The Greek Community of Toronto (GCT) vs. Metropolitan Sotirios et. al. (Lauren Pelley, 2017)

NOTE: The following article is taken from CBC News. A pdf of the lawsuit can be found here. 

Sotirios Athanassoulas has been Metropolitan, or archbishop, of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto since 1996.

Sotirios Athanassoulas has been Metropolitan, or archbishop, of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto since 1996. (Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto website)

A civil lawsuit filed against some of the most powerful members of Canada’s Greek Orthodox community includes allegations of verbal and physical abuse by priests, money for a sick baby stolen from a church fundraiser, and sex offenders placed in Toronto churches — a controversy some say is part of an ongoing Greek “turf war.”

The board of directors for the Greek Community of Toronto (GCT), a non-profit charity representing more than 150,000 Greek Canadians, filed the lawsuit against the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto, its metropolitan — the Greek Orthodox equivalent of an archbishop — as well as four priests, several members of one priest’s family, and other individuals connected with the church community.

It’s the latest chapter in a complicated, years-long dispute between the GCT and the four Toronto churches it owns, which are staffed by priests appointed by the metropolis.

The GCT, which has roughly 6,000 paid members, has strived to ensure financial accountability and transparency surrounding donations made at those churches “with very little success” over three years of mediation efforts, said spokesperson Gina Tassopoulos.

“That’s led us to believe the funds are being misappropriated.”

In the statement of claim, the GCT alleges the Greek Orthodox Metropolis and Metropolitan Sotirios Athanassoulas have personally benefited from a share of church donations, without declaring the money “as a taxable benefit or income to the Canada Revenue Agency.”

Gina TassopoulosThe Greek Community of Toronto, which has roughly 6,000 paid members, believes church funds ‘are being misappropriated,’ says spokesperson Gina Tassopoulos. (Jon Castell/CBC News)

Allegations ‘wholly without merit,’ says lawyer

Also in the statement, filed on Oct. 18, the GCT alleges that thousands of dollars in money raised through a 2012 fundraiser for a baby with a serious heart condition may not have reached the child’s family. Donations totalled well over $50,000, the GCT alleges.

Fundraising efforts for Baby Alexander made headlines that year; the eight-month-old needed urgent transportation from Greece to Toronto for heart surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children.

The GCT alleges the metropolis announced that $10,000 was being sent to the charity Global Angel on behalf of the child’s family, without disclosing the “actual total amount of the collected donations.”

“In fact, Global Angel only received the paltry sum of $1,450,” continues the statement of claim, which alleges the metropolis “unlawfully and fraudulently” used the remaining portion of the donations for their personal benefit or the benefit of other charities.

But Gail Courneyea, founder of Global Angel, told CBC Toronto the charity’s records show it did indeed receive $10,000 from the Metropolis.

“I really don’t know where the numbers are coming from … We were surprised that was mentioned, that we didn’t get it,” she said.

church

The civil lawsuit’s statement of claim alleges a priest at St. Irene Chrisovalantou Greek Orthodox Church, just north of Danforth Avenue in the heart of Toronto’s Greek community, would regularly ‘verbally abuse and physically assault’ members of a women’s group at the church. (Jon Castell/CBC News)

 

The statement of claim also alleges a priest at St. Irene Chrisovalantou Greek Orthodox Church, just north of Danforth Avenue in the heart of the city’s Greek community, would regularly “verbally abuse and physically assault” members of a women’s group at the church. The GCT would not elaborate on the nature of the alleged abuse.

Along with St. Irene, the GCT owns the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Cathedral Church in Parkdale, St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church in Thorncliffe, and St. John the Baptist Greek Orthodox church in Scarborough.

Within some of the churches, the GCT alleges there is a “history of inappropriate conduct by priests negligently appointed by the Metropolitan or the Metropolis.”

In 2015, for instance, a priest at St. John helped place a Romanian Orthodox Priest, Ioan Pop, at the church, the statement of claim alleges. Athanassoulas knew that Pop “was a sex offender on bail, at that time,” it alleges.

George Karayannides, lawyer representing Athanassoulas and the metropolis, told CBC Toronto that both are aware of the lawsuit but have yet to file a statement of defence.

The allegations in the statement of claim are “wholly without merit and the claim will be zealously defended,” Karayannides said.

Terry Maropoulos, a staff member with the metropolis, told CBC Toronto that the organization won’t comment.

None of the allegations in the lawsuit have been proven in court.

