remind our Hierarchy that “all glory is fleeting, but true character endures”. Many members of our Faith have failed. They have accepted pandering in place of leadership. Is it too late for us?

Part Two of this article will discuss a Metropolis built on retarding the spiritual, theological and intellectual growth of its people.