Hello all, while we are still getting to know Yiannis Conidaris allow us to introduce you to Mr Nikolaos Fourtounis.

Mr Nikolaos Fourtounis was “ordained” by a Greek Old Calandarist (GOC) faction in September 2013 for their church in Melbourne called St. Gregorios. Today according to the “important announcement” below he is with Prokopios. Why? Well that is not important to us; suffice to say that these types of people have a way of attracting each other. Generally speaking they are as untrustworthy to our faithful as they are of each other and look to schism to satisfy their insatiable greed and disguise their passions. There is no ending in sight for them since truth and the existence of God have been effortlessly blocked from their world view. As long as they get what they want they will always be around; take this away from them and they are gone like a flash. To question, challenge and resist them means that you are no longer one of their victims. Only in this way can all GOCSA constituents and all the Orthodox faithful be liberated from their sway and corruption.

croydon-fb-fourtounis

Now to Prokopios’ contradictory announcement. According to Prokopios, Nikolaos’ ordination by Bishop Photios of GOC is valid but the church that he was assigned to by GOC is a “schismatic non canonical church”. Do you mean to say Mr Kanavas that anyone who serves in your “churches” is canonical whereas everything that they did before took place in a “schismatic non canonical church”? Or are you saying that you are part of the GOC synod in Greece and therefore recognize each others ordinations? But how can this be? GOCSA never have and never will have anything to do with the schismatic Greek Old Calandarists. GOCSA and GOC are two mutually independent schismatic groups that are cut off from the world wide communion of the Orthodox Church. The simple truth is that if someone officiates in a non-canonical church (like Nikolaos did in Melbourne) this is because (1) their ordination is non-canonical or (2) they left a canonical church and joined a non-canonical church. Mr Kanavas has had the rare occurrence of being in both predicaments.

We ask Mr Prokopios Kanavas to cease insulting the intelligence of the Greek Orthodox faithful in Adelaide, especially the poor GOCSA faithful who are exposed to his convoluted lies.

Saint Athanasios

Recently on January the 17th it was the feast day of St. Anthony and on January the 18th the feast day of St Athanasios. We noticed that Prokopios and all of the GOCSA churches held under Prokopios’ captivity honored the memories of St Anthony and St. Athanasios with a church service. It is timely then that we remind Prokopios what St. Athanasius said about schism and heresy in his book on the life of St. Anthony.

In things having to do with belief, he [Saint Anthony] was truly wonderful and orthodox. Perceiving their wickedness and apostasy from the outset, he never held communion with the Meletian schismatics. And neither toward the Manicheans nor toward any other heretics did he profess friendship, except to the extent of urging change to right belief, for he held and taught that friendship and association with them led to injury and destruction of the soul.  So in the same way he abhorred the heresy of the Arians, and he ordered everyone neither to go near them nor to share their erroneous beliefs. Once when some of the Ariomaniacs came to him, sounding them out and learning that they were impious, he chased them from the mountain, saying that their doctrines were worse than serpents poison. (Source: Athanasius – The life of Antony and the Letter to Marcellinus, Paulist Press, 1980, p81-82)

In the Orthodox Church we honor our saints by imitating them. ΤΙΜΗ ΑΓΙΟΥ, ΜΙΜΗΣΗ ΑΓΙΟΥ.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Who the heck are Meletios and Volodymyr?

Meletios and Voldymyr are two so-called bishops of the so-called “Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of American and Canada – Former Exarchate of the Patriarchate of Alexandria“. Meletios is one of the “bishops” who physically came to Adelaide to partake in the “ordination” of Mr Kanavas. Volodymyr is one of the names that appears on Mr Kanavas’ pseudo-defrockment notice for Petros Haros which we discussed in more detail here (it appears Volodymyr’s since had a change of heart).

Let’s go to Meletios:

In August of 2013, Mr Kanavas continued with his perversion of Orthodox Christianity and was so called “ordained” as a “bishop”. At his ordination was a gentleman by the name of Meletios the so called “Metropolitan of Achaia and all of the Peloponnese” who came especially from Greece to take part in this Modern Greek tragedy.

In the letter below we hear Meletios request from the president of GOCSA Mr John Lesses that Mr Prokopios Kanavas stop his “lies, threats, reviles” and “pseudo-defrockments” against Petros Haros and Meletios. It is Petros Haros and Meletios who ordained Prokopios. How is it though, that within three months Prokopios divorces himself from them? Truly a case of corruption begetting corruption.

MeletiosLet’s move on to Volodymyr who is a bit more interesting.

Volodymyr claims that Prokopios was the secretary of Petros Haros’ synod in April 2013 a fact unbeknown to GOCSA and to Haros himself! In any case Prokopios took advantage of the fact that Volodymyr does not speak Greek but only conversational English and that Haros does not speak Ukrainian or English. Prokopios played the role of the interlocutor which meant that according to the language deficiencies of Haros and Volodymyr, he could orchestrate a dialogue that was vested in his own interests and ultimately not coherent with reality. The end result:

  1. Prokopios is seen as a hero because he inducts Volodymyr into what Volodymr believes is a canonical Orthodox Church.
  2. Haros sets up a franchise in the Ukraine all through the efforts of Prokopios.