Baby Alexander

In the statement of claim, the GCT alleges that thousands of dollars collected in a 2012 fundraiser for an infant with a serious heart condition may not have reached the family of Baby Alexander. (Global Angel website)

GCT, Metropolis tension goes back 40 years

“The GCT is simply seeking to uphold the recognized principles of transparency, accountability, responsibility and governance and to ensure compliance with the Charities Act, Canada Revenue Agency regulations and other laws and regulations of Canada,” reads a statement from the organization.

“This is a fair and reasonable expectation.”

George Gekas — a former president of the GCT who says he left the post within weeks — feels the situation is less clear cut.

He believes the lawsuit is part of an ongoing “turf war” between the community organization and the church, two interconnected groups both woven into the fabric of Greek Orthodox life.

“The relations between the [archbishop] and the Greek community of Toronto has been, at best, problematical at times,” he said, adding the religious organization often encroaches on the community organization, and vice versa.

Tassopoulos said issues between the GCT and the metropolis go back decades, and she hopes the lawsuit leads to a settlement and “some sort of peace.”

“It would put a lot of things to rest that have happened over the last 40 years, hopefully,” she said.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/greek-church-lawsuit-1.4448893

 

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Paisios Loulourgas, Metropolitan of Tyana and Vikentios Malamentenios, Bishop of Apameia (NY)

NOTE: Metropolitans Paisios and Vikentios and their monastery, St. Irene Chrysovalantou, were not part of Geronda Ephraim’s monasteries. However, after they were received into the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America—it is rumored that they paid the Patriarch a large sum of money for the privilege—the two started to visit St. Anthony’s Monastery periodically. When they visited St. Anthony’s Monastery, they would also give sermons in the main Katholikon after a service (even Vespers). The speeches were always the same: Zionists, Freemasons, New World Order, Jewish conspiracies of world domination and destroying Greece and the Orthodox Church. The same rhetoric they used in their newsletters. Interestingly, shortly after their re-ordinations in 1998, the two Metropolitans apologized to the Jewish community for their anti-Semitic publications (see below). Yet, throughout the 2000s, they preached the very things they apologized for in the main church at St. Anthony’s Monastery.

Orthodox Observer May 1998

The following article is taken from: http://stnektariosmonastery.tumblr.com/post/102741630916/paisios-loulourgas-metropolitan-of-tyana-and

AJC Welcomes Statement By Greek Orthodox Old Calendarist Church Repudiating Anti-Semitism

The American Jewish Committee welcomes the recent statement by leaders of the Greek Orthodox Stavropegial Church and Monastery of St. Irene Chrysovalantou which expresses regret for the use of anti-Semitic remarks and stereotypes in its Church body newspaper, The Voice of Orthodoxy.

The May 21st statement of Metropolitan Paisios, whose group is based in Astoria, New York, noted that in 1993 and 1994 “our publications did indeed reflect an unenlightened attitude toward Jews, perpetuating some anti-Semitic myths whose origins extend back to medieval times. We categorically deny these lies, and genuinely seek forgiveness for having communicated such un-Christian sentiments. We categorically reject all forms of anti-Semitism.”

Bishop Vikentios, another leader of the group also known as the Old Calendarist Church because it follows the Julian calendar instead of the Gregorian calendar, echoed the Metropolitan’s views. “We are saddened and deeply ashamed by these past statements regarding Jews. We not only repent these statements,” the Bishop said, “but understand the true nature of our relationship to Jews and to people of other faiths.” He further acknowledged that his Church body has expressed views about Jews and Judaism “which we now know to be false.”

Commenting on these statements, Rabbi A. James Rudin, National Interreligious Affairs Director of the American Jewish Committee, said: “The expressions of regret on the part of Metropolitan Paisios and Bishop Vikentios represent a necessary first step in purging their group of the ugly pathology of religious anti-Semitism.

“What is needed now, after public repentance, is to translate the message of these statements into the daily spiritual life of the Old Calendarist Church and all its members. This is especially true in areas of preaching and teaching on the local level. Such statements issued by church leaders, welcome as they are, must always be followed by concrete actions and full implementation in all aspects of church life.”

Rabbi Rudin added: “The American Jewish Committee recalls with deep appreciation the powerful words spoken last October at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, by the Ecumenical Patriarch, Bartholomew I, when he repudiated anti-Semitism and called the Holocaust an ‘icon of evil.’”

An AJC Leadership Delegation met with the Ecumenical Patriarch in Istanbul last February.

