Laity Demand that Secret Letter From the Metropolis of Chicago be Unsealed

On the Orthodox Christian Laity website (which advocates transparency and accountability in the Orthodox Church), a member of the laity demands that the secret letter submitted by the Metropolis of Chicago during Dokos’ court proceedings be unsealed.

You can view the actual court document of the motion to file this letter under seal, HERE.

In this document, it states “Father Dokos has obtained a letter from Metropolitan Iakovos, the Hierarch of the Chicago Metropolis of the Greek Orthodox Church.  According to canon law, the Metropolitan is the final arbiter of disputes between a parish priest and a parish council concerning Church property.”

Yet here is a link to the letters from attorneys at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America stating quite the contrary.  You will see on Page 4 of this document, that Asst. District Attorney David Feiss writes that he has requested “written confirmation that the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has reviewed the filings made by Father Dokos” and rejects his contention that the dispute resolution provisions of the Greek Orthodox Church preclude litigation of this matter in criminal court.”

The link includes this written confirmation sent by officials and attorneys at the Archdiocese (Jerry Dimitriou, Emanuel Demos of blessed memory, and Catherine Walsh).

Deception and cover up.

 

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Fr. Dokos Pleads Guilty – Now What?

GOCCL.ORG Commentary:

This morning the Chicago Tribune reported on the plea hearing of Fr. James Dokos, who changed his plea today to “guilty” of theft charges. We have received reports of coverage by NBC and WGN 5:00 pm news as well.

As reported by those who attended the hearing, Fr. Dokos was smiling at times, gave barely audible one-word answers to the judge, and did not express remorse at any point.

In exchange for his guilty plea, Dokos was ordered to pay full restitution and 40 hours of community service.  If all goes well, his felony conviction will be reduced to a misdemeanor in one year.

We at GOCCL.ORG feel this is a mere slap on the wrist, and an indication of what money can buy, with a high-powered attorney in the world of white-collar crime. Many are asking where he was able to come up with such capital to hire one of the most successful defense attorneys in Milwaukee. We also wonder.

Now that this case has come to a close in the court system, our attention turns to our Greek Orthodox Church leaders:

  • What, if any, action will be taken by Church leaders, now that Dokos has admitted guilt?  Will he be defrocked or will he continue to fill in as a substitute priest and administer Sacraments in the Chicago area, as he has been with the permission of the Metropolis of Chicago?
  • Why did the Metropolis of Chicago come to the conclusion there was “no wrongdoing” after their investigation, yet civil authorities CHARGED Dokos with theft following their investigation?  How will Church leaders address the wrongful investigation by the Metropolis of Chicago that only later resulted in an admission of guilt by Dokos once it became a matter of the state?
  • Will the Hierarchy ignore the punitive actions taken by the Metropolis of Chicago (Chancellor Bishop Demetrios Kantzavelos and Metropolitan Iakovos) throughout their handling of this matter, especially considering the Chancellor Bishop Demetrios Kantzavelos received thousands of dollars from Dokos? (Whistleblower priest Fr. Artemas and Parish Council members endured pressure and punitive actions by the Metropolis that are all detailed in our Media Links section).
  • Will the Bishop/Chancellor be removed?  Will the Metropolitan retire?
  • And an especially troubling question:

Why is there a letter UNDER SEAL from the Metropolis of Chicago submitted to the court in October of 2014, arguing that it should be settled by the church internally? You can view references to this letter HERE.

Why is this letter not open to the public along with other public correspondence from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America?  Could it be because this letter contains erroneous information regarding Church regulations that the Metropolis does not want the public to know about?

These are all questions that the faithful deserve an answer from the Greek Orthodox Church leaders.

Will they respond, or will they remain silent as they have done thus far?

Voice your concern and contact the Archdiocese to act:

Archdiocese@goarch.org

BishopAndonios@goarch.org

AND IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY,

SIGN THE PETITION!

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Plea deal in works for Greek Orthodox priest charged with theft

Source: The Chicago Tribune

By reporter John Keilman

(Article posted below for non-subscribers.)

A Greek Orthodox priest charged with stealing more than $110,000 from a church trust fund has reached a tentative plea deal with prosecutors, authorities said Wednesday. The Rev. James Dokos, who lives in Chicago, is accused of taking the money from a $1.2 million fund he controlled at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Milwaukee and spending it on himself, family members and other church officials.

The Milwaukee County district attorney’s office charged Dokos with theft in 2014, two years after he had left Annunciation to become head of Sts. Peter and Paul Greek Orthodox Church in Glenview.

