The National Herald - June 17-18, 2000

Church Committee Tries to Force Spyridon Pension Issue


By Theodore Kalmoukos
Special to The National Herald

BOSTON. - Just two weeks before the opening ceremonies of the Philadelphia Clergy-Laity Congress, the outgoing executive committee of the Archdiocesan Council said that former Archbishop of America Spyridon is entitled to receive a pension of $145,000 dollars per year for his three years as Archbishop. The amount represents 80 percent of Spyridon's former salary.

The present executive committee was appointed by Spyridon and its tenure is due to expire in two weeks. The new membership will be selected at the Clergy-Laity Congress, and will be the first under Archbishop Demetrios, who refrained from making any early changes in order to avoid recriminations as he attempts to heal any divisions in the Church.

The executive committee reached its decision at a teleconference last Friday. It was decided that they would demand the Archdiocese begin making pension payments to Spyridon within seven days, in effect activating a similar decision they claim they reached last June. Spyridon resigned two months later, on August 19. Archbishop Demetrios refused to take part in the latest teleconference.

During the teleconference it was said that Spyridon, in order to resign, demanded from the Patriarchate that he remain former Archbishop of America and that he receive as pension 80 percent of his active archdiocesan salary, or approximately $12,000 per month for the rest of his life. The Patriarch and the Synod agreed, according to what was said at the teleconference.

But knowledgeable sources from the Patriarchate told The National Herald that no such agreement was reached. The same sources also said that Bartholomaios offered Spyridon two different salaried positions in Europe, but Spyridon declined them both. Finally, in August he was elected by the Synod Metropolitan of Chaldia. But, in a September letter to the Patriarch, Spyridon notified his superior that he is withdrawing from active ecclesiastical ministry, and is in a virtual ecclesiasiological limbo ever since. He remains in the U.S. and refuses to go to the Patriarchate to discuss his matter with the Patriarch and the Synod. Still, Spyridon is listed in the 2000 yearbook of the Patriarchate (page 837) as Metropolitan of Chaldia. In his biography it is stated that Spyridon "was elected on July 30th 1996 unanimously by the Holy and Sacred Synod Archbishop of America. Upon his resignation after three years from that throne, he was transferred to the Holy Metropolitanate of Chaldia."

Until two months ago, the Archdiocese, out of courtesy continued paying the 56-year-old Spyridon his regular salary. But since April payments were interrupted.

The Herald is in a position to know that Patriarch Bartholomaios has made several attempts to reach Spyridon via letters and through contacts with various persons, but Spyridon did not respond. According to Herald's reliable sources, Bartholomaios at some point wanted to defrock Spyridon, as he would do in any similar case, but he refrained due to Archbishop Demetrios' plea.

However sources said that they expect the situation will be cleared very soon, possibly within a week.

[ The National Herald  -  June 17-18, 2000 - p. 2 ]