June 2000

[ Former Archbishop Spyridon is not of retirement age ]

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The following editorial concerning the pension of former Archbishop Spyridon appeared in the June 17-18, 2000 English edition of The National Herald. The facts in this case are clear:

1. Former Archbishop Spyridon is not of retirement age. He has been called to the Phanar repeatedly, yet refuses to appear before Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, who has offered Spyridon two positions that Spyridon has refused. As St. Paul says, "he who does not work, let him not eat as well". His refusal to work should make him ineligible to receive any pension at this time and his blatant disregard for the Mother Church should lead to his being defrocked.

2. Former Archbishop Spyridon served this Archdiocese for three years. If, at the age of retirement, former Archbishop Spyridon should receive any pension, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America should be responsible for paying a portion equivalent to his service (in quantity, not quality) to this Archdiocese. The Metropolitinate of Italy and the Phanar should be responsible for the rest.

3. According to the recent article published in The Greek American Archbishop Demetrios informed the members of the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council that the Archdiocese had "agreed to allocate $80,000 per annum towards Spyridon's pension. The committee, however, countered, that the proposed amount was not enough for a retired Archbishop to live with dignity". $80,000 a year is not enough for a monastic who should retire (when he reaches the age of retirement) to a monastery?

4. How scandalous for the Archdiocesan Council to make this issue the focus of their attention when the Archdiocese is in such poor financial condition. With so much work needed to build up the Church in America and parishes struggling to meet their financial obligation to the Archdiocese, is it just that this Archdiocese pay $112,000 annually to Spyridon? As the term of the current Archdiocesan Council draws to an end, is this the legacy that they wish to leave to the Church?

5. The article published in the recent Greek American leads one to question who is running this Archdiocese. The executive committee of the Archdiocesan Council convened a meeting in the absence of the Archbishop.

So much for their willingness to work with the Archbishop that they claimed at his enthronement. The appropriate action would have been for the members of the Archdiocesan Council appointed by former Archbishop Spyridon to resign and allow Archbishop Demetrios the opportunity to evaluate their worthiness to serve on such a council.

A Sorry Tale about Money

This business with the pension of former Archbishop of America and current Metropolitan-elect Spyridon of Chaldia is becoming an embarrassment for the Church. It will become more of an embarrassment if some members of the executive committee of the Archdiocesan Council have their way and the 56-year-old Spyridon receives a pension of $12,000 a month for life (starting now, not at age 65) after only three years of work at the Archdiocese. The members who are insisting on this compensation are all appointees of Spyridon and they are forcing the issue now because their term in office expires in a couple of weeks, at the Philadelphia Clergy-Laity Congress which is scheduled to open July 1.

As I have written in the past, I feel that Archbishops and former Archbishops ought to be afforded the opportunity to live a comfortable and dignified life. But Spyridon is simply too young and served the Archdiocese for too short an interval to become a ward of the faithful people of the American Church. Especially since his administration left the Archdiocese's coffers in a sorry state of emptiness. Moreover, Spyridon has turned down his appointment as Metropolitan of Chaldia as well as two employment assignments offered him by the Patriarchate.

What gives me pause, also, are troubling rumors that in order to get Spyridon to resign last August and open the way for the accession of Archbishop Demetrios, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios was forced to promise Spyridon that which he now demands: Eighty percent of his archdiocesan salary (i.e. $145,000) as pension for life.

Sources at the Patriarchate vehemently deny the existence of such a deal. Yet, Spyridon's supporters insist it does exist. But by insisting, Spyridon's friends are doing him no favor. Instead they reveal that in effect he had to be paid off in order to do his duty to the Church to which he has sworn his allegiance and his service. A sorry tale indeed!

At any rate, Archbishop Demetrios is clearly unwilling to go along with the executive committee's recommendation, and is backed in his determination by the entire Holy Eparchial Synod. The hierarchs know that a deal on Spyridon's terms will have huge reverberations in the ranks of the faithful.

[  -  June 2000 ]