Scandals


His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece – the real Archbishop of Athens. Beware of impostors. Source: Church of Greece

Dear readers,

It seems that Christodoulos, Mr Athanasiadis and their friends of the so-called “Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Australia & Oceania” have been busy over the Christmas break. Perhaps motivated by jealousy of the attention that GOCSA’s scandals have been attracting, not to be outdone they have decided to have a go at their own.

According to their news page (see 20/12/2013), they are undertaking an expansion of their presence here in Australia, having increased the number of member parishes in the “Holy Metropolis” by a whopping 50% in this Christmas period! This sounds impressive… until one realises it means they’ve increased their number of parishes from two to three!

Their newly established parish is a “monastery” here in Adelaide (of no fixed address as yet) dedicated to St John the Forerunner & Baptist. It seems they are planning to celebrate their inaugural feast day on the Synaxis of  the Forerunner (7th of January) 2014 at a local venue.

By setting up yet another competing “Orthodox” jurisdiction for Adelaide’s Orthodox of Greek descent (in direct competition with both the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and GOCSA), they are further cementing the schism that began back in the beginning of 2012. Perhaps there is a bit of spite going on here over the way Christodoulos was unceremoniously dumped by GOCSA (for reasons that still remain a mystery to us). It seems that Christodoulos and friends still haven’t learned the point of the simple message that we posted at Christmas (one Christ – one Church) – or perhaps they think that the Holy Virgin gave birth to the Word of God as triplets on that blessed day?

Of course, the so-called “Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Australia and Oceania” is neither Holy, nor Orthodox, nor a Metropolis, nor is it of Oceania (in fact, with only three parishes and in only three States it barely even qualifies as “of Australia”). Their head (“Archbishop” Seraphim) claims to be the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece while living on the tiny island of Salamina – when (as we pointed out a couple of months ago) the real Archbishop of Athens is His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos and he actually lives in Athens. Seraphim was of course deposed by the Church of Greece (in 1984), as reported by Neos Kosmos, and so any “services” celebrated under him are no more legitimate or canonical than those of GOCSA (which is to say, neither of them are legitimate or canonical Orthodox jurisdictions). We advise all of our readers to stay well clear on the 7th of January (and indeed every day).

Such is Christodoulos’ Christmas gift to the Greeks of Adelaide – an amusing little sideshow. Or rather, it would be amusing if it weren’t so serious & so sad.

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Dear readers,

We have come into possession of a complaint letter written by Mr Periklis (aka Petros) Haros in which he outlines the complaints against Mr Kanavas that led firstly to his suspension & then his deposition. While there is no date on the letter, the content implies that it was written after the suspension but before the deposition (because he mentions the former as a past event, but not the latter). At any rate, the letter seems to have been signed by Mr Haros (signature matches the last one we received) and includes his phone number, which means that it is almost certainly legit (if anyone is skeptical they can call the phone number and ask).

The letter was addressed to Mr Nigel Hunt of the Advertiser/Sunday Mail newspaper, who has been covering the unfolding scandal over the last few years, though to the best of our knowledge Mr Hunt has not as yet published this material.

What’s news & what’s not

Much of what is included in this letter is not news to us, nor will it be news to our regular readers, as we have reported on it before (in particular in this post). This includes the facts that:

  • Mr Kanavas lied about his tertiary qualifications, his age and his ordination status.
  • Mr Haros foolishly accepted Mr Kanavas at his word on all of the above without doing due diligence.
  • Mr Kanavas responded to Haros’ requests for proof of the above with threats of legal action.

None of this is news. However, what we learn from this letter which was previously unknown is:

  • Mr Haros seems to admit to his foolishness. In hindsight he is supportive of those members of GOCSA & the Greek community who protested against Mr Kanavas’ ordination, and actually seems to be a bit apologetic at what he has done.
  • Mr Haros claims that he was put under “immense pressure” to ordain Mr Kanavas.
  • Mr Haros is also highly critical of Mr John Lesses (current President of the GOCSA executive) for his role in the above – claiming that Mr Lesses also (along with Mr Kanavas) pressured him into ordaining Mr Kanavas before receiving official confirmation believing that Mr Kanavas had the necessary qualifications.

This last point is an important observation – it suggests that Mr Kanavas was not acting alone, but that his deceptive actions had the support of highest level of the GOCSA executive – namely, the President Mr John Lesses. We plan to return to this observation at a later date as the subject of another post.

You can read the complaint letter here.

It seems our “venerable Metropolitan” Mr Kanvas has been busy searching the internet for preparing his first encyclical for the Feast of the Nativity in 2013:

You can find it posted it on You Tube here.

