Friday, July 6, 2018

44th Clergy Laity Congress budget process causes uproar

If the pieces I have seen on the Clergy-Laity budget talks are even half true, emotions are running high and things are not looking good. Voting a deficit on purpose (even as the men put in positions to fix the problem threaten to quit) seems a dangerous path.

(Greek News Online) - Plenary at the 44th Clergy Laity Congress approves a budget with $1 ml deficit – Priests has chosen their benefits over Archdiocese’s financial recovery and stability – Michael Psaros announced his resignation.

During the various discussions that took place at the 44th Clergy Laity Congress on the financial crisis of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, one thing that was proven beyond reasonable doubt was that for at least two past Congresses the delegates were passing fictional budgets that had no chance to ever be balanced; contributing thus to accumulating deficits that were covered by illegal transfers from restricted accounts.

The difference between those Congress and the 44th Clergy Laity Congress is that then, people were presented with false information and their vote was based in a wrong presumption. This year, the delegates voted on the budget consciously knowing that it is not balanced.

By doing that they ignored:
  • The warning by the Chancellor of the Archdiocese that he will resign, if the Congress will approve the suggestions by the financial committee to allocate $1,000,000 to the clergy pension fund each year and not to raise the budget by 3%,
  • the compromises reached between the executive committee and the Clergy organizations for half the amount
  • the dramatic plea by the Treasurer of the Executive Committee Michael Psaros, who spoke for about an hour explaining the work done by the committee and the importance of having a balanced budget. When he saw delegates voting on items that would lead to deficits, he announced that unless they change it, he will resign when his term ends in October. Archbishop Demetrios told him he won’t accept his resignation. One of the delegates that spoke after Psaros announcement said “if he resigns there will be another treasurer”.
In spite all this drama, the budget approved has a deficit of at least $934,000, from additional funding of the priests pension plan and the School of Theology. A face safe vote that passed authorizes the executive committee and the Archdiocesan Council to find ways to balance the budget. The next Archdiocesan Council meeting will be in October, most likely without the Treasurer Michael Psaros.

Prior the final vote, the plenary has decided to take off the budget the publication of the Orthodox Observer, under the presumption that by doing that $800,000 will be saved. The true amount is the savings will be $360,000 if the Observer shuts totally and 200,000 if it will continue the publication on line.

This and other proposals were recalled with the vote to authorize the executive committee to make the decisions. Few minutes earlier the Archbishop spoke on the need for the Archdiocese to have its own publication and he revealed that when last year they had to publish an issue of the Observer in order to allow its Archdiocese to present its views against attacks, there was strong resistance by some people he didn’t name.
Complete article here.

1 comment:

  1. Why should the clergy be penalized? Or be forced to take a cut in compensation to cover the budget shortfall?