Prodigal Son

Dear readers this Sunday our Orthodox Church celebrates the “Sunday of Orthodoxy”.  Here the triumph of the Orthodox faith is witnessed through upholding the veneration of icons within its life and worship. Those rejecting this teaching for falsehood (heresy) were anathematised (excommunicated, i.e. to wilfully cut oneself off from the communion of the Church). Historically on this Sunday the names of the heresiarchs (i.e. leaders of false teachings) were also recited so as to protect the faithful from their influence but also as an act of mercy towards the heresiarchs who upon being reminded of their status in the life of the Church were being encouraged and prayed for to repent and return to Her fold. With the same spirit of mercy and prayer for their reconciliation to the communion of the Orthodox Church please find below three of the most recent expressions of heresy within the life of the local Greek Orthodox Church in Adelaide. Their names are Athanasios Rigalos, Evangelos Despotithis and George Zisiathis. In accordance to the Liturgy of St. Basil which we celebrate during the Sundays of Lent we pray for “an end to the divisions of the Churches”. This is our heartfelt prayer, our comfort, our hope and the communion of love that we are all called to embrace. “Lord our God, give us Your peace, Your love.” Kali Sarakosti! Have a blessed Lent!

1.    Mr Athanasios Rigalos

Mr Athanasios Rigalos (whom we discussed in our previous blog entry and in greater detail here) was defrocked from the priesthood by the Greek Orthodox Church in Greece (“Church of Greece”) because by his own admission he conceded to acknowledge that he was a practicing homosexual. Subsequently he was dismissed as a public servant from the Hellenic Republic whereby his accreditation as a priest was revoked from the then “Ministry for Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs” (since June 2012 called “Ministry of Education, Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports”).  This meant that he was no longer receiving a wage from the Hellenic Republic as one of its public servants (priest) and the immediate cessation of all other entitlements that he previously had as a public servant. Of course Mr Rigalos on the grounds of innocence could have appropriated the judicial system of Greece and appealed this decision as others have successfully done so and overturned their verdicts. Instead he chose to align himself with one of the numerous and increasing Greek Old Calendarist factions of Greece, who dismissed him instantly when they were made aware of the reasons for his defrockment. It so happens that after the passing of 22 years from the time of Mr Rigalos’ defrockment he now works for the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia.

Mr Rigalos

2.    Mr Evangelos Despotithis   

Mr Evangelos Despotithis was a former parish priest on the Greek tourist island of Santorini. On the 12th of October 2010 he was defrocked from the Church of Greece and restored to the laity. Just like Mr Rigalos, Mr Despotithis also refrained from appropriating the judicial system of Greece to maintain his innocence.

Please read here Mr Despotithis’ defrockment notice which among other things includes the following as the reasons that led to his defrockment:

  • Attempted suicide
  • Abandoning his post as a priest
  • Abandoning his clerical garb
  • Abandoning his wife and young child

These four reasons are summarised below and are extrapolated in the defrockment notice which comes from the Greek Orthodox Church of Greece and is ratified by the State of Greece.

On the 8th of August, 2009 he took a kitchen knife and brandished it in self-harming ways with a view of taking out his life. After his first to our knowledge failed attempt at suicide he then went on to consume three boxes of Ponstan (mefanamic acid) capsules. Here too Mr Despotithis fortunately fell short of taking out his life. Upon reprimand, Mr Despotithis admitted to the Police authorities of Santorini that he did engage in the above self-harming actions. He further confessed before the Police authorities that he acted in such self-destructive ways as a result of being abandoned by a female companion that he was having an affair with. The appropriate medical and judicial departments of Greece have documented accounts of Mr Despotithis’ mental health condition and volatile disposition and subsequently have placed him on record.

After such traumatic episodes Mr Despotithis abandoned his wife and their adopted young child and went to Athens to find work outside of the priesthood. In this way he also abandoned his post as a parish priest in Santorini as also his clerical garb.

How is it that a gentlemen of the likes of Mr Despotithis whose chequered history is officially documented was invited to Adelaide to work for the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia? Certainly one finds the above alarming to say the least. The defrockment notice that is included in this post is accredited with police and medical testimonies and thus can be verified upon request. We leave it for one’s own discernment to examine how someone who acts in self-harming and life threatening ways and furthermore abandons his wife and young child can teach let alone proclaim the word of God. While we of course pray for his mental & spiritual healing that he may recover from the depths to which he has fallen, surely it would constitute an act of negligence of the most severe kind to expose Mr Despotithis to the pious faithful who make up our church congregations, both for the sake of the faithful and for the sake of the man himself?


Cover note for Mr Despotithis’ defrockment notice from the Church of Greece. Click to read the full document in PDF format.

3.    Mr George Zisiathis

It is imperative that one vigilantly looks into the character of Mr George Zisaithis. Six months ago Mr Zisiathis appeared in Adelaide and specifically among others to priests of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. Often he showed them photos of his former successful business (making grills and barbeques) which has since seen better days if not fallen into liquidation. All of a sudden Mr Zisiathis ceased all contact with these acquaintances and began wearing the priestly attire and associating with the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia. It is evident that he is grooming himself to work as a “priest” of GOCSA.