Web of Deceit: Who do you Trust?


In an unprecedented moral low the Metropolis of Boston posted on their web site an open invitation for all to partake in their murderous character assassination of Fr. Nicholas Kastanas, a faithful servant of the Lord and beloved priest for over 30 years.

Serious matters involving Orthodox priests, seemingly 'obedient' to the various Metropolis's  Despots, and dealing with sexual abuse of children, stolen parish moneys to pay for mistresses,  pictures of priest's genitals shared with parishioners, and hot-tubs of naked priests with their deacons have been 'handled' for years silently and behind the scenes (or should we say behind the long black robes) of the responsible Orthodox hierarchs,  On the other hand, Fr. Nick has been put on public shameful display directed by a web kangaroo court where the jury-judge and executioner are one and the same, Metropolitan Methodios, Chancellor Barbas and their legal team.

The web page links to a nine page document of Frequently Asked Questions (of course never asked by anyone but staged to promote the Metropolis indictment of Fr. Nick ). Four pages deal with an 'Undisclosed Account' for the Homeless and Needy Fund, and five pages with the so called 'lawsuit' ( more correctly an injunction) brought to a civil court by Fr. Nick, and focusing on the recovery of Fr. Nick's personal computer before the Metropolis had a chance to tamper with it, or strip mine personal and privileged information.

After almost four months of Metropolis and Parish Council 'leadership' innuendos, behind the scenes rumors, and patronizing remarks that all will bow down to them once the 'truth comes to light', the legal team of the Metropolis has unveiled on the web its new accusation against Fr. Nick, 'financial improprieties' in the 'St. Athanasius Homeless and Needy Fund' account. The Metropolis of Boston seems to think that this new accusation will stick, where the original accusation of 'turmoil' failed to make believers out of the parishioners. This, for sure they must have thought, will bring peace and unity to the troubles of the St. Athanasius parish!

The idea they are trying to plant is deceitfully simple, and masterfully evil. At the same time it's a fantastic lie void of any real substance.

After spending our donation moneys, the highly-paid lawyers of the Metropolis construct a case against Fr. Nick for failing to obey the Uniform Parish Regulations (UPR) (FAQ, page 2), and  'financial improprieties' (FAQ, page 3). They find an excuse in a financial account closed for more than 3 years, with limited bank records, due to the original bank being acquired by another, and the account type (a passbook account) supporting only limited documentation and transaction types.

The account in question is an 'undisclosed' passbook account (under the name of 'St. Athanasius Homeless & Needy Fund')  'discovered' in 2014 by the Metropolis Finance Committee (MFC). The MFC wanted to audit this account, but they could not because the account was closed early in 2014.

Now mind you, the 'St. Athanasius Homeless and Needy Fund' was in existence for over twenty years with the blessing of the Parish Council (1993), and subsequent Parish Councils and audit committees, and thus not undisclosed. Yet, over this period of time (with multiple parish councils and audit committees) no council member, parishioner, or audit committee raised a single complaint or accusation of missing funds, or improper financial transactions for the Homeless and Needy Fund.

On the contrary, over the same time,  hundreds, of people have experienced the philanthropic, quiet and compassionate actions of Fr. Nick, financially, pastorally, and spiritually helping the homeless, the poor, the elderly, the sick, those that needed some hope and assistance in the darkness of despair.

Importantly, and key to this discussion, Fr. Nick has always felt that these activities (and most especially the people that were involved) are privileged, confessional, confidential, and should not be publicly disclosed (Massachusetts State Law Chapter 233, Section 20A regarding the priest-penitent confessional relationship supports this position!). That is the main reason Fr. Nick has kept details of transactions from this account  away from unnecessary scrutiny, including that of the parish council and the Metropolis. Many other priests do the same and it is likely that Fr. Nick simply followed established practice.

Nonetheless, in 2014 this account takes on a life of its own after an internal dispute of the St. Athanasius parish council (with some of the same players that presided over Fr. Nick's dismissal) with the parish Audit Committee. Perhaps in retaliation, and to take the focus of their own audit failings, the PC and the Metropolis collude to 1) chastise and ban the parish Audit Committee, 2) start a campaign (where the MFC spend considerable time and effort, by their own account, page 2) to audit the passbook account which was never a parish account right from its conception. The only signatory to this account was Fr. Nick. What this translates to, is that this was his personal account and nobody had the right to audit it any more than you or me would let the MFC or the parish council audit your personal accounts.

