Christodoulos

John, aka Efstratios, aka Christodoulos Vasilaris

Dear readers,

Given that Christodoulos has come back to town, it is timely to revisit him. In particular, there is a letter he wrote to His Grace Bishop Nikandros in March 2011 which reveals a lot about his character.

Background of the letter

Christodoulos (aka John/Efstratios Vasilaris) was (for a brief time) the bishop of GOCSA (the so-called Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of Australia and America), and assistant bishop to “Archbishop” Auxentios’ Old-Calendarist schismatic group in Greece (the so-called “Genuine Orthodox Christians-GOC”) . He arrived in Adelaide at the beginning of March 2011 after their former “bishop” (Iakovos Giannakis) split with their “Archbishop” (Auxentios of GOC) and went back to Greece to start his own synod. (See Neos Kosmos for more info about Christodoulos’ history.)

When Christodoulos arrived, His Grace Bishop Nikandros (acting in accordance with his duty as the canonical hierarch of the Orthodox Church in South Australia) invited him to appear before him. Christodoulos responded with a strongly-worded letter dated 17th of March 2011 (included below in both its original Greek and an English translation).

Content of the letter

You can read the full content of the letter here in Greek, as well as a translation here in English. Of all the points and comments that he makes in this letter, the one that got the biggest response was the following comment:

The church you [Bishop Nikandros] belong to is the sinful daughter of a sinful mother…

The “sinful daughter” that he was referring to was the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, and her “sinful mother” was the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Obviously, this was a great insult to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and to her daughter Church, the Archdiocese of Australia.

As for the rest of the letter, here is a summary Christodoulos’ points:

Each of these claims is either misleading, hypocritical, outright wrong, or sometimes all three! But rather than bloat this post by addressing them all now, we will defer that discussion to separate posts at a later date. (Edit: links have been added to those posts now that they have been written.) 

Fallout from the letter

Prior to entering into schism, Christodoulos had been a canonical priest-monk. As a result of his actions for entering into schism and for the insult to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its canonical Australian branch contained in this letter, he was (unsurprisingly) deposed from the priesthood and returned to the status of a simple monk by the Church of Greece in May 2011.

But surprisingly (and amusingly), Christodoulos’ own synod (the so-called Genuine Orthodox Christians-GOC  headed by Auxentios) also took offense at the insult to the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and they too decided to depose him from the GOC “bishopric” they had assigned to him! Details about all this can be read in this Neos Kosmos article dated 1st of June 2011.

Of course, Christodoulos and GOCSA simply ignored both of these depositions and consequently split from Auxentios’ synod, going their own way and once again becoming an orphaned pseudo-Orthodox jurisdiction. As a result, all of GOCSA’s clergy (including Mr Kanavas, who was a “priest” with GOCSA at the time) were deposed. (Thus it was with a sense of deja-vu that we saw the same pattern followed again when Mr Kanavas was deposed (for the third time) back in November last year, which Mr Kanavas & GOCSA have again ignored.)

Later in 2011 Christodoulos was sacked by GOCSA, for reasons that have not been made clear publically. The Greek Communities of Clayton (headed by Mr George Athanasiadis) and Wollongong (Mr Savvas Pizanias) both refused to acknowledge his sacking. Instead they split from GOCSA to form the so-called “Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Australia and Oceania” (HOMOAO), retaining Christodoulos as their head. GOCSA remained in the so-called “Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of Australia and America” (of which they now comprise the clear bulk). Thus begun  a fresh schism within the schismatic community.

As an old Orthodox saying goes, “schism begets schism”. Sadly the above is typical of the kind of soap opera that naturally unfolds when people try to break the unity of the Church and go off their own way.

Conclusion

Christodoulos’ excuses for leaving the canonical Church and for establishing his own rival jurisdiction are wafer-thin. He preys on the uninformed, well-intentioned Orthodox faithful whom he tries to impress & bamboozle using vague references to important-sounding, “churchy” things like “Sacred Canons” and ecclesiastical order to justify his actions, knowing that most of these people are not well-informed enough about these things to know how he has misused them. We hope (with the help of God) to rectify that situation in our future posts by explaining exactly how and why Christodoulos is wrong, with proper references to actual canons. And as always, we hope that by providing such references, people will be able to verify what we say for themselves, rather than simply being expected to take our word for it.

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