Mr Kanavas' invitation to Confession

Mr Kanavas’ invitation to Confession

Dear Greek Orthodox Christians of Adelaide, it has come to our attention that certain pseudo-priests are offering to hear confessions. We thought that it would be appropriate to issue a warning at this time: please be careful who you confess your sins to. There are two important things to look for: a priest who is experienced and trustworthy.

A Confessor must be experienced

The role of a priest who is hearing confessions is also to offer advice. Being in a position of offering advice requires life experience to go on. This is why in the Orthodox Church not every priest is normally allowed to hear confessions (except in cases of emergency) – for everyday confessions only certain priests (known as “confessors”) are authorised to hear them. In the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, priests aren’t normally approved for hearing confessions until they have some life experience. Most confessors are not made confessors until they are well into their 40s – a younger priest simply doesn’t have the life experience to draw on to be giving advice for delicate situations that can arise during Confession.

Who made Mr Kanavas a Confessor? Who gave him permission to hear confessions? What makes him think he has the necessary experience?

A Confessor should be trustworthy

The Mystery of Confession & Repentance is a sacred rite of the Orthodox Church in which we confess our darkest secrets to the priest. Obviously we need to be careful who we are confessing to because an unscrupulous priest might use this information against you. Even a well-meaning priest might use this information with seemingly noble intentions if they naively believe that they can help. However, this is forbidden in the Orthodox Church so that you may always know that you can confess your sins freely. This is called the “Seal of Confession”.

In the Orthodox Church, there are penalties for priests who break this “seal” – with the most severe of them being defrockment (which is the most severe punishment a priest can face apart from excommunication). These penalties stand as a reminder of the seriousness with which a priest ought to treat the Seal of Confession. This acts as a deterrent against breaking the seal of Confession for any reason.

However, what about a someone (such as Christodoulos, or Mr Kanavas) who has already been defrocked? What about someone who has already been defrocked twice? Clearly the threat of defrockment doesn’t seem to act as a deterrent for such a “priest”. How can they be trusted not to break the seal of Confession? What is left to deter them from doing so? What would their punishment be (indeed, what could it be)? To be defrocked?? Again??? Wouldn’t such a priest just laugh at this punishment (after all, that’s what they seem to have done in the past)?

How can you trust someone to guide you in the rules of the Orthodox Faith (as a Confessor is supposed to do), when they show such blatant disregard for them?

The Prodigal Son

The Prodigal Son

Choose your Confessor carefully

Brothers and sisters, your soul is precious and not to be dealt with carelessly. We encourage you all to access the Mystery of Confession, but please avoid entrusting your soul’s innermost secrets to someone with limited experience and a questionable background. The Archdiocese has four priests in Adelaide who are capable of speaking English (with varying degrees of fluency) who have been appointed to the role of Confessor:

  • Fr Diogenis Patsouris (St George, Thebarton)
  • Fr Stavros Psaromatis (Prophet Elias, Norwood)
  • Fr Nicholas Pavlou (St Anthony’s, Prospect)
  • Fr Panagiotis (Peter) Photakis (St Panteleimon, Glenelg North) (Note: Fr Peter has only recently been made a confessor and it seems that the Archdiocese’ website hasn’t been updated yet – it is incorrectly listing him as “no”.)

None of these priests has been defrocked (not even once!), and they have many years of experience as parish priests. They are all well qualified for the important role of Confessor. If you need a priest to hear your Confession then please feel free to approach one of them.