In all fairness, we must admit that this is a beautiful Christmas message. However, we much prefer the unedited original, by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America in 2010. The full text of this encyclical is included below, with the boldface indicating those portions that Mr Kanavas has plagiarised:

On this glorious Feast of the Nativity of Christ we celebrate a truly wondrous event in which God, in His infinite and marvelous grace, became man bringing us enduring permanent hope, newness of life, and eternal salvation.  The holy birth in Bethlehem of our Savior occurred at a specific time, but His Incarnation and its significance for our redemption are timeless. The Son of God, the Lord of Glory and King of kings who upholds the universe by His word of power, became man so that we human beings might be redeemed, renewed, united with Him, and become fellow citizens with the Saints and members of God’s household. 

The magnitude and the depth of the event of the Nativity of Christ are impossible to grasp, but yet its message is clear and true.  It is a message of grace, hope, and salvation to all humanity and all of the created order.  It is a message which we both celebrate and share on this sacred day, an invitation to “come and see” what our loving Creator and God has done for us.

On the night of the Nativity, the angels appeared in the glory of God and announced the birth of Christ to the shepherds.  In response they said, “Let us go…and see this thing that has happened.”  Accepting the invitation to participate in this glorious event, they came and saw the newborn Christ, and becoming amazed by what God had done for our salvation, went away glorifying and praising Him for all that they had seen and heard (Luke 2:8-20).

Following the Nativity, wise men in the East saw a mysterious star and following it came seeking the King who was born in Judea.  Upon learning of the place of the birth of the Lord, they came and saw the Christ child, offered Him gifts, and worshipped Him.  Responding to the invitation presented to them in the sign of the star, they came and encountered the One who would be a great ruler of His people as foretold by the prophets (Matthew 2:1-12).

As the shepherds and wise men received the invitation to “come and see” the superb miracle of the Incarnation of God, so too we are invited on this great feast to come and encounter Christ, and to see the great and marvelous work He has done for us and our salvation.  On this day we come and see the brilliant light of truth and life shining through the darkness and despair of our world.  We hear a message of hope and grace that causes us to cease all other thoughts and activities and direct our hearts and minds to the One who has come to bring us peace and assurance.  We come to Christ and see justice, holiness, and love and realize the necessity of these for true and abundant life.

We are also called to share our joy in Christ and to offer this invitation to everyone.  We are the bearers of the good news of what God has done for us in defeating sin and death.  We are the messengers shouting to the world as did the angels, “Glory to God in the highest!”  We are, as the star of the East did to the Magi, to lead all who are searching to come and see Christ, to come and see the One who brings life and hope, peace and joy into every heart that receives Him.  We are the people who are called to gather all God’s people to His home, to an encounter with our Lord Jesus Christ.

On this blessed Christmas Feast of joy and love, I offer to you and your families my wishes for a beautiful day of worship and fellowship filled with peace and the presence of God.  May we offer together our gratitude to our Lord for what He has done for us through His glorious Incarnation.  May we also offer an invitation to all to come and see the glory of the Lord. 

Once again, Mr Kanavas is guilty of shamelessly plagiarising someone else’s work without attribution. We wonder if it is a coincidence that he left out the paragraphs where His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios spoke of “truth”…

On the other hand, we do sincerely wish all our readers (both those who love us and those who hate us) God’s blessings in accordance with these inspiring words of His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios. May the “brilliant light of truth and life” shine through the “darkness and despair” of the schism here in Adelaide. May the “message of hope and grace” also give us hope that the schism will soon be ended, that the people of GOCSA will be returned to the Church, that they may partake of the “true and abundant life” that can only come from being united with His Church. Let us pray that it won’t be long before we are all celebrating the Feast of the Nativity together in the Orthodox Church.

We have some breaking news – it looks like an official deposition of Prokopios by Haros’ synod may have been issued recently. We’ll post here once we have more information…

Prokopios' "suspension" notice of Haros

Prokopios’ “suspension” notice of Haros

And the saga continues… and Mr Kanavas’ response is worthy of all the accolades that a kindergarten playground might bestow.

As many of you have probably seen, Mr Kanavas’ has his response to our previous post up on various Facebook pages around the place, including Adelaide Greek Orthodox Youth (see right).

Apparently we have it all backwards. Haros didn’t suspend Prokopios – Prokopios and a couple of his friends suspended Haros! And in fact, they did this in a letter sent to Haros a couple of weeks ago!