1.      Volodymyr realizes (for the time being) that he was set up by Mr Prokopios Kanavas and details this in the letter written below (see the original in Ukrainian here). Of course Volodymyr is yet to wake up and accept that he is receiving the just deserts of his own uncanonical actions. To his credit Volodymyr admits the following:

  1. Mr Prokopios Kanavas is uncanonical and that he deceived Volodymyr into thinking that Prokopios was canonical.
  2.  Volodymyr did not sign any letter defrocking Petros Haros.
  3. Volodymyr apologies to the only canonical bishop in Adelaide, His Grace Bishop Nikandros of Dorylaeon and asks for his forgiveness.

The Letter from Volodomyr:

14th December, 2013

God bless all of us, dear bishops, fathers, brothers in Christ Jesus!

I, bishop of Pereyaslav and Bohuslav, Volodymyr (Vilde) from Ukraine am writing to you. I had a phone conversation with Father Silouan, also I have received letters from Bishop Nikandros from Australia about the conflict between the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople and the so called Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of America and Canada. I understand your concern; please forgive me I could not give the necessary answer to you for a long time. In Ukraine at the moment there is a very tense social and political situation and, unfortunately, I could not give my attention to your letters. Please forgive me once more.

I have read all the materials, which Father Silouan from Adelaide kindly sent to me. I am not indifferent about the current situation affecting the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia. I do not wish to participate in any divisions and misunderstandings because of Prokopios’ acts. I wish for the Greek Orthodox Church of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to be undivided and united. The thing is that when I was asked to be included into Petro Haros’ Synod, I thought that his synod called the “Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of America and Canada” (former exarchate of Alexandria’s Patriarchate) which was led by Archbishop Dionysus Makrogambrakis was indeed canonical.  But Father Silouan explained to me, that Petros Haros’ documents of canonicity were fraudulently obtained. Consequently, Peter Haros and Prokopios do not belong to the canonical church (Patriarchate of Alexandria) of which they proclaim. 

Also, from the documents that Father Silouan sent to me I found out that Prokopios was defrocked from the Jerusalem Patriarchate as a deacon, and that Petros Haros was involved in suspicious and so called non-traditional healing practices. In any case their structure is not canonical and is not recognised by any of the World’s Orthodox churches. Also I discovered that Petros Haros and Procopios Kanavas were involved in several other scandals and caused division amongst the Greek Orthodox Communities of South Australia.

I would like to mention that I do not wish to belong any further to the structure which are led by Petros Haros and Prokopios Kanavas. For the last 2 months I did not sign their letters and petitions.

Also I want to mention that I recognise the authority of the Constantinople Patriarchate and respect their decisions. I do not wish to have conflict with the Ecumenical Patriarchate or to have any misunderstandings with your bishops. I greatly appreciate that Bishop Nikandros of Australia addressed me multiple times with archpastoral love and care, highlighting my mistake. I owe many thanks to Bishop Nikandros and pray for his health and wellbeing.

Keeping in mind everything written above, I repent of my own mistakes and officially declare my exit from the Synod of Haros and Kanavas and beg you to help me to be united with the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

I wish to belong to the great Church of Constantinople and wish to hear the conditions on which I can be accepted as an active bishop of the Ecumenical Patriachate. I am inspired and filled with hope by the fact that the Estonian Metropolitinate and the Ukrainian Autocephalic Church in America where included into the Ecumenical Patriarchia. I humbly beg for the same mercy to be granted to me and am ready to listen to your conditions.

I kneel before the Ecumenical order of the Constantinopolitan Church.

I hope for your mercy and understanding. I ask for your holy prayers for myself.

Volodymyr (Wilde) – The Bishop of Pereyaslav and Bohuslav.

Where to from here:

Prayer, patience and perseverance are needed by all devout Orthodox Christians. May this be expressed through our personal prayer life, our reading of the Holy Scriptures and our sincere worship in Church. If we all did this there would be no schism.

A final thought:

If schismatics like Meletios and Volodymyr denounce the schism in Adelaide how much more so should we the faithful of the canonical Greek Orthodox Church in Adelaide.

GOCSA's latest recruit - John Konidaris.

GOCSA’s latest recruit – Yiannis Conidaris.

Dear Readers,

We once again bring to your attention the name of another imposter masquerading as an Orthodox priest. His name is Yiannis Conidaris and just like all the other GOCSA employees wearing similar attire, he too is on the payroll to literally deceive our faithful into thinking that he is a legitimate Orthodox priest. Sadly Mr Conidaris conceals the fact that he was deposed by the Church of Greece, specifically through the “Secondary Synodical Court of the Church of Greece for Priests, Deacons and Monks” (decision number: 33/2011).