The suggested plea deal will be brought before a judge Feb. 22, a day before Dokos’ trial was due to start. Prosecutor David Robles said he could not discuss the deal’s particulars, and Dokos declined to comment. The priest’s attorneys did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The church placed Dokos on unpaid leave following the criminal charge. His lawyers last year unsuccessfully tried to argue that the case was a violation of religious freedom, casting it as a dispute over the use of church property.

The case has roiled the church on both sides of the state line. Leaders with the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago have said that Dokos used the funds properly and ousted a member of the Sts. Peter and Paul parish council who sought Dokos’ suspension.

Meanwhile, the priest who succeeded Dokos at Annunciation, the Rev. Angelo Artemas, said last year he was released from his duties at the Milwaukee church after arguing with church leaders over their handling of the inquiry.

 

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Metropolis of Chicago Refuses to Ratify Milwaukee Parish Council

And so it continues….

As so many Greek Orthodox parishes in the Metropolis of Chicago are struggling financially, the Annunciation parish in Milwaukee fears defaulting on their mortgage as every month goes by.  This parish can’t even think about the “Archdiocese Assessment” collected by the Metropolis of Chicago, until they can meet their basic needs as a parish each month.

As if the Dokos scandal, losing Fr. Artemas (and many good people of the parish), and the pending financial doom isn’t enough, Milwaukee parishioners received another harsh blow from the Metropolis of Chicago with the following parish announcement sent via the “Listserv”:

“UPDATE NOTE: Because our Parish Council elections have not been ratified by the Metropolis (for lack of payment for last year’s Archdiocese assessment), there will not be the swearing in PC members this Sunday Jan. 10 in Church as originally scheduled.”

GOCCL Commentary:

The editors here at GOCCL.org are experiencing quite a bit of deja vu, as this same scenario took place in January of 2014, when the Metropolis of Chicago refused to ratify the 2014 council at Annunciation parish, even months after they were caught up with their Archdiocese “tax”.

A few interesting things to note, when considering the aforementioned actions of the Metropolis of Chicago:

  • Fr. James Dokos who served at this parish, is awaiting trial at the end of this February for alleged Class G Felony Theft discovered by the Parish Council of the Annunciation Church in Milwaukee.
  • The Parish Council has, and continues to receive immense pressure from the Metropolis of Chicago, as well as their new parish priest, to exonerate Fr. Dokos of any wrongdoing related to the charges filed by the District Attorney of Wisconsin.

We at GOCCL do not believe it is a mere coincidence that the Metropolis of Chicago continues to take punitive and vindictive measures towards this parish and its Parish Council.  In fact, it is an expected reality here in our Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago.

THIS is what follows from our leadership after the great Feast of Theophany, the Feast of Lights, when we celebrate the manifestation of God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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“No Snitch” Code Alive and Well in the Greek Orthodox Church

Last week, a movie opened in theatres that critics say will receive a “Best Picture” nomination at this year’s Academy Awards:

“Spotlight” tells the true story of a 2002 Boston Globe investigative team that blew the cover off of the massive child sex abuse scandal kept secret by the Catholic church.

The trailer can be seen here, and features the following text:

“To break the story, they broke the silence.”

In the trailer, a reporter states he has two stories he must decide between…one about degenerate priests, or the other about the church lawyers who tried to block all information from being investigated. These same two stories are happening right now within the Greek Orthodox Church.

Commentary:

Over the years, one scandal after another has rocked the Greek Orthodox Church.

Recently at our sister site, GoTruthReform.org, a lay member details more scandals in the GOA that we have not touched on, and shares comments by the faithful, who have clearly lost all trust in the GOA.

These scandals have been brought to the Greek Orthodox Church Hierarchy in America by concerned laity and clergy. The response from the Greek Orthodox Church leaders has been the same as the Catholic church: denial and cover-up.

It took the media and courageous people, like those Boston Globe reporters, to pursue and expose the truth. When the truth was exposed, the Catholic Church finally acknowledged the wrongs, and released the information that had been held secret for so long.

And as the world watched this all unfold over the last decade, the Greek Orthodox Church leaders have learned nothing.

The “no snitch” code is alive and well in the Greek Orthodox Church.

The “no snitch” code is the same unwritten rule that helps violent street gangs thrive, and enables organized crime to operate smoothly.

This code appears to be the ‘modus operandi’ in the Greek Orthodox Church….from the ruling hierarchs, to the priests, to the majority of the laity, who would prefer to go to church and just “light my candle”.

We recognize and are grateful to the few brave clergy and lay people who spoke up instead of adhering to the “no snitch” code.

But what became of them?