Facetiously, if not sarcastically speaking, it was perhaps  Fr. Nick's "extravagant vacation trips",  Mercedes Benz vehicles, multiple homes,  and rich-living lifestyle that raised suspicions about this so called 'undisclosed' account; (everyone in the Parish knew about this account and donated honorariums to Father Nick because they trusted him to disperse to those desperately in need) or the "huge amount of money" that it contained (a few thousand dollars each year!).  Fr. Nick had not taken vacation in 15 years or so, and drove an old beat-up Jeep, crisscrossing the state to visit people in need of his pastoral care. The account had a final balance of  about $1,000 when it was closed in the Fall of 2014.

Now, here are some basic facts about a passbook account and the reason it provides a certain level of discretion:
  1. With a Passbook savings account, you must visit your local back branch (with your passbook) for all deposits and withdrawals. 
  2. Transfers from a Passbook account are not permitted. 
  3. This account does not include statements, ATM card or Debit Card
Now the Metropolis takes some of these established rules of a passbook account and turns them into innuendos and accusations. Let's see how:

  1. The Metropolis accuses Fr. Kastanas of ignoring directives from the MFC to provide bank records (FAQ, page 2). Yet this account type does not include statements!
  2. The Metropolis insinuates suspicious financial activity (FAQ, page 3) stating that  'funds were converted into cash withdrawals' with no record of their uses or recipients. Yet, cash is the only way you can withdraw funds from a passbook savings

In final analysis the only question people would ask the Metropolis concerning the Homeless and Needy Fund is this: So what? We know the answer! The monies were used to help those most needy around us. People trusted (and still do) Father Nick. This is the reason those with reason and faith stand up, tear their clothes and cry out:

You hypocrites scribes and pharisees !! 

Why don't you ask the only real question? 

DO PEOPLE TRUST THE BOSTON METROPOLIS AND THE GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE?

If the Metropolis really wants to understand this question, we offer some advice for the MFC, and any other 'forensic auditing team' that you may spend the donations of faithful Orthodox stewards on: 
  1. Investigate the blatant violation of the UPR requiring the yearly audit of the St. Athanasius parish financials (which have not been performed since 2015!) 
  2. Stop smearing the name and reputation of one of the best and most beloved priests of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese
  3. Investigate the 20+ years of financial abuse by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese, that resulted in its bankruptcy this past fall. 
  4. Stop smearing the name of one of the most beloved professors of the Holy Cross Theological School?
The official reason provided for Fr. Nick's dismissal to the parish in July 2017 (turmoil in the community) gets a single sentence in this new web report. They state: "it was clear for some time that the St. Athanasius Parish was in a state of turmoil". What turmoil? The one created by members of the Parish Council by being less than transparent with the parishioners? If  the claim of the Metropolis that 'clear turmoil' existed in July 2017 was true, what would we call the current state of affairs at St. Athanasius? Chaos, anarchy, disaster?

And if Metropolitan Methodios was trying to bring unity and reconciliation in the best interest of the St. Athanasius parish in July by firing Fr. Nick, how much better is he doing now?

So, to all of those that anonymously published the Metropolis Q&A web report we give you some departing thoughts:
Don't take us for fools! We know what you are doing! 

We may be 'your flock' but we are not sheep. We are holding you responsible for the destruction of Orthodoxy in our communities, families and youth.  And then you may want to ask: How much more will our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ hold you to the same standard when you face Him?

Comments

  1. Thank you for making this information public.

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  2. What is your end-game here? You all have been asking for answers, you got them and now you do like them. Fine, but what is your end game? Fr. Nick does not & will not have a job as a Parish Priest - anywhere in the Greek Orthodox system, because of his actions. He decided to sue, & this he played himself into this position. Hopefully he could become part of the OCA or ROCOR. He will never be brought back. St, Athanasius will never be the same but it will continue, I wish he was still there, but he is not & he won't be back. Fr. Nick knows it, its just that he won't tell you that.

