Michael Cantonis meets with Archbishop Demetrios
On Epiphany Day, January 6, 2000
Tarpon Springs, Florida
( January 11, 2000 )
January 11, 2000
MICHAEL G. CANTONIS
1650 Seabreeze Dr
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
MEETING WITH ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS
ON EPIPHANY DAY, JANUARY 6, 2000
between 5 and 6 pm at Innisbrook apartment
Tarpon Springs, Florida.
During the first few minutes of our meeting which he requested, His Eminence was telling me about how pleased he was with the reception that he received from the people and how he was impressed with the Epiphany celebration in Tarpon Springs.
My first comment to him was that he appeared to me as a very innocent person, almost like a Saint. But I could not understand how the Ecumenical Patriarchate sent a Saint to straighten up a jungle. He was very much surprised at my statement and I went on to explain to him that while the greatest majority of the Greek Orthodox people in the United States are very nice people, there is a small vocal group who creates all the problems and that includes the hierarchy of the Church. Many of these people are creating problems because of financial interests and others because they resent the fact that they lost their power within the Church and their ability to project themselves. His answer to that was, "Mr. Cantonis, you have a very deep knowledge of what is going on with Our Church." I added that he must be very careful as to whom he can trust.
Then he brought up the subject of my fax letter to him regarding Archbishop Spyridon's pension. He wanted to know details of where the securities I donated were and who is in control of those securities. I explained to him that Paine Weber is the firm and that Archbishop Spyridon is the trustee, exactly the same information that I had given him in my letter. I asked him why the Archdiocese does not implement the decision voted by the Archdiocesan Executive Committee regarding Spyridon's pension? He told me that that was a recommendation by the Executive Committee and I told him that was not a recommendation, it was a decision. Then he went on to tell me that there were ecclesiastical problems that had to be taken care of and wanted to know why Archbishop Spyridon was not going to the Patriarchate? He said, "They want him and they need him. He is a young man of great knowledge and ability and they need him very badly". I answered him as follows, "Your Eminence, since the Ecumenical Patriarchate had such high regard for His Eminence, why did they undermine him, harass him and make life so miserable for him and force him to retire? Since they appreciated those talents that you tell me about, they should have given him their support. I further told him that I cannot speak for Archbishop Spyridon, but if I were he, I would refuse to go there also. Why go there and go through more humiliation. Archbishop Spyridon is a man with ethics and pride. Archbishop Demetrios remained silent and surprised at my statement.
He said to me, "I know you are a strong friend of Spyridon, and I want to help him out. Someone asked me to stop sending him his monthly salary and I told him, "No, I will not stop it." I will continue to send his monthly salary check until his pension is granted."
The Archbishop also mentioned that the Archdiocesan Council might decide the case. I emphasized to him that the Archdiocesan Council never made any decisions regarding such a pension for any individual priest, bishop or archbishop in the past. When Archbishop Iakovos' pension was granted, nobody asked the Archdiocesan Council. He remained silent.
He also talked about the strained financial condition of the Archdiocese and that was another problem regarding Archbishop Spyridon's pension, but with my million-dollar fund, it will be easier to solve the problem. He appeared very concerned about the cost of the pension to the Archdiocese, but also seemed relieved because of the help that I was offering to make it easier. He assured me once more that Archbishop Spyridon would get his pension. Another argument he made was that Archbishop Spyridon worked only three years for the Archdiocese. I disagreed with him and told him that this was not correct and that it was legally and morally wrong, explaining that the Patriarchate claims that the Archdiocese is its largest eparchy. Eparchy in English means county. A county belongs to a state. The Patriarchate is the state and the Archdiocese is the county. If the state government transfers an official with almost 30 years service from the state office to a county office and the official retires 3 years later, does that mean that he is not entitled to a pension or a pension based on his last three years of service? His Eminence Spyridon was transferred by the Patriarchate. He did not ask for the transfer.
I was very frank with him, but with respect. The meeting ended very friendly. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios assured me once more that Archbishop Spryidon will get his pension and that he will continue to receive his monthly salary until he gets his pension.
Michael G. Cantonis
Copies to: Archbishop Spyridon