By Nick Stamatakis
Last night’s report of CBS “60 minutes” on Saint Nicholas, heavily promoted by the Archdiocese as a “must-watch” program, failed to present the real story behind the extravagant architectural costs, the budget overruns and the delays of building the Shrine. In the end, it left the audience with a bitter taste, which ironically captured (some of) the true meaning of their story: “If all goes well – and it rarely has – Saint Nicholas will be born again next year on the 20th anniversary of 9/11… A monument to death and life and unremitting faith”.
This closing statement was clearly referring to the new construction delays caused by the “China virus”… If the program producers wanted to be consistent with the framework of their production, focusing on “faith”, “spirituality”, “Mt .Athos”, etc. they could add that Saint Nicholas himself might have placed insurmountable obstacles to this monumental desecration of his memory, a memory of humility and selflessness.
Other than this bitterly appropriate end, here are some of the major missed points:
- There was a passing reference to the $82 million of total cost, but the budget overruns were attributed simply to the misappropriation of some $3.5 million for the general budget of the Archdiocese. The blame was saddled by the former Archbishop Demetrios and no other reference was made to others who share responsibility, from Fr. Karloutsos to the Patriarch himself.
- There was no mention of the ongoing investigation and the upcoming court date of the former finance director Jerry Demetriou: he was in charge of the day-to-day operations with regard to the Shrine construction project, he has recently been indicted for embezzlement and is awaiting trial. How is it possible to miss such a central fact?
- There was also no mention of the fact that the Shrine is 4,500 square feet and will cost over $23,000 per square foot; no mention of the fact that the Shrine construction project was bid out twice and both times it was awarded to the highest bidder; no questioning of the $6,300,000 in architectural fees – just “adoring” scenes of Santiago Calatrava in Mt.Athos talking about his inspiration… Finally, there was no questioning how does a half-completed 4,500 square foot building run up $1,700,000 in construction management fees…
- These failures by the production team of “60 minutes” are even more egregious because they had been thoroughly informed about the facts of the case. They just dropped the ball and abandoned their journalistic duty… Nothing surprising in the age of “fake news” from a mainstream media company…
Finally, there was no mention at all by name of AB Elpidophoros, who was simply referred to as “the new Archbishop”… This fact alone betrayed clearly that Fr. Karloutsos had his fingers all over the production and was guiding everything behind the scenes, as he has likely done numerous times in the past. Alas, he cannot fool anyone anymore… But why no mention of Elpidophoros? There is only one serious explanation: Fr. Karloutsos was showing “who is the boss”, once again… He was showing who is the real Archbishop… He reduced Elpidophoros to a puppet in the most public and demeaning way. In doing so, he did one more disservice to the Church, hopefully the last one…
April 13, 2020, firstname.lastname@example.org www.helleniscope.com
We hear you, but I am pleased that the program aired. So many more Americans now know of this debacle and the $82 M for a rather small edifice. However, it will be the Agia Sophia of the New World. I am upset to see Mr. Calatrava espousing reverence for Mount Athos and Byzantine iconography, when all he was interested was his pocket and ego. However, the glimpses of the iconography showed are spectacular, for they will create a hierophany like no other. Also, the indifference of the Port Authority on this Holy Site saddens me a lot. Secularism should not be confused with indifference to holy sites. So, let us wish for a quick recovery from the corona virus to all, an end of shelter-in, and wisdom to all involved to see this project completed.
A blessed Anastasi to all.