May 2013


It seems that Mr Kanavas is now even attracting the attention of the TV news. On last night’s ABC news there was a brief piece about the developing scandal we mentioned in our last blog entry. You can see the clip here on the ABC web site.

Most of it we had already heard and commented on in the previous blog entry, but there were a couple of interesting additional pieces of information:

  • Federal Senator Simon Birmingham suggested that the amount that St Nicholas received was “way out of whack” with the average grant under the noise alleviation program, and also comes a lot later when the program was supposed to be finalised. He plans to investigate the matter further in the Senate Estimates Committee.
  • There was a clip from Federal Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Anthony Albanese who was defending the decision by comparing it to a grant of $5.7 million received by St George College. However, in line with what Senator Birmingham said, on the surface of it St Nicholas is quite a bit smaller than St George College and hence (one would assume) wouldn’t need as much money. We reserve judgement for now and suppose that we’ll find out more on this matter if Senator Birmingham goes ahead with his promise to investigate at Senate Estimates.
  • Most interestingly, there was again confirmation that the complaints made to police had come from within the St Nicholas community. This time however they gave the additional information that the complaints were concerning “financial matters“.

We suppose that we’ll just sit and watch this unfold, continue to pray for unity, and also to pray that the good people of St Nicholas (of which we are sure there are many) aren’t hurt too much in what is to come. What we fear most is that the good name of “Orthodox Church” is being sullied by association with those who are illegitimately claiming to be Orthodox, and that many (both at St Nicholas and those outside the Church) will be turned off of the Church altogether as a result. We pray that instead of rejecting the Church altogether people will instead simply reject the false Church and insist that they get properly ordained & authorised priests who are in communion with the world-wide body of the Orthodox Church.

We also encourage anyone at St Nicholas who might have knowledge of the “financial matters” that they are talking about to not be afraid to speak up and bring it to the attention of police so that the matter can be thoroughly investigated and appropriate actions taken to protect those who may have been hurt by financial impropriety.

The politics of the recent budget have again put St Nicholas Greek “Orthodox” Church, Thebarton under the spotlight, due to the $5 million grant that they were awarded for sound-proofing their building. This time the spotlight is nation-wide and not just in Adelaide.

For our part, we don’t really have a problem with St Nicholas receiving such funding in principle. The money that is being spent on noise reduction was collected by a special levy placed on airports for that purpose (see the Aircraft Noise Levy Act 1995), and so this seems like an appropriate use of such funds. Many private houses and public buildings under the flight path have received Federal funding under this scheme (including a few other churches in the area – among them St George Greek Orthodox Church, Thebarton). If St Nicholas is under the flight path they certainly deserve to get their fair share of the levy as other churches have. One may quibble about whether the amount of money being spent is reasonable compared with what other churches received (and it does seem a bit high, given that St George apparently received only $3.4 million according to this article from the ABC), but we’ll leave that to the accountants and engineers to figure out for certain.

Of more interest to us is the fact that since the parish of St Nicholas has returned to the spotlight, so has their so-called “priest”, Mr Panagiotis (aka Prokopios) Kanavas, whose litany of unethical behaviour is again being subjected to scrutiny.

Adelaide Now has run a story on him which can be found here. The Australian’s Michael Owen has also run an independent story on him here. Both stories list most of the scandals that he has been involved in over the last couple of years since he arrived in Australia, which we have detailed previously on this blog. However, what is new in these articles is the fact that the police are investigating fresh allegations around St Nicholas church, and while they did not explicitly state what these allegations were or who they involved, the clear inference to be drawn from the articles is that they are again centred on the activities of Mr Kanavas.

Mr Panagiotis (aka Prokopios) Kanavas

Mr Panagiotis (aka Prokopios) Kanavas masquerading as an Orthodox priest (source: news.com.au).

Even more interesting is the fact according to the Adelaide Now article, the allegations apparently came from people within the community of St Nicholas itself – indicating that there is dissent within the ranks. It seems that even the members of GOCSA are becoming concerned about this man’s unethical behaviour – concerned enough to report matters to police (and rightly so). The articles state that the police investigations are only in their initial stages, so we assume that there will be more information to surface in the coming weeks and months.

We pray that the community of St Nicholas and of the wider GOCSA community will respond to their own community’s concerns and remove this man from the position of responsibility for which he is clearly unsuitable. In doing so, they will pave the way to approach the Archdiocese to supply them with properly ordained Orthodox priests as a replacement (as they have already done for the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW), and thereby at long last return them to the Orthodox fold so that we may be united once more.