A Popular Milwaukee Priest’s Tangled Web of Lies and Deceit Unravels; Tearing Apart a Community

By on May 6, 2015

A popular priest who claimed to have been bullied by his bosses and forced out of his parish in Milwaukee against his will stormed out of a parish council meeting on May 5 when he was confronted with emails that he had exchanged with superiors in Chicago, bringing to light a completely different picture. Parish council members who were present were stunned as they watched the events unfold in front of their eyes.

Fr. Angelo Artemas, priest at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Milwaukee went to the media— and even the district attorney, claiming the his superior, Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago wanted him to cover up a financial scandal by the previous priest, Fr. James Dokos.

If he didn’t comply, Artemas told The Chicago Tribune and the Greek newspaper The National Herald in New York, he would be removed from his duties.

The matter went viral in the Greek Orthodox Community in Chicago and supporters of Artemas went as far as flooding Archdiocesan headquarters in New York City, and the offices of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul with emails— even an online petition, that blasted Chicago’s ruling hierarchs with accusations of intimidation, bullying and the threat of relocation.

Artemas contacted assistant district attorney David Feiss of Milwaukee, with accusations against Demetrios, which led to an unofficial warning that he could be tampering with a witness. Artemas even provided an email that Demetrios had supposedly sent him. The news made the front page of the Chicago Tribune.

A string of emails released and obtained by the Greek News Network now show that the original email Artemas sent as his evidence was actually an incomplete email chain that left out important details, making Bishop Demetrios appear guilty of intimidation— when in fact, the complete email and string of correspondence proves that Artemas himself was asking for a reassignment all along and the Bishop was attempting to comply with his wishes all along.

In a stinging interview with Theodore Kalmoukos of the National Herald, Artemas laid out one allegation after another, which have all now been refuted as outright lies. The emails were released as correspondence at a parish council meeting at Annunciation the evening of May 5th.

The matter escalated and the parish council got involved— many of whom were Artemas supporters and themselves had waged attacks against Bishop Demetrios, after Artemas announced from the pulpit after Sunday services that he was being reassigned and that he didn’t know where he was going. He also sent text messages and emails to numerous parishioners informing them that his next assignment was unknown, leaving many to believe that indeed, his bosses were pushing him out out of punishment.

Emails and correspondence between Artemas from his personal email account to officials in Chicago, New York, Atlanta and San Francisco paint a completely different picture, one of a tangled web of lies and deceit which he wove, to discredit hierarchs in Chicago and deceive his supporters into believing he was the victim of unfair harassment.

Artemas himself— as far back as September of 2014, asked to be transferred voluntarily because he wasn’t making ends meet with his current compensation of more than $171,000 annually at Annunciation, and he needed a bigger parish that would give him a bigger salary. In an email to Bishop Adonios, chancellor at the Archdiocese in New York, Artemas requested a transfer to New York.

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He was offered a parish in the New York area, which he apparently refused because it was too small and the salary too low.

On January 27, 2015 Artemas again requested a transfer, complaining that his daily commute was too long and his parish was having a hard time making payroll. Artemas himself, requested permission to meet with Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta to seek out a new parish. Bishop Demetrios complied with his request and gave him permission to speak with the Atlanta Metropolis, according to an email the Greek News Network obtained.

Jan27email

On April 20, Artemas emailed Bishop Demetrios yet another request to be released from duties from his Milwaukee parish on June 30 and transferred to the Atlanta jurisdiction effective July 1. He emailed again, seven days later asking the bishop if his request for release was received.

Demetrios complied and on April 29th sent him an official release letter and transfer to the Atlanta Metropolis.

On May 1, Artemas sent an email to the church board members stating: “I received official notification yesterday that I am being released from the Metropolis of Chicago June 30, 2015. I do not have information on a future assignment…”

Yet, Artemas maintained, as recently as the evening of May 5th that he was being reassigned and he had no idea where he was going, leaving many supporters shocked that his superiors would treat a priest in such a way.

The issue came to a head at the Annunciation board meeting when Artemas appeared surprised and shocked that pages and pages of official correspondence were being read by the board secretary on May 5th, at one point even grabbing the pile of papers out of the board secretery’s hands and claiming that these emails could not be read because they could have been tampered with.

By this point, realizing that his web of deceit and lies was slowly being uncovered, Artemas protested and stormed out of the board meeting.

The fallout?

An online petition that was started with false information that duped hundreds of people who signed it— with Fr. Angelo Artemas’ name appearing first on the list, accusations against hierarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church by civil authorities based on falsified and incomplete information that was provided to them, the Chicago Tribune and the National Herald newspapers publishing stories that were ethically questionable— and a broken and divided community.

It remains to be seen if the district attorney will respond or if any charges of falsifying evidence could be brought against Artemas. It also remains to be seen if disciplinary action will be taken against him by superiors in Chicago, or on the Archdiocesan level in New York City.

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