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    1. End game (if you think that this is a game, which I don't) is to stop the persecution of Fr. Nick by words and deeds by the Metropolis of Boston. You say that he will not have 'a job as a priest because of his actions' and again I disagree. He does not have a job because of the actions of M. Methodios, Barbas and select few parish council members. Finally, neither Fr. Nick not any of us have illusions as to the absolute power M. Methodios exercises in this situation. If the Metropolitan is a true Christian, he will demonstrate compassion, exercise self-reflection, forgiveness and repentance. If he is a leader, he will listen to the Orthodox faithful that pay his salary, maintain his parishes and may disagree with his decisions. If he is either of those two, he would hate to lose Fr. Nick to OCA or ROCOR. In the current climate and predicament he should be thinking resolving the situation as quickly as possible is a just manner, reinstating Fr. Nick, paying his salary, his health insurance, allowing him to teach again at Holy Cross, and trying to rebuild one of the biggest Greek Orthodox parishes in New England. I ask you now, what should the 'end game' be?

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  3. November 24, 2017 at 8:46 AM
    Dear Honestly,
    Had this situation been handled with honesty, truth and professionalism from the Inception it would not be as it is today. Again as written in the original letter Fr. Nick was being dismissed due to "turmoil" in the church, now the story has changed and they are stating that it is due to a homeless fund. Well which is it?!
    The lack of professionalism from the office of the Metropolis is most embarrassing for our entire Greek Orthodox Community as a whole. Why would the Metropolis choose to do something like this to a most beloved priest with such a large congregation while out of the country? He should have been here to face the backlash, answer the questions "truthfully" and be a true support system to community that was being blindsided. I know that father Nick would never be that cowardly. His actions were completely calculated, heartless with lack of empathy for this congregation. He does not represent the Greek Orthodox religion in a good light. None of this makes sense. Also why throw around "lawsuit" when its clearly not a "lawsuit" ? Give us a little more credit, we are smarter than you think. Get it straight get your facts together and stop embarrassing our community.
    How can these people sleep at night knowing that they have taken taken away Fr. Nicks true calling. Sad to know the Metropolis, a man (he is not God) with such power and authority can hurt so many to preserve his own ego. Just awful and disappointing!

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  5. Ioannis & Disappointed,
    Everyone knows, including the bishop, that we were in a position to buy the St. James Church & grow due to Fr. Nick. There is no question about it. But while Fr. Nick was an employee of St. Athanasius, his manager was the Bishop. The Bishop required Fr. Nick to do what all other parish priests do & include the needy fund as a line item in the great parish finances & subject it to an audit as the Parish as a whole was being audited. We can argue who did what & who should have done something different, but the end result was that the Bishop was pushed into making this decision. Again he knew the parish was a result of Fr. Nick, so the idea he did something rash, brash or with ill intent makes no sense because, he knew this would not be popular. Further, in any relationship, there are 2 sides (have you ever known a divorcee to admit that it's their fault?). And while Fr. Nick did have a chance to keep his employment within the diocese during the summer, he chose the nuclear option & got a lawyer. Fr. Nick lost ability his job with that choice (It’s actually an Archdiocese rule). Further all his supporters went from using social media & funding tools in a positive way, into a vicious cacophony. This is why Fr. Nick is in his situation.

    Ioannis, by definition, Fr. Nick does not have a job as a Parish Priest. He is not employed by anyone except for Hellenic College (Thank God he has that!). As for the Bishop being a good Christian, we have no idea how many times he tried to work with Fr. NIck - none, so to question his Christianity is arrogant at best and uninformed by definition - we do not know all the detail. Is there no possibility that the 'turmoil' was the best type of cover he could offer Fr. Nick? Do you know for a fact that he did not try different options? The idea that the Bishop chose to deprive his flock of Fr. Nick over the desires of 5 parish council members is a JOKE. Fr. Nick was the reason for our success - why would the preferences of 5 lay people be preferred? (Answer: IT DID NOT HAPPEN THAT WAY) We still do not know all the answers, but I do know that his supporters have no leverage – the bishop is not going to be insulted into changing his mind.

    Your faith is your faith, and your church should be your church, but if you cannot come back we will indeed miss you, you should however choose another.