So should we believe this letter? A letter that has:

Compare this with the suspension notice that we produced, which was signed, dated and appeared on official letterhead… there are so many things wrong with Prokopios’ letter it is difficult to know where to start, but let’s try:

  • Prokopios has exclusive control of Haros’ web site. He can put whoever he wants there and pretend that they are part of the synod. (This is quite obvious when you look at the photos page and see that 1/3 of the photos feature Mr Kanavas – this fits with his egomaniacal personality.)
  • No signatures. Who knows if Evangelos, Alexandros and Volodmyr actually support Prokopios’ action, or for that matter (given the previous point) if they are part of Haros’ synod, or in fact if they even exist?
  • There are only four “bishops” named – not enough for a majority. Supposing for a moment that they do actually support the letter & actually are on Haros’ synod, then there’s still not enough support to make their action count. According to the web site, there are eight bishops in the synod (not counting the deceased patriarch and deceased former “archbishop” Dionysios) – the four names given don’t constitute a majority of votes. Wouldn’t common sense dictate that they need at least a majority of votes to support an action as serious as suspending the president of the synod?
  • Why do we only hear about Prokopios’ suspension of Haros now? The suspension allegedly took place two weeks prior to Prokopios posting the notice on Facebook. Did Mr Kanavas really suspend his own “archbishop” and switch to another synod without thinking to tell any of his flock (ie, GOCSA) for two weeks??? This would be severe dereliction of his duty as a bishop! More likely, the reason that we didn’t hear about it until 2nd of November is because Prokopios only thought of it after he was suspended by Haros (31st of October), and so Prokopios tried to back-date it as a smokescreen.
  • The agreement was between the synod and GOCSA. It was not a personal agreement between Haros and Prokopios. What then gives Prokopios the right to act unilaterally on behalf of GOCSA to break this agreement and leave the synod, apparently without the permission or approval of the GOCSA constituency or of its executive committee?
  • How will GOCSA’s now claim to be canonical? Joining Haros’ synod was supposed to make GOCSA canonical (so GOCSA claimed, even though this claim was wrong), and now they are not even a part of that synod. What is their cover story now to claim to be canonical? What new sophistry will they come up with to try and claim that their sacraments are recognised in Greece and the rest of the Orthodox world?
Prokopios with His Beatitude Patriarch Theolphilos III of Jerusalem

Picture of Prokopios as a deacon before he was deposed, with Patriarch Theophilos III (the current Patriarch, whose  synod deposed Prokopios from the diaconate). Source:  Haros’ Prokopios’ web site photos page

The sad thing is, even if this letter was legitimate, it still doesn’t look good for Prokopios – after all, if Haros was so hopelessly and obviously corrupt that Prokopios had to suspend him after less than three months, then how did he not notice this three months ago, prior to his ordination? The only possible conclusions are that Mr Kanavas either:

  • is a complete fool for being taken in by Haros in the first place,
  • didn’t do his due diligence when checking up on Haros,
  • knew about Haros’ corruption but turned a blind eye to it so that he could get “ordained”, or
  • possibly all of the above.

None of these conclusions looks particularly good for Prokopios (nor for the GOCSA executive, who supported his move to join with Haros).

Prokopios’ misconduct

While we’re on the topic, we have some more information about some of the reasons that Haros alluded to as to why Prokopios was suspended. Haros wanted proof of Mr Kanavas’ age, ordination and tertiary education before he would ordain him. 

Of course, those who have been reading this blog since the beginning will know why this was a fatal and foolish mistake by Haros – Prokopios still hasn’t sent him the relevant documentation and in fact never intended to send it to him, because he either doesn’t have it or it would incriminate him.

  • With respect to his age, Mr Kanavas is reported in a Feb 2012 Advertiser article as being 25 years of age. That would mean he is probably 27 now. Thus he doesn’t meet the minimum age requirement for an Orthodox bishop (which is 30 years according to the canons). Why Haros is suddenly interested in the canons of the Church being followed is a great mystery to us…
  • With respect to his tertiary qualifications, we know he doesn’t have any even though he once claimed to on Facebook.
  • With respect to his official ordination papers, given that he was deposed from the diaconate and ordained to the priesthood by an uncanonical group (and then deposed from the priesthood by that same group), he again doesn’t have any.

Prokopios has responded to the above requests (which are entirely reasonable requests) with threats of legal action.

If Haros had known all of this before 11th of August he wouldn’t have ordained Prokopios. Of course, this just goes to show that Haros is a fool also, because he was in fact comprehensively warned of all this prior to the “ordination” but trusted in Prokopios’ promises to provide the information anyway.

Brothers and sisters, it is sad that this soap opera continues to drag the good name of the Orthodox Church through the mud. We pray that one day soon GOCSA wake up to this man and his cunning ways.

