Official Orthodox Statements

Just a quick post for now, but more to come hopefully later today.

As you may have heard, Mr Kanavas has been elected “bishop” by the GOCSA committee and there is an “ordination” planned for this Sunday on the 11th of August.

For now, we would just like to point out that Mr Kanavas has claimed (on the St Nicholas Facebook page) that his election to the position of “bishop of Adelaide” was by “the Holy and Sacred Synod of Greece”. Just who this Synod of Greece is he does not say. Why does he not name the bishops of the Synod who allegedly elected him? He probably didn’t want to announce their names so that people wouldn’t be alerted to the fact that they’re not from the real Holy and Sacred Synod of Greece!

For all those members of GOCSA out there who are suspicious of the actions taken by their committee in their name & on their behalf, you might like to familiarise yourselves with exactly who & what the official Holy and Sacred Synod of Greece is. Again, we don’t ask you to take our word for it – you can look at the official website of the Synod of Greece, and in particular their page on the hierarchy of the Synod (which lists all of their bishops). We can guarantee you that none of these bishops will be coming to Adelaide this weekend to ordain Mr Kanavas. We also didn’t find any official press releases or statements referring to this upcoming ordination.

As noted, we will have more to say on this topic later, so please stay tuned!

Patriarch Theofilos

Patriarch Theofilos of Jerusalem

Dear readers,

In previous posts we have made reference to what constitutes priesthood in the Orthodox Church. Upon this foundation it is appropriate to present an example of an uncanonical member of the clergy, namely Prokopios Kanavas of St Nicholas’ “Greek Orthodox Church” Thebarton.

Below you will find an extract from the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem highlighting Prokopios’ defrockment and his restoration as a “lay person”. In its contents mention is made of his “unacceptable behaviour as a deacon… contrary to the Holy Canons of the Church” which included amongst other things his involvement in “organizations of questionable and suspicious activities”. This led to Prokopios being “subjected to threats… forcing him to flee terrified to Greece where he discarded and gave up his priesthood”.

In response to people’s request we have attached below a scanned version of the original Greek document written and faxed by the Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Archbishop Aristarchos of Konstantini. The letter from Archbishop Aristarchos was addressed to His Grace Bishop Nikandros of Dorylaeon (the canonical Greek Orthodox bishop residing in Adelaide), and is stamped with the official seal of the Patriarchate.

In close we would like to say the following to the beloved people of GOCSA: be warned, this so-called priest is not what he seems. You have the right to know if your priest is canonically ordained, and you have the right to be served by a legitimate Orthodox priest – not to make do with the Orthodox Church’s leftovers or self appointed clerics. Demand that your community leaders do what is necessary to supply you with real priests. Do not settle for anything less.Jerusalem Patriarchate


(Extract from the letter of the GREEK ORTHODOX PATRIARCHATE OF JERUSALEM to His Grace Bishop Nikandros of Dorylaeon, on 19th June 2010)

Your Grace,

With reference to Prokopios (birth name as Panagiotis) Kanavas, who represents himself in Adelaide as an Archimandrite, we advise that he was ordained and served within our Patriarchate as a deacon. He became involved without our knowledge in organisations of questionable and suspicious activities. As such he became subjected to threats and his own life was endangered thus forcing him to flee terrified to Greece where he discarded and gave up his priesthood. Following this, the Holy and Sacred Synod of our Patriarchate during its deliberations on 24th of June 2008, after considering his unacceptable behaviour as a deacon, which behaviour was contrary to the Holy Canons of the Church as well as his position as a member of the Brotherhood of the Holy Patriarchate of Jerusalem, defrocked the above mentioned deacon (Prokopios Kanavas) restoring him back to the classification of a lay person hence severing him from the said Brotherhood of the Holy Patriarchate of Jerusalem which has since then ceased to have any relationship or be in communion with him.

Your Grace, informing you on the above for the purpose of making them known to the faithful of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia, I convey to you and to His Eminence, Archbishop Stylianos of Australia, the blessings and brotherly love of His Beatitude Theofilos, Patriarch of Jerusalem, as well as my personal ones, and I wish you, from the All-Holy and Life-accepted Tomb, every strength from above in your burdensome pastoral work.

In the Holy City of Jerusalem, 19th June 2010.

