The following editorial appeared earlier today at The Orthodox World under a slightly different title, Exclusive Analysis: Should the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Accept Financial Support from the Greek Government?
This should sound a number of alarm bells for Orthodoxy in Dialogue’s readers, among them: first and foremost, if the Orthodox Church in the world’s wealthiest nation cannot support itself after more than two centuries of presence and growth on American soil, we are, proverbially, screwed; second, money from any government, let alone a foreign government, never comes without quid pro quo expectations of the recipient; third, the morality of the GOA’s acceptance of nearly $2.25 million from a government whose own people suffer from ongoing economic hardship; and fourth, when will the Orthodox Church in the United States finally become the Orthodox Church of and for the United States? (This last question is addressed no less to the OCA, which takes orders from Russia.)
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Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis visited the United States earlier this month. By most accounts his trip was a success. He met with the most senior officials in government including President Donald Trump. His trip showed the continued influence and reach of the Greek community in America.
The Prime Minister also attended and participated in a number of events of the Greek Diaspora, including religious celebrations. Most notably he joined His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros for the feast of Theophany in Tarpon Springs, Florida — a marquee Orthodox event each year.
Among the announcements made during the visit was news of annual funding support by the Greek government of two million Euros to the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in “support of its survival, programs, and advancement.” First reported by The National Herald, this story has received minimal coverage in the English Orthodox world.
It’s been a different story in Greece. Many articles and commentary have criticized the large amount of funding committed. Critics have compared the two million Euros to funding provided to various Greek universities who have a significantly higher student population.
In a time of continued financial hardship for the people of Greece, should the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America accept financial support from the Greek government?
The financial challenges of the Archdiocese are well known. The financial challenges and mismanagement of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology are also well known. By most accounts Archbishop Elpidophoros has done a tremendous job to stop the decline, increase morale, build confidence among the faithful, and begin to put a plan in place that will be financially sustainable over the long term.
So why the need to take money from the Greek people, who are still suffering from the economic crisis? Is the taking of this money a strategic misstep by the Archdiocese? At a time when the Orthodox faithful of Greece are facing challenges, maybe the right thing to do is thank Prime Minister Mitsotakis for the offer, but decline the grant, or better yet, use the money to help struggling families in Greece.