Invitation to consecration of the Holy Unmercenaries

Invitation to consecration of the Holy Unmercenaries

Brothers and sisters, we have some amazing news. Given the time-critical nature of this news we will have to eschew the normal niceties and try (unsuccessfully, it seems) to keep this brief.

As some may be aware, GOCSA are in the process of opening a chapel dedicated to the Holy Unmercenaries Kosmas and Damien at their nursing home in Ridleyton. (Under ordinary circumstances this would be a tremendous occasion and a cause for celebration, if only it were not being done by an imposter!) The Vespers for this service was held this evening, with Orthros and the Consecration itself planned for tomorrow morning followed by the Divine Liturgy.

A Church Consecration is a beautiful and rare service that many Orthodox never get to witness in their lifetime. You can read more about it on the Orthodox Wiki as well as read the service on the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America website. In short: Relics of saints are sealed inside what is to become the Holy Altar, which then undergoes its own Baptism and Chrismation, being washed and then sealed with Holy Chrism (also known as Holy Myrrh) and wiped clean by the antimension. However, unlike Chrismating a new Christian, a lot more Holy Chrism is needed for a Consecration of a Church – in fact, it requires more Holy Chrism than parishes have on hand, and certainly Prokopios as a newly-“ordained” bishop would not have such a large supply on hand. That is why normally the Chrism (and the relics also, which are likewise difficult to obtain) is obtained from the hierarch who presides over the Synod. In Australia, for example, one would need to get the Chrism from His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos, or in Greece from His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos.

Embedding the Holy Relics in the Altar

Embedding the Holy Relics in the Altar of the Church as part of its consecration. Source: www.romfea.gr

Here’s where things get interesting: knowing that he needs to explain where he got hold of the Holy Chrism & Relics necessary to perform the consecration, Prokopios is claiming that his hierarch (Petros Haros, whom we have written about) gave it to him.

There’s just one problem: Haros denies giving it to him.

In fact, Haros even denies giving him permission to perform the consecration at all, and views Prokopios’ actions as disobedience to the Holy Synod. Accordingly (and after repeated acts of misconduct since his ordination) the so-called Synod of the Former Exarchate of the Patriarchate of Alexandria (aka the Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of America and Canada) has placed him on suspension, effective today, until he travels to Greece to answer to his synod. See here for the notice from Haros suspending Prokopios Kanavas (see below for an unofficial translation into English).

For those who don’t know, being on suspension means that he is not permitted to carry out any liturgical function. It is one level short of being deposed, which means to be removed completely from the priesthood and be unable to carry out liturgical functions.

Wiping off the Chrism (Myrrh) at a Consecration using antimensia. Source: www.romfea.gr

Of course, given his track record it is rather unsurprising that Mr Kanavas would engage in such an act of open defiance and outright deception. We also think it is rather unlikely that he will bother to front up for trial at his so-called synod in Greece, as he has spent quite a bit of his life running away from such situations. If he keeps this up, he could suffer the ignominious distinction of having being deposed:

  • three times,
  • by three different synods,
  • from three different ranks of the priesthood,
  • in the space of only three years!

A translation of the suspension notice follows below (original Greek here):

In Athens, 31st of October 2013

With deep sadness we were informed by publications that Bishop Prokopios who was ordained by us will conduct the consecration service of the Greek Community’s nursing home chapel of “Saints Anargyroi”, without the knowledge, permission and blessing of the Holy Synod that the said bishop belongs to and without my personal consent as the Holy Synod’s president.

At no time were holy relics of saints and Holy Myrrh administered to him for the conducting of a consecration. For this reason we forbid him from conducting the consecration of the above mentioned temple.

Also for his disobedience, irreverence and his misconduct in general since his ordination until today, we call upon him to answer before the Holy Synod and place on him a temporary suspension in which we forbid him from performing any liturgical rites whatsoever until the ruling of the Holy Synod.

The Archbishop

Petros

(Former Exarchate of the Alexandrian Patriarchate in America and Canada)

(signed)

As reported by Nigel Hunt in today’s Advertiser (“An unorthodox legal challenge”, p10) that the GOCSA resistance group, led by prominent GOCSA members Philia Kambitsis and Con Savvas, are proceeding with attempting to obtain a Supreme Court injunction against GOCSA and Prokopios to prevent them from proceeding with this Sunday’s planned “ordination”.

It is our understanding that the hearing is underway even as we type this post.

For all those who are pro-reunion (both from GOCSA and from the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia), now would be a good time for some extra prayers.

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