With love in Christ and great honour,
Archbishop of Konstantini Aristarchos

Chief Secretary of the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

Prokopios’ defrockment (scanned copy of original, in Greek)

His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos with His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew

His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos with His-All Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Some people avoid the issue of which churches are canonical by saying that they do not have “sufficient knowledge” or are not “qualified” to answer questions like:

Does the Ecumenical Patriarchate or the Church of Greece recognise GOCSA as part of the Orthodox church?

In reality it is quite easy to discover which organisations or churches are part of the communion of the Orthodox Church by simply reading the information that is published officially by sources like the Ecumenical Patriarchate or the Church of Greece.  Given the seriousness of the issues involved any faithful Orthodox Christian who is confused by the schism in Australia should take the time to examine the available information.

GOCSA publish that they are part of the “Autocephalic  Greek Orthodox Church of America and Australia” so we can examine if any Orthodox churches are in communion with this organisation.

The Ecumenical Patriarchate publishes on its website a list of dioceses around the world that it administers on the Administration of the Patriarchate page. In it we find the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia which clearly demonstrates that the Archdiocese is in communion with the Patriarchate.  Nowhere is the “Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of America and Australia” listed.

His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew with the Archbishop of Greece

His All-Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew with His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos (Archbishop of Athens and All Greece)

The Church of Greece publishes on its website a list of all the Patriachates and Autocephalic churches. It links to the Ecumenical Patriarchate (which as noted above links to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia).  Nowhere is the “Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of America and Australia” listed.

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America publishes a useful page listing Patriarchates, Autocephalous, and Autonomous Churches as well as Archdioceses, Metropolises, and Dioceses.  Again the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia is listed.  Nowhere is the “Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of America and Australia” listed.

Non-official sources such as the wikipedia article on the Eastern Orthodox Church list the autocephalous churches along with their exarchates (ie, overseas jurisdictions).  Again the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia is listed.  Nowhere is the “Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of America and Australia” mentioned, not even in the list of churches with canonical anomalies or excommunicated bishops.

Here is a summary table listing all of these sources:

Source Greek Orthodox Archiocese of Australia recognised? “Autocephalic” Greek “Orthodox” Church of America and Australia recognised?
Ecumenical Patriarchate Yes No
Church of Greece Yes (through the Ecumenical Patriarchate) No
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Yes No
Wikipedia Yes No

What sort of rational conclusion can be drawn after examining this information?

  • The “Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of America and Australia” and hence GOCSA churches are not in communion or recognised by any jurisdiction of the Orthodox church.
  • It is a self granted title intended to impress people who do not have sufficient knowledge of the ecclesiastical organisation of the Orthodox Church.
  • “Churches” under the “Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of America and Australia” are not part of the Orthodox Church. They are not autocephalous, they are not Orthodox, and they are not even American!

Dear all,

When we started our blog, we said that it was our stated goal was to bear witness to the truth about the schism here in Adelaide. While we stand by everything that we have said so far, some have criticised this for being completely negative and not offering a positive solution to the problem. While we have made some references to the fact that positive solutions exist on our Facebook page, until now we have not blogged about it nor have we explained the positive solution in detail. This post aims to change that – to emphasise the fact that we do not only want to be negative, but that we also are genuine when we say that we want unity. So here goes.

As we have mentioned on our Facebook page, the Archdiocese has plenty of experience in healing schism for any schismatic community that is willing. There have been several examples of schism being healed in Hobart, Melbourne in Sydney. The examples provide us with a template that can be used as the basis for unity here in Adelaide too.

Specifically, we’re going to look at the Memorandum of understanding between the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and the Greek Orthodox Community of NSW, which was signed by both parties in the offices of the Archdiocese in May 25th of this year (2011). The text was published in the Archdiocese’s bilingual newpaper the Vema in the June edition; unfortunately it does not appear to be available online yet which is why we have included the scanned copy of it linked to it above.

Important highlights from this memorandum:

1. Community’s assets to remain undisturbed

Save as provided for in this Memorandum of Understanding, it has been expressly agreed by the Archdiocese that the administrative and financial independence of the Community will be preserved at all times and that the real estate owned by the Community referred to in this Memorandum of Understanding, and all the Community’s other assets, both moveable and immoveable, shall remain within its [ie the Community’s] sole ownership, custody and control.

In plain English: GOCNSW will retain ownership of everything that it currently owns.

