New York, NY – On Tuesday, August 11, His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros convened the Clergy of the entire Archdiocese in order to discuss the current status of the Archdiocese Pension Plan. The webinar lasted about three hours and over 350 members of the clergy attended, discussing with the Archbishop the Pension Plan which covers both the clergy and the lay employees of the Archdiocese.
The Pension Plan is funded by contributions from the Archdiocese, the Clergy and lay employees themselves, and the parishes. It is administered by the Archdiocese Benefits Committee (ABC), whose members are elected by the Clergy themselves through each Metropolis Syndesmos. The Pension Plan has been operating a deficit since 2001, and is now facing a deficit of such magnitude that it requires the attention that Archbishop Elpidophoros has been urging since his election and enthronement.
The pension plan is underfunded by over 50 million, according to what it was reported at the Boston Clergy Laity Congress, in August 2018. Although the lay employees of the Archdiocese pay approximately $700 monthly, according to a member of the Archdiocesan Council, the funds for the Clergy are paid by the parishes. For unknown reasons for over 15 years no money was paid by GOA.
In addition, priests are receiving in cash “tips” for performing weddings, baptisms and funerals. The vast majority keeps the money that most of the time is tax-free.
The issue tops the agenda of the upcoming Clergy Laity Congress, to be held in September via teleconference.
In his remarks to the Clergy, the Archbishop said:
“When I arrived a little over a year ago, I, like most of you, had little knowledge about the real facts of the impending crisis facing the Pension Plan. Since my ascension to the leadership of this Archdiocese, I have asked for, and consistently pushed for solutions for the Pension Plan to be vigorously pursued. As you, the clergy, assess your options, I promise that I will work with you to find the best way forward. … We may never know why the Plan slipped into its current condition, but one thing is abundantly clear, we have inherited a massive problem that must be addressed for the sake of all the clergy, those nearing retirement, and those a long way off.
“Therefore, my beloved brothers in the Lord, where do we go from here? As I said previously, we cannot change the facts. While our emotions may be very unsettled, they do not help us solve the larger problem. Our only choice is to move forward. And now we have to look at the realistic solutions to the problem that all of us have inherited. … We, the clergy, are the stakeholders of the Pension Plan, and the responsibility for the future of the Plan falls to all of us. I will do my part. I know that your Metropolitans will do their parts, as they are your spiritual fathers. At the same time, we will also need the parishes, and we will need every single priest of this Holy Archdiocese to be a part of the solution. There are many clergy that I have spoken to who know little detail of the Plan, and simply expect their benefits to be there when they retire. This approach can no longer be accepted by us, as clergy. We need to be active, and indeed responsible for the Plan and the decisions being made, for this is our future, and the future of our families. Passive participation can no longer be accepted, we must now, each and everyone of us, become educated and become a part of finding a solution.”
Read Archbishop’s introductory remarks: