A civil war amongst factions of Toronto’s Greek community has entered Canadian courts according to lawsuits made public.
The Greek Community of Toronto (GCT) has filed a shocking lawsuit against the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto, its Metropolitan and others affiliated with the Church, claiming they have engaged in various actions, including stealing donations that were raised for a sick baby, the appointment of known sex abusers to positions as clergy in parishes and the skimming of money that was raised for the poor.
The GCT owns four Greek Orthodox Churches in Toronto which technically fall under the Greek Orthodox Metropolis but are operated by the community.
The four churches — St. Demetrios, St. John the Baptist, Virgin Mary and St. Irene Chrisovalantou, are all served by the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto and receive their clergy from its head, Metropolitan Sotirios, who oversees some seventy parishes throughout Canada.
The Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto falls under the direct jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The lawsuit contends that the Metropolis installed known sex abusers, pedophiles and sex offenders in the four GCT churches and invited a defrocked bishop to conduct a religious celebration in 2016.
The suit also alleges the Metropolis and the priests that have been appointed by the Metropolitan are “unlawfully” dipping into hundreds of thousands of dollars raised by congregation members of the GCT parishes — from collection trays to payments for “priestly offerings” — and “misdirecting, dissipating and misappropriating” money earmarked for outreach programs for the disabled, widowed and orphaned, Sunday schools, food banks and physical upkeep of the churches.
The church councils of the four GCT parishes, comprised of lay people from each community, have no say in selecting their priests.
According to the lawsuit, the Metropolis has been demanding and collecting a share of the donations without disclosing the money to the GCT or the Canada Revenue Agency.
The suit also makes claims that priests appointed by the Metropolitan to GCT parishes were pocketing money for personal use and would “regularly verbally abuse and physically assault” members of the community.
The GCT also claims that the Metropolitan has targeted the four GCT parishes with a $40,000 annual “franchise fee” and $600 for every sacrament performed, including baptisms, funerals and weddings.
The allegations question whether the Metropolitan imposes these same fees on other parishes in the Metropolis.
It is important to note that none of the allegations have been proven in court and no statement of defense has yet been filed by the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto.
A secretary to the Metropolitan told The Pappas Post that she had nothing to say and said the Metropolitan, nor anyone else associated with the Metropolis would speak to the press since the matter was being handled by the courts.
But an attorney representing the Metropolitan stated in a CBC interview that the allegations were untrue. According to George Karayannides the allegations in the lawsuit are “wholly without merit and the claim will be zealously defended.”
The lawsuit also claims that in 2012, the family of a baby named Alexander Karanikas needed more than $100,000 to airlift him home to Canada from Greece for lifesaving heart surgery at Sick Kids Hospital.
The Greek Canadian community rallied and raised thousands of dollars after the fundraiser was announced by the Metropolitan. But most of the money never reached the child’s family, the lawsuit claims.
Instead, the Metropolis handed over less than $1,500 of the estimated $50,000 they raised. Furthermore, the Church never issued the charitable tax receipts required by Canadian law, according to the GCT’s claims.
“In misrepresenting the intended purpose of the subject fundraiser and the amount of the collected donations, from which they then personally benefitted, (they have) harmed and damaged the Greek Orthodox Churches’ reputation in Canada, in general, and GCT’s reputation in particular.”
The full copy of the lawsuit is here.
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Among the many things this article states, it says that the Greek Community of Toronto (GCT) “owns” 4 parishes? What does this mean and do other communities also own their respective parishes?
Fairly disturbed by the accusations. Usually the honest and good people needed by churches to volunteer the management are pushed out by the wrong ones that want social status. Specifically when it comes to public positions within the church operations. And those that seek social status for profit end up in church positions, usually the bad ones . Usually the ones that seek public status in churches are (not all people like that) the ones that steel, or embezzle funds, or use cohesion to obtain gifts or status. This is unacceptable. Totally unacceptable. They need rules to govern people ethics and values first.
Kind of ironic to what Christiantiy is stands for, and to what Jesus attempted help people move away from.
It doesn’t matter if you are a regular person, a poor or blind person or even the bishop or deacon. You are no different than the one next to you .
The other accusation, unspeakable is really disturbing.. actually really ironic that Greek Orthodox early saints were protecting people and one of the accusations above speak of harming others. I am really shocked.
sorry, but there needs a basic human morality check here.
Its about time…..
I always always refused to give these churches any money. Even brought my own candles so they never got a dime!
Now that’s wrong! Innocent until proven quilty
I believe the Greek Community of Toronto (GCT) needs to look into a mirror to see what it’s own community is seeing. I was just at a funeral service at St. John’s, one of the Churches that the GCT “owns”, and I was embarrassed to see the state of that Church. The ceiling in the entrance way is completely falling apart and other areas of this once beautiful Church are no better. This was a Church that was built with many generous donations from Greek families in the area. In addition to this, many of these donors donated their time and energy to it’s upkeep in the past, including my grandfather. What the community is seeing and hearing right now is a Priest that has been banished from his office on the main administrative floor of St. John’s to a basement closet. Priests that haven’t been paid and are working basically for free. In addition to this the GCT/Church of St. John’s has been running a fundraising effort to fix the Church bell but there are rumors that some of the funds raised for this specific endeavor have been used in other areas. This is not how you build trust in the community and frankly it seems that many in parish have lost faith in the GCT with weekly donations drastically dwindling, I’m sure their membership is doing the same. The GCT better wake up soon and start being transparent with the community, not just with the monies it is receiving and how they are used but also with all the actions that it’s taking because many of us have lost faith in it.
The GCT, pot calling the kettle black. Don’t forget, while pointing your finger at the Metropolis et al you have three fingers pointing back at you.
Shall we discuss the misappropriation of funds and creative accounting that GCT is accused of, allegedly.
Not paying the salaries of the priests for months, installing people at the four churches to make sure your cut is taken before the church takes their cut., allegedly. Not paying dues for months to the Metroplitan.
Personally, I stopped donating anything to the Church because of the GCTs involvement. Went to a few meetings with the GCT, I was disgusted with what I witnessed. Arrogant, bullish, double talkers.
GCT, your hands better be clean because there are people, past and present, who know what you’ve been up to.
Please don’t give up on our religion, this lawsuit and it’s allegations have nothing to do with our religion and what we believe in.