6. Regularisation of sacraments (weddings & baptisms) by Archdiocese

It is agreed that, subject to the amendments referred to in clause 1 coming into effect, the Archdiocese shall, as soon as practicable thereafter, make a formal announcement through its traditional channels to the effect that it offers to recognise any invalid sacraments (weddings and baptisms) conducted by uncanonical priests under the auspices of the Community prior to this Memorandum of Understanding coming into effect. To this end, the Archdiocese’s announcement shall, among other things, invite those seeking to regularise any uncanonical sacraments to contact the Archdiocese for that regularisation to occur by way of formal chrismation and the issue in each case of an Archdiocesan certificate without fee.

In plain English: any sacraments that need to be performed will have their certificates issued for free! (Incidentally, this is already the case in South Australia for any GOCSA-baptised person who wishes to join the Archdiocese.)

So there you have it. When GOCNSW rejoined the Archdiocese, they did not have to pay for their sacraments to be regularised, and they get to keep ownership of the property & bank accounts. So financially, the Archdiocese does not stand to gain much from this union at all.

This just goes to reinforce what we’ve been trying to highlight all along: the Archdiocese does not want your property, and it does not want your money. It wants one thing and one thing only: your souls. It wants to bring them back into the safety of the Orthodox Church, to be ministered by real priests and served real Mysteries (Sacraments) and nourished with the real Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. If this is what you want too, then spread the word! Link to this blog, send people to the Facebook page. Let’s squash these damaging and false rumours once and for all, and hopefully there’ll be nothing left to get in the way of unity!

The schism of the Greek Orthodox church in Adelaide is often characterised by supporters of GOCSA’s position as petty political squabbling within the Greek community.  This is not the view of any of the bishops of the Orthodox church in Australia as the communique below demonstrates.

First Episcopal Assembly of all Canonical Orthodox Bishops of Oceania


Bishops at First Episcopal Assembly of Oceania

Bishops at First Episcopal Assembly of Oceania

The members of the First Episcopal Assembly of all canonical Orthodox Bishops of Oceania welcomed the opportunity to meet in Sydney from 16-18 October, 2010 under the chairmanship ex officio of His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos of Australia.

The Assembly commenced with a Divine Liturgy manifesting our essential eucharistic unity at the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Theotokos, Redfern, Sydney.

In accordance with the decisions of the pre-conciliar Pan-Orthodox Conference convened in Chambesy, Switzerland from 6-13 June, 2009, the canonical Orthodox Bishops met in a brotherly spirit, and after lengthy and edifying discussion centered on issues of mutual concern, such as pastoral care, catechesis, liturgical life, reaffirmed the unity of all canonical Orthodox Churches.

Consequently, we strongly condemn all of those who attempt to destroy the precious unity of our Church through adherence to new or existing schismatic groups and sect in our region.

In order to safeguard and contribute to the unity of the Orthodox Church of Oceania, the members of the Assembly unanimously agreed upon the formation of the following three Committees relating to:

Bishops Serving at First Episcopal Assembly of Oceania

Bishops Serving at First Episcopal Assembly of Oceania

1)    Campus Ministry: cultivating the Orthodox faith amongst our University students and shielding them from the effects of proselytism, co-chaired by Their Graces Bishop Irinej of the Serbian Church and Bishop Ezekiel of the Greek Archdiocese.

2)    Inter-Orthodox Liturgical Services: embracing common Pan-Orthodox services and adopting a unified approach to pastoral and liturgical issues, co-chaired by Their Graces Bishop Mihail of the Romanian Church and Bishop Seraphim of the Greek Archdiocese.

3)    Canonical Issues: compiling a list of all canonical bishops and other clergy of Oceania and a secondary list of schismatic groups and sects which attempt to promote themselves as being canonical Orthodox.  This Committee is chaired by His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos and consists of representatives from each Orthodox Church.

The Assembly looks forward to meeting in years to come to continue working for the good of Orthodoxy in our region.

Sydney, 18th October 2010

Signed by:

  • His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos (Ecumenical Patriarchate – Australia)
  • His Eminence Metropolitan Paul (Antiochian Patriarchate)
  • His Grace Bishop Agapit (Russian Church)
  • His Grace Bishop Irinej (Serbian Church)
  • His Grace Bishop Mihail (Romanian Church)
  • His Eminence Metropolitan Amphilochios (Ecumenical Patriarchate – New Zealand)
  • His Grace Bishop Ezekiel (Assistant Bishop)
  • His Grace Bishop Seraphim (Assistant Bishop)
  • His Grace Bishop Nikandros (Assistant Bishop)

(Published in October 2010 Vema)