Rabbi Rudin concluded: “The AJC also appreciates the vital efforts of Archbishop Spyridon, the Primate and spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church of America, to build mutual respect and understanding between our two faith communities. For its part, the AJC looks forward to continued cooperation with the Greek Orthodox Church in the future.”

http://www.charitywire.com/charity11/00401.html 

The Sts. Anargyroi, Taxiarchis and Gerasimos Greek Orthodox  Church procession led by BishopVikentios of Apameia.
The Sts. Anargyroi, Taxiarchis and Gerasimos Greek Orthodox
Church procession led by BishopVikentios of Apameia.

Below is a brief, albeit incomplete, chronology of the “feats” of these two Metropolitans:

April 23, 1998: Archbishop Spyridon officially receives Metropolitan Paisios and Bishop Vikentios https://web.archive.org/web/20100613060136/http://goarch.org/news/goa.news617

May 4, 1998: One Calendar or Another, Greek Orthodox Heal Rift http://www.nytimes.com/1998/05/04/nyregion/one-calendar-or-another-greek-orthodox-heal-rift.html

October 11, 2010: Was Metropolitan Paisios’ Resignation from St. Irene Monastery Forced? http://elgreca262.blogspot.ca/2010/10/was-metropolitan-paisios-resignation.html

October 28, 2010: Metropolitan Paisios of Tyana Said to Be Under Investigation by FBI and Local Police http://www.jlaforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=57116189

Oct 30, 2010: Metropolitan Paisios of Tyana Said to Be Under Investigation http://nftu.net/metropolitan-paisios-of-tyana-said-to-be-under-investigation/

November 5, 2010: New York monastery scandal hits Greek Church http://byztex.blogspot.ca/2010/11/monastery-scandal-hits-greek.html

Nov 5, 2010: Metropolitans Paisos and Vikentios on Trial http://nftu.net/metropolitans-paisos-and-vikentios-on-trial/

November 7, 2010: Patriarchate Sends an Hexarchy to Chrysovalantou Monastery http://www.greeknewsonline.com/patriarchate-sends-an-hexarchy-to-chrysovalantou-monastery/

November 8, 2010: Astoria Nun Alleges Sexual Harassment, Hands Over $500,000 http://usa.greekreporter.com/2010/11/08/greek-nun-makes-sexual-harassment-allegations-hands-500000-to-the-police/

November 9, 2010: Met. Nikita Leads Investigation: Fox Guarding the Henhouse? http://www.monomakhos.com/met-nikita-leads-investigation-fox-guarding-the-henhouse/

December 2, 2010: Fanar accepts resignations of Paisios and Vikentios, appoints acting abbot http://www.greeknewsonline.com/fanar-accepts-resignations-of-paisios-and-vikentios-appoints-acting-abbot/

December 19, 2010: Bp. Vikentios accuses Bp. Paisios of perversion (Are they even real Bishops?) http://www.monomakhos.com/bp-vikentios-accuses-bp-paisios-of-perversion-are-they-even-real-bishops/

tumblr_nex1grzjy91tjvll5o1_400

December 21, 2010: Accusations fly after New York monastery scandal breaks http://byztex.blogspot.ca/2010/12/accusations-fly-after-new-york.html

January 1, 2011: Patriarch Bartholomew Gets Letter of Complaint on Paisios Conduct http://christianchildabuse.blogspot.ca/2011/01/law-firms-letter.html

January 5, 2011: Patriarch Bartholomew to Bishop Vikentios: Leave the U.S. Now http://www.monomakhos.com/patriarch-bartholomew-to-bishop-vikentios-leave-the-u-s-now/

January 13, 2011: Nun Charges Paisios Abused Her Daughter http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2011/01_02/2011_01_13_Kalmoukos_NunCharges.htm

January 30, 2011: Paisios, Vikentios Out, New Trustees in, Legal Battles Loom – Updated http://www.monomakhos.com/paisios-vikentios-out-new-trustees-in-legal-battles-loom-updated/

February 23, 2012: Paisios and Vikentios are Summoned to the Ecumenical Patriarchate – New Abbot Elected http://www.jlaforums.com/viewtopic.php?t=129769707

March 22, 2012: Met. Paisios’ Accuser Tells TNH His Story http://www.monomakhos.com/predators-in-our-midst-2/

March 29, 2012: Patriarchate Has Defrocked Paisios and Vikentios http://www.pokrov.org/patriarchate-has-defrocked-paisios-and-vikentios/

The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate unanimously defrocked Metropolitan Paisios of Tyana and Bishop Vikenios of Apameia from the priesthood, relegating them to mere monastics.
The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate unanimously defrocked Metropolitan Paisios of Tyana and Bishop Vikenios of Apameia from the priesthood, relegating them to mere monastics.