Some questions to ponder:

  1. Why is it that GOCSA regard the canonical decisions of the Orthodox Church with such contempt?
  2. Why is it that GOCSA act in ways that implicate them as being unaccountable to their constituents (most of whom have received a canonical baptism prior to 1960) and consequently to God?
  3. To date since 2010 approximately 6-10 clergy of similar ilk to Mr Conidaris have been put on the GOCSA payroll but have since been sacked or have resigned. Why such an unnaturally high turnover?

Some possible answers:

  1. The Orthodox Church has no ethical standing in GOCSA’s decision making. Truly if they could GOCSA would rather remove themselves from having any association with the Orthodox Church rather than pretend they are part of the Orthodox Church. Of course to do so would mean that GOCSA’s true identity of not being affiliated with the world wide communion of the Orthodox Church will be revealed. (A fact that they expediently conceal from their innocent and vulnerable constituents).
  2. GOCSA get away with what they do because their constituents (including voters) are not informed about the injustices/lies committed against them. More precisely it has not sunk in as yet that GOCSA are uncanonical. Fortunately things are slowly turning around. Still there is much work needed to be done, especially by the GOCSA members. For example GOCSA members have every right to question the GOCSA admin about their non-canonical status as an Orthodox Church and to demand answers as to why they are being told otherwise.
  3. While GOCSA are in schism and outside of the communion of the Orthodox Church they will always have a high turnover of clergy. Unfortunately all they have to do is look up the lists of deposed clergy from across the Orthodox world for new recruits. In the past new recruits have come from as far as Canada. However now that GOCSA are open to receiving deposed Greek Old Calanderist clergy (mostly gentleman who have been defrocked more than once, like Mr Prokopios Kanavas who has notched up his third defrockment) there is an overabundance of stock.

Our heartfelt prayer is for GOCSA to be grafted into the communion of the Orthodox Church. To do so is simply a matter of having canonically valid Orthodox clergymen. It is the current calibre of clergymen in GOCSA that are a hindrance to any form of reconciliation taking place. Together with the GOCSA admin who condone them they personify all that is against unity for the Greek Orthodox faithful in Adelaide. May the Lord hear our prayer and unite us all by His Grace and through His Church.

Dear readers,

A discussion happened in the comments of our earlier post last week about the Greek Government’s recognition of the so-called “Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Australia and Oceania (HOMOAO)”. We have also discussed similar issues with respect to GOCSA. But to what extent does this really matter? If an organisation manages to obtain recognition by the Greek or Australian governments, does that make them canonical? We thought to address this point in more detail in a fresh post.

Civil vs Mystical Marriage

Wedding crowns – used in the Mystery of Marriage but not required for a civil marriage

In this day and age when the institution of marriage is under attack, it is important for us to make a distinction between two different types of marriage: civil vs ecclesiastical.

  • A civil marriage is one that is registered with the civil authorities (eg, by the Greek or Australian governments) for the purposes of the law of the land.
  • An mystical marriage (also called ecclesiastical) is a marriage that is conducted as a Mystery (aka, Sacrament) within a recognised Orthodox Church & recognised as such for the purposes of the laws (ie, the canons) of the Orthodox Church.

A civil marriage may be conducted & registered by any authorised marriage celebrant. A mystical marriage, on the other hand, is always conducted by a canonical Orthodox priest in accordance with the canons of the Orthodox church.

From the Church’s point of view, it is obviously the mystical marriage that “counts”.

What is a recognised religion/denomination?

In both Greece and Australia, there are “recognised religions” whose ministers are also authorised marriage celebrants. This simply means that their religious marriages are automatically accepted as civil marriages and that their ministers are authorised to fill out the necessary paperwork to register the civil marriage with the government (we spoke more of this in the earlier post about GOCSA) .

In both Greece and Australia, there are many such recognised religions – non-Orthodox & non-Christian. These included schismatic groups who have also been recognised.

Special recognition of the Orthodox Church of Greece by the Greek Government

Australia has no “state religion” and all religions are treated equally by the law. However, in Greece the Orthodox Church has special recognition in the Constitution as the official state religion, which sets it apart from all other religions in Greece. This special recognition makes the clergy of the Church of Greece public servants (on the public payroll), and also means that Greek government recognises (and, where necessary, enforces) the Canon Law & canonical decisions of the Orthodox Church.

It is also important to understand this distinction between the special recognition of the Church of Greece by the Greek government, and the more general recognition that the Greek government gives to many religions. This is because many schismatic Old Calendarist groups have obtained general recognition by the Greek government (alongside other non-Orthodox & non-Christian religious groups) and use this recognition to make it seem that they are equally legitimate Orthodox churches alongside the Church of Greece. However, such recognition merely puts them on an equal footing with other minority religions in Greece (such as Muslims, Roman Catholics, Buddhists, etc). It does not make them a legitimate Orthodox church nor give them special recognition