The Directorate of Religious Affairs of the Kingdom of Sweden convenes an extraordinary crisis meeting in connection with an extensive journalistic investigation, published in four parts in the authoritative daily Gothenburg Post by a team of journalists and already quoted by several central Swedish publications, as well as newspapers and websites in Greece. USA and Switzerland.
The investigation reveals crimes committed by Greek Metropolitan Cleopas (Strongilis), who was appointed in 2014, with the title “of Sweden and all of Scandinavia” under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The metropolitan is accused of: misappropriation of church and state funds, money laundering, abuse of state subsidies for personal gain, forgery of signatures, tax evasion, abuse of power, abuse of subordinates and parishioners, psychological harassment of clergy and priests members of the parish council through threats and excommunication, physical altercation with a priest through fictitious persons, illegal overhaul of the cathedral in central Stockholm without a public procurement, through an illegal company with workers hired on the black, secret purchase with church money of luxury villa with pool for one million euros for personal use, but in the name of the diocese, and others.
In recent years, the metropolitan has single-handedly increased his salary to 10,000 euros a month, while parishes face bankruptcy and priests live in poverty, with reduced salaries. In seven years, at least six clergymen and more than ten full-time and volunteer employees have been fired and replaced. All Greek parishes in the country have been forced to transfer their parish capital to the account of the Metropolitan of Stockholm, bearing in the future the full burden of paying priestly expenses and covering running costs. For needs, people were forced to make “mandatory donations” in the range of 200-250 euros, also at the expense of the diocese. A temple in Gothenburg with its adjoining real estate was appropriated through a forged “deed of donation”.
The Metropolitan was sent by the Ecumenical Patriarchate to Sweden in 2014. Until then, he was a parish priest in New York and Boston to the Archdiocese of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the United States. His promotion to metropolitan for all of Sweden and Scandinavia was unexpected, after the former metropolitan of Stockholm, Pavel (Menevishoglu), was forcibly “retired” after forty years of faithful service to the Ecumenical Throne. He is still in good health, deeply devastated by his removal.
A Swedish journalistic investigation shows that as a priest in the United States, Mitr. Cleopas had no less scandalous past. After financial and tax crimes and manipulations, a lawsuit was filed against him, but the noisy affair was suppressed with the intervention and patronage of the then Greek archbishop in New York. His relocation to Scandinavia was to cover the scandal in America.
Gothenburg Post journalists have collected data from more than fifty sources in Sweden and the United States. Members of the diocesan and parish councils, as well as high-ranking politicians, businessmen and ordinary parishioners, eyewitnesses and victims, lawyers and even an American employee of one of the departments for combating organized crime and money laundering were interviewed. Facsimiles of forged documents and forged signatures were provided.
In addition to the Directorate of Religious Affairs, which distributes state subsidies to religious communities, Sweden’s Minister of Culture Amanda Lind has taken a personal view of these unprecedented revelations. also to the Swedish state, which has good faith and financial support for all legally registered religious communities in the country.
At the crisis meeting of the Directorate, a decision is expected to be made to refer a prosecutor on behalf of the state. An appeal has already been made to the Greek metropolitanate for the immediate return of 19,000 euros in aid. This is only a small part of the total amount of 200,000 euros that this diocese receives annually as a subsidy.