The GreekAmerican - July 7, 2000 Vol 15, No. 27
Lawsuit Filed Against Greek Archbishop
Executive Committee stands firm on resolutions
NEW YORK-. The 35th Biennial Clergy-Laity Congress officially
opened on Monday with Archbishop Demetrios' keynote address focusing
on timeless traditions of faith as worship, love, and truth at the
threshold of a new millennium. That same day, Harry J. Pappas, a
member of the executive committee, filed a seven-count New York
Supreme Court complaint against Demetrios for non-compliance of the
Archdiocesan Council's executive committee's duly adopted resolution
of June 15, 1999. The resolution called for "full
benefits" for former Archbishop Spyridon under a Bishops
Supplemental Retirement Plan and Clergy Pension Program.
"I feel saddened and I have shed silent tears over
this," Pappas told The GreekAmerican, referring to the
lawsuit. "There have only been two other occasions in the
context of my professional undertaking where there was a similar
level of irresponsibility on the part of human beings."
Pappas says this is an issue of fairness, equity, common sense
and goodness. He and other members of the executive committee insist
that the "operation of our Church be run according to the
charter and the regulations." In his complaint he charges that
the Demetrios effectively discharged the Trustees of the archdiocese
of their fiduciary responsibilities "under the Not-For-Profit
Corporation Law of the State of New York..."
The lawsuit requests, but is not limited to, the commencement of
"monthly payment of the benefits of $112,000 per annum" to
Spyridon. The question is how will the archdiocese respond to the
lawsuit. As of Thursday afternoon, there was no official statement
released from the archdiocese relating to this issue, according to
Presvytera Nikki Stephanopoulos, the archdiocese's press and
The lawsuit was preceded by a five-page letter from Pappas (dated
June 23) addressed to Demetrios and members of the Holy Synod
providing an overview of the issue at hand, which also served as an
incentive to effectuate a resolution.
"Unless the duly authorized Resolutions... are fully
implemented and all past due payments made by wire transfer of
immediately available funds to the account of His Eminence Spyridon
by 3 PM EST on June 27, 2000, I shall have no other option but to
file suit to compel the lawful action of the Archdiocese to
implement the Resolutions and to prevent certain parties from
frustrating and otherwise unlawfully interfering with the lawful,
fiduciary acts of its Trustees, their duly adopted and binding
Resolutions of June, 1999, August, 1999 and June 2000," wrote
Five days later (on June 28) Pappas sent a three-page letter to
the Patriarch indicating that the Patriarchal Fund (containing
approximately $200,000) "is woefully insufficient to fund an
$80,000 per annum benefit." In his letter, tagged with a June
29 (36-hour period deadline), Pappas requested, among others, an
"irrevocable permission" be granted in the form of a
Patriarchal Letter as an "official act" that would
"confirm, ratify, endorse, accept and attorn" to the
executive committee's adopted resolutions.
For more than six months, the ensuing debate between executive
committee members "acting as the Board of Trustees of the Greek
Orthodox Archdiocese of America" and Demetrios has not been
resolved. In that time, committee members have endeavored adamantly
to implement the resolution.
"I have filed this action as an exercise of my fiduciary
responsibility to the archdiocese. Each member of the executive
committee is derived from the Archdiocesan Council and takes an oath
to conduct oneself according the charter [of the archdiocese],"
The long awaited action to move ahead on the issue of Spyridon's
issue came in the form of a counteroffer in a letter addressed to
Demetrios (dated June 22) by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. The
Patriarchal letter calls for an "allowance" of $80,000 per
annum, retroactive from April 2000 where monies would be drawn from
a Patriarchal Fund held at the archdiocese.
On June 26, executive committee vice chairman, John Catsimatidis,
met with Demetrios to go over the details of Spyridon's pension.
"Are you giving this allowance as charity?" writes
Michael G. Cantonis, member of the executive committee, in a letter
(dated June 30) to Demetrios.
"An allowance is not a pension. A father gives allowances to
his children, and if for any reason he does not like something that
his children do, he can threaten his children to behave according to
his wishes, or cut off their allowances... If this offer is honest
and will last his lifetime without conditions, why not give him his
pension, especially when the executive committee has made provisions
for funding it without any cost to the archdiocese?"
In 1997, Cantonis, a major contributor to the archdiocese,
donated $170,000 with interest for the establishment of a
Patriarchal Fund (in conformance with tax-exempt rules) with the
condition that if a fund was not established by 1998,the monies
would be used for other archdiocesan means. That amount has reached
nearly $940,000 and has yet to be transferred to a Bishop's
Supplemental Retirement Plan.
"Our Church and our clergy have a difficult time accepting
oversight and the idea of open financial records to the laity,"
said Pappas. "I would like to see a warm, united effort for
enhancing the efforts of the archdiocese."
[ Orthodox Truth | www.orthodox-truth.bugs3.com/art_25.html - July 7, 2000 ]