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    1. Just to re-iterate. Fr. Nick has no job neither as a parish priest nor as professor at Hellenic College. See relevant article in the National Herald: https://tinyurl.com/frnickHolyCross

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  6. @Honestly

    The issue surrounding the homeless and needy fund comes down to this...

    Deposits that were put into that account were monies given directly to Fr Nick- IT WAS HIS MONEY- with the sole discretion to use as he saw fit/help those that needed a helping hand. Whether it was cash, a check that said Fr Nick, Homeless and Needy Fund, Saint Athanasius Homeless and needy Fund or St. Athanasius, those checks were given to Fr Nick to use as he eeemed necessary, they were not monies for the church to put into its operating accounts- end of story!

    Furthmore, the donors AND the recipients of that fund, were protected by Massachusetts law, for absolute anonymity. Thus, Fr Nick was put in the situation of whether to betray the trust of ALL those that donated or benefited from that fund AND break the civil law- or follow his directives of the hierarch.

    Unfortunately, the Metroplitian and his subservient Chancellor did not want to hear this, nor do they think they are accountable to anyone. Fr Nick was forced into to seek relief elsewhere.

    If and when this case goes into litigation... the court will determine this... Does the Metropolitan of the authority to direct his priest , even if his directive violates the civil law of the land.

    In the end, the Metropolitan will lose, Saint Athanasius will lose, and Fr Nick will lose- and for absolutely nothing. Fr. Nick, not anyone for that matter, deserves to be treated like this- and no matter what the Metropolis says or does, they will never be able to take away no attain the amount of love and respect that man has in the Greek community - that's what kills them the most!





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    1. I think your legal angle is very thin. There are so many lawyers that belong(ed) to the church, and that are supposedly his supporters, yet Fr, Nick went elsewhere? He found such a great lawyer, a lawyer who somehow has never heard of an employee being fired, locks being changed, and all their office possessions being boxed up & sent to them? Also, If it was really all Fr, Nick's money then why not use a bank account with his SSN? Did you know he used a deceased man's SSN on the account and not his? And lets say what you state is 100% true... its not the whole of the issue. Its not the money, its the accountability. EVERY other priest in NORTH AMERICA has a needy fund, but its open & transparent to all as part of the CHURCH's financial accounting.. As far as St. Athanasius goes, it will continue as far as it can with new priests. The next priest will be my 5th priest at St. Athanasius. Please join us!

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  7. More mudslinging and innuendos from HONESTLY. No where in the Metropolis Q and A does it say a deceased man's SSN was used on the account. The statement that it was Father Nick's money is also incorrect in that Father Nick contributed his own honorariums and received donations specifically designated by parishioners for the sole purpose of helping the homeless and needy. One of the many outreach initiatives established by Father Nick included the ministry named The Pine Street Inn Ministry which many parishioners supported strongly.

    And, to suggest that every one of the 500 plus churches in North America publicly discloses the individuals who receive assistance from these funds is grossly inaccurate and reckless. Disclosure of these privileged activities is a breach of confidentiality and in Massachusetts, a breach of the the Massachusetts General Laws protecting priest-penitent confessional relationships.

    Father Nick obtained independent counsel because most of the parishioners in the legal profession would probably have a conflict of interest in this matter. No professional with any integrity would consider such a case. Your unfair and inaccurate account of Father Nick's counsel's observations concerning Father Nick's dismissal display a lack of awareness of human resource guidelines dealing with personnel issues.

    HONESTLY, stop wallowing in your own misery and fabricating innuendos designed to destroy a good man and his family. You will never find satisfaction in any church or with any priest. Father Nick is the consummate professional - educated theologian - college professor, committed and empathetic priest, servant to 800 plus families, founder of tens of ministries including the recent forward-thinking PEACE ministry, schools and curriculum......the list goes on and on.

    In case you have not noticed, the St. Athanasius parish with its beloved spiritual leader, Father Nick, 800 families, ministries, schools has been destroyed. Any priest will not have much of a flock left to serve or ministries to nurture. There should be an open and honest discussion about the parish's problems and the root of those problems. No more pretending things are rosy and putting the blame on Father Nick. "#bringbackfathernick"

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