Clergy:

The few clergy who have chosen to follow their moral code instead of the “no-snitch” code have been chastised or re-assigned to less desirable locations, despite their years of service and accomplishments. Those who overlook questionable behavior in the ranks are rewarded with prize parishes…even those fresh out of seminary.

Laity:

We know of countless numbers of Greek Orthodox lay individuals who have left the Greek Orthodox Church because they see no hope of change. These people were at one time devout, frequent worshippers and heavily involved volunteers in the ministries of the church. They have left. They are gone. Most of these individuals would only come back if they knew church leaders were committed to addressing the major ills, and hold those who are responsible accountable.

As believers in Christian principles, what have we become?

The Greek Orthodox Church has adopted the same “no snitch” culture being used by street gangs and organized crime, to protect their own!

We have seen the “no-snitch” code of conduct at every turn with the Fr. Dokos scandal, and most recently in the Fr. Passias scandal.

Chancellor Bishop Andonios of Phasiane, appears to be a big fan and enforcer of the “no snitch” code, as seen with his lax investigation of sexual impropriety at St. Spyridon in 2012, as well as complaints about Passias’ financial dealings at this parish, and at previous parishes he served. On top of that, when an audit revealed problems, what did Chancellor Bishop Andonios do? Deny and cover up!  Chancellor Bishop Andonios must, of course, protect his own!

What became of the ‘whistleblower’ who pleaded with church officials to intervene? He resigned – a good faithful servant who did what the Lord asks, yet the leaders turned their backs on him.

Like Bishop Andonios, The Metropolis of Chicago church leaders denied any wrongdoing with regard to Fr. Dokos, when incontrovertible evidence was brought to them. Was it because they were complicit?

What happened to the whistleblowers in the Dokos scandal?

After the Annunciation board members went to the authorities, they were criticized by Bishop Demetrios, who stated “the parish has gone rogue” according to the Chicago Tribune. Bishop Demetrios was further warned by the prosecutors in the Dokos case from further intimidating witnesses, the very Parish Board which had blown the whistle.

In addition, we heard countless members of the clergy criticize Fr. Artemas for having “turned on one of his own” in supporting the pursuit of an investigation.

We have heard from the very mouths of clergy members beholden to the Metropolis, that Fr. Artemas should have overlooked the situation given this was a fellow brother ordained in the faith.

There are undoubtedly many priests in the GOA who do not support this notion, but few if any, have spoken out against it. These priests fear retaliation in a “no snitch” culture so as to maintain their livelihood.

The above cases in point reflect situations we only know about through exposure in the media. Since these situations have been brought to light, we have been made aware of many more stories and information that have not been made public, given the fear of intimidation and consequences that will follow.

IN SUMMARY:

  • Good, moral lay leaders face intimidation or resign.
  • Good, moral clergy are intimidated and re-assigned to less desirable circumstances
  • Those who speak the truth are punished, and those who keep quiet are rewarded.
  • Hierarchal leaders ignore criminal activity, and passively allow false teachers to lead.

Are these truths reflective of a Christ-centered church, or are they more representative of the methods of a street gang or organized crime ring?

REFORM IS NEEDED NOW!!!

At this moment Chicago citizens, Christian and non-Christian alike, are demanding accountability from city officials who covered up and supported the “no-snitch” code to protect their own. As of Dec. 1st, 2015, the Chicago Chief of Police was fired because the citizens demanded accountability.

Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy Fired

As Orthodox Christians, why isn’t our laity demanding the same accountability from the church?

PUSH FOR ACCOUNTABILITY AND SIGN THE PETITION!

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Glenview Parish Stewardship Continues to Decline Since Removal of Fr. Dokos Over One Year Ago

At the most recent Parish Assembly meeting at the Saints Peter and Paul Church parish in Glenview, IL, the following graph of parish stewardship was distributed.

Glenview Stewardship Timeline

 

To aid the viewer, we have added notation in green to show the timing of when Fr. Artemas was replaced by Fr. Dokos upon request from the Metropolis. We have also noted when Fr. Dokos was finally suspended from the parish in 2014.

As the chart shows, stewardship has not only failed to increase to pre-Dokos levels, but has actually continued to decline, despite his suspension.

One can speculate endlessly as to why stewardship continues to decline. What is clear to us at GOCCL, is that the irrefutable steep decline since Fr. Artemas’ transfer is a direct result of the poor leadership of the Metropolis of Chicago, that remains in place to this day.

We believe that until something changes in the leadership at the Metropolis of Chicago, the sad reality is…. this parish may never see stewardship levels achieved before Dokos’ assignment at this parish.

