A Call for True Financial Transparency in the Antiochian Archdiocese
An interview of Metropolitan PHILIP by the Very Reverend Archpriest Peter Gillquist recently appeared in the April 2009 issue of the WORD Magazine. (Read that interview here.) While the Metropolitan mentioned many things of interest in that interview, I would like to focus attention on one issue: his misrepresentation of financial transparency in the Antiochian Archdiocese.
Metropolitan PHILIP said that "you receive our financial report and you know how much we spend on theological education" (page 10).
No, Sayidna, I don't know how much you spend on theological education. I know how much YOU SAY you spent on theological education, but you have never allowed an independent external auditor to review the Archdiocese financial records. In fact, several years ago, when your Board of Trustees asked for an independent financial audit, you forcefully refused their request.
Metropolitan PHILIP claimed he "made (the Archdiocese's) books available to everyone in the archdiocese" (pg 10).
Really? I didn't hear about this. If I had, I would have made a trip to Englewood with my parishioner, who is a government financial auditor, and we would have reviewed all of the books. By the way, Sayidna, when did you make this change? As I said, the last I knew you refused the audit request of the Board of Trustees.
The Metropolitan continued: "We sent our financial report to every parish, every year, to every priest, to every archdiocesan trustee, let them see what is happening in the archdiocese" (pg 10).
Again, you are not letting us see what is happening in the Archdiocese; you are only letting us see what YOU SAY is happening in the Archdiocese. This is not necessarily the same thing as letting us see what is really happening with our money. And by the way, Sayidna, where is the balance sheet for our Archdiocese? It seems to have been left out of all the reports you sent to my parish...
The Metropolitan said that the "Church is living in the 21st Century" (pg. 9).
Sayidna, we are living in 21st century America. And in 21st century America, multi-million dollar organizations (including churches) are audited by external, independent auditors. In 21st century America, "charitable" accounts, like your account for "Food for Hungry People" are audited by external auditors. As we know from the recent OCA scandal, some hierarchs have been tempted to use charitable money of the laity donated for one purpose for other purposes and personal benefit. But how can we prove that you have not done so - if you don't allow the Archdiocese to be audited?
Sayidna, most of us are not as simple-minded as you seem to think. Most of us are smart enough to see through your rhetoric. No matter how many times you repeat your story of being financially transparent, it doesn't make the story true. Most of us are tired of your talk of financial transparency without offering any evidence thereof.
Sayidna, if you really want to be financially transparent, then open the books to an independent external auditor. You recently met with the new Metropolitan of the OCA: I'm sure he can recommend an auditor. If you really want us to believe your rhetoric about financial transparency in the Antiochian Archdiocese, then send us your next report with a letter of approval from an independent external auditor - one who has been selected not by you, but by the Board of Trustees.
A Priest of the Antiochian Archdiocese