By Nick Stamatakis
For over two decades the number one issue the faithful have been raising regarding reforming GOA is transparency and accountability and with good reason… No need to recount here the thousand faces of abdication of fiduciary responsibility (to use a more legal tongue) we have all been witnessing – which led our Church to bankruptcy a few years ago. In small issues and large, when it comes to handling money the Archdiocese seems to forget that it is a non-profit organization and it looks more like a lawless group in cowboy country…
So when, a few weeks ago, we heard AB Elpidophoros call for a Covid 10 Relief Fund we immediately raised questions about this new monetary operation: 1) Where did the $500.000 of matching funds come from? We are entitled to know. 2) Where and under which terms the donations will be distributed. 3) What other transparency measures will be established? We learned who will be in charge of the distribution (Bishop Apostolos of Medeias) but this fact alone raised even more concerns, as his past in Astoria and elsewhere was highly questionable, in handling financial and moral issues.
Are we justified to have doubts? Of course we are. Years ago a similar “Relief Fund” aiming to help those who had suffered from wild fires in Greece, dissipated into the Aegean mist… Hundreds of thousands of dollars vanquished and cannot be “accounted for”… The purpose of this note is not to scratch old wounds but to prevent new ones… How many more times does AB Elpidophoros need to hear the request for “transparency” and “accountability” before he takes action? Here is what needed to be done in a few words:
- Establishment of a separate bank account, where all deposits and withdrawals will be recorded.
- Establishment of a clear set of criteria for giving help to COVID-19 sufferers and a committee with volunteer members that are above reproach.
- Communication with the public, the faithful, every step of the way, and particularly with the results of fundraising.
- Special attention should be given to the administrative costs of the operation which should be a very low percentage of the funds raised. Every donor knows that “administrative costs” is the number one criterion of worthiness in donating money…
Above all this committee needed to use common sense every step of the way, having the ultimate goal in mind and the big prize: Earning the trust of the faithful. This goal is more valuable than any amount of money that will be collected.
If the goal is achieved there will be a chance to build a new future. But if the committee follows the same old path, it will put one more stone on the grave of the Church…