Let it be known:

Critics of GOCCL have claimed our commitment to inform the public of the serious ills within the church will further drive away the faithful and cause further scandal.

GOCCL is committed to shedding light on the TRUTH. Sometimes, we may also decide to supplement the facts with our commentary and opinion as well. But what we have first and foremost provided, is information that has been reported in the media, court records from the District Attorney of Wisconsin, or information that can be substantiated via hyperlink to the actual document providing the information.

Jesus Christ is the Truth and the Light. Where there is Truth and Light, there is Christ. Where there is Christ, there is HOPE.

When the Truth is hidden, there is darkness and death. Hiding the truth is not the answer. We are dying as a church. The graph in this post shows a story being played out in many, many Greek Orthodox Churches across our nation.

Church leaders have made it painfully obvious that they are unwilling to acknowledge the serious problems plaguing the church, much less address them. Regardless of the leadership’s failure to act, it is unacceptable to be content “lighting our candle” on Sundays and “let God judge them” when the time comes, although this is the easier choice.

Yes, we have full faith in God’s judgement when the time comes. But that does not absolve us today of our responsibility as Christians to grow the church.   And we cannot grow the church, when we hide the truth. The truth will eventually come to light, resulting in distrust and lack of faith in our church leaders.

Irregardless of whether it is acknowledged or not by the hierarchy, GOCCL will continue to report on ills in the church, as they are revealed through reputable media and other reliable sources.

In short, we are not going away anytime soon.

 

COMING SOON – GOCCL COMMENTARY:  

 “No Snitch” Code is Alive and Well in the Greek Orthodox Church

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120525_, Fr. George Passias and Edith Bouzalas leaving St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Church, NY, NY, exclusivly for Sunday_JC Rice

Failure by Greek Orthodox Leaders To Take Bad Behavior Seriously, Blows Up Again With Latest Sex Scandal

It has made the rounds throughout the Greek community, and across the World…

The New York Post’s breaking news about Fr. Passias, a high ranking Greek Orthodox Priest in New York, who has been caught on video having an affair, and exposing his “cake sitting” porn fetish. The story has been picked up by the National Herald, GQ, and caused a media circus across the world.

You can read more commentary on this sad situation at www.OrthodoxReformer.com.

Our commentary?

The scandal and the ensuing media circus could have all been averted, had the leaders of the Greek Orthodox Church taken their duties seriously to address immoral behavior by those among their ranks. But they did the bare minimum when serious issues were raised two years ago in the New York Post, about the questionable behavior of this priest with regard to both his “spiritual goddaughter” and the financial dealings at the Church where he served.

According to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in New York, The Office of the Chancellor, headed by Bishop Andonias Paropoulos, is responsible for addressing such concerns. When the Bishop was asked why Church leaders did not address these concerns when they were reported in 2013, Bishop Andonias states “Lacking any concrete evidence of an affair, there was no responsible way the church could take any further action.”

Yet, we see that when such allegations are taken seriously, further action CAN be taken. Since Church officials chose to sweep such allegations under the rug, a concerned person hired a private investigator to obtain the “concrete evidence”.  The ensuing media circus resulted because Church leaders chose to ignore rather than investigate further.

The same familiar tune continues to play out here in the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago:

We have a Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos who claims his office reviewed the findings and concerns of alleged theft by Fr. James Dokos, and “found funds were not used improperly”. Milwaukee council members took the matter to the District Attorney, resulting in charges of Class G Felony Theft. Church officials ignore concerns that this Bishop preferred covering up wrongdoing, rather than address it.

Concerns and physical proof were brought to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese by an independent legal team that Fr. Angelo Artemas’ position was threatened by Bishop Demetrios over the Milwaukee parish pursuing theft charges against Fr. Dokos. Church officials do nothing. The District Attorney finally steps in issuing a warning to the Bishop for “potential efforts to intimidate witnesses”.

We have Metropolitan Iakovos who removed the President of a concerned Parish Council dealing with the decline of their parish, while their priest is being investigated for theft.

And our Church Leaders continue to do nothing to address the immoral actions of the hierarchs in this Metropolis.

It is clear time and again, that our Church leaders will not protect us. The faithful must turn to the civil authorities, private investigators and the media for exposure and protection.

All of the above played out in the media, because Church Leaders have preferred to cover-up and not deal with the truth. We are all disappointed that the Greek Orthodox Church’s dirty laundry has to be played out in the media.  We also know that the faithful have not been able to rely on our Greek Orthodox Church Leaders to uphold the moral code set for us by our Lord Jesus Christ.

For those who are upset that the Church has been scandalized in the media, the media is just doing their job.

Can we say the same of our Church leaders?

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