Orthodox Truth - June 28, 2000

Harry J. Pappas writes to Bartholomew

Last attempt to resolve the Archbishop Spyridon Pension Issue


June 28, 2000

All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew
Archbishop of Constantinople, The New Rome And Ecumenical Patriarch
Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Rum Patrikhanesi, 34220, Fener-Halic
Istanbul, Turkiye

Your Esteemed and Beloved All Holiness,

I pray that this letter finds you in good health, at peace and joyous at our greetings sent with love and goodwill.

Your letter of June 22, 2000 evidences your desire and instruction to assure that "His Eminence, (your) brother in Christ, Spyridon, who served as Archbishop of America from July 1996 until (mid) August 1999 be provided" the "allowance for life" of not more than "eighty thousand dollars ($80,000) per year." All Greek Orthodox Christians in the United States are relieved that you have taken this initial good step so that your fellow hierarch would not be forced to penury. Albeit a long overdue decision, coming as it does at the 11th hour, it is nonetheless genuinely welcome.

At last, any controversy initiated by the mean spirited or vengeful as to this eminent cleric's entitlement to the monetary means for economic security upon his retirement is settled by your well-intended authorization. However, with trepidation, I must inform you that those who have represented to you and the Ecumenical Synod that there exists "an account of which the Ecumenical Patriarchate is the beneficiary and which" the Archdiocese holds "at the Holy Archdiocese of America" have seriously misrepresented the facts.

You are entitled to know that Mr. Michael Jaharis informed me today during a telephone conference with Mr. John Catsimatidis, the Vice-Chairman of our Board of Trustees, that an account bearing a title of "Patriarchal Fund" holds (or will hold if its balance is restored) approximately $200,000. Clearly, the "income from (this) account" is woefully insufficient to fund an $80,000 per annum benefit. However, irrespective of the account's title, it is most elucidating that the donor of the funds to this account, Mr. Michael Cantonis, instructed at the time of delivery of the gift in 1997 that if a Patriarchal Endowment Fund, organized under US law as a fully qualified tax exempt organization, was not form "by the end of 1998," his gift was to be used for "another fund of the Archdiocese." It is settled law and a moral requirement that a donor's wishes at the time of gifting are controlling and "follow the money" thereafter.

You may also have been similarly misinformed as to certain stocks held in a trust account at Paine Webber likewise donated by Mr. Cantonis and the Cantonis Foundation. Here, too, as evidenced in the letter from Mr. Cantonis to His Eminence Dimitrios of June 9, 2000, Mr. Cantonis' "condition precedent to the utilization of these funds for such purposes" was not met by the end of 1998 and has still not been met. Mr. Michael G. Cantonis has this day expressly authorized me to state that his letter June 9, 2000 is controlling and that any representation made to you of any contrary fact is false. He also asked me to inform you that he expects full compliance with his written expressed donor's wishes.

It is highly improper that the good name of Your All Holiness and that of our Holy and Sacred Ecumenical Synod be put at such risk of debasement by those who color the facts to serve no good end. They have put you, our Esteemed Patriarch, in the untenable position of purporting to authorize the spending of money from accounts truly not existing for the satisfaction of your intent. Moreover, these persons have utterly failed to inform you of the legal, financial and moral jeopardy now extant to Your All Holiness and the underpinnings of the Patriarchate.

If His Eminence Dimitrios had relied on the advice and council which was readily available from the duly constituted Executive Committee and the Archdiocesan Council, this circumstance in which you now find yourself trapped could have been avoided.

Thus, I most respectfully suggest that if the serious adverse consequences are to be avoided and the spirit of your intent honored, that:

1. Your "irrevocable permission" be granted in the form of a Patriarchal Letter as an official act conforming to the Resolution of the Holy and Sacred Synod, and

2. That your Letter and the Synod's Resolution confirm, ratify, endorse, accept and attorn to the heretofore duly adopted Resolutions of June 15, 1999 and June 9, 2000 of the Executive Committee of the Archdiocesan Council. These and only these Resolutions lawfully conform to your letter of June 22, 2000, and,

3. That you commend this duly constituted Executive Committee and Mr. Cantonis and the Cantonis Foundation for having secured the funds to provide for the retirement pension of His Eminence Spyridon without taking any monies from the ordinary income or budget of the Holy Archdiocese of America, and,

4. That an acknowledgement be made that only this means, adopted by the Executive Committee after long and due deliberation, assures continuity of payment and economic security uninterrupted by mere personal whim or changing fortunes.

I do not seek any harm or embarrassment to Your Person or our Patriarchate. Thus, this letter will not be made public if your All Holiness can confirm to me by the written instruments above described sent to my private facsimile machine at (559) 734-1166 or (559) 636-5550 by Noon, Pacific Standard Time on Thursday, June 29th, 2000 the adoption of the foregoing. This nearly thirty six hour period should be more than sufficient to allow your confirmation of the facts herein recited, the convening of the Holy and Sacred Synod and the preparation of documents.

I pray most fervently for your reasoned and favorable undertakings to resolve all of the foregoing. A famous American, Henry Ford, said "Do not find fault, find the remedy." Please know that while I may be the bearer of unexpectedly harsh news, my love for our Holy Church, my sense of moral precept and Christian duly and my esteem for Your Office and Person are more controlling than my fear of your initial personal displeasure.

With genuine love and respect,
Harry J. Pappas
Archon Referendarios

Enclosures: Cantonis Letter of June 9, 2000 and Resolution of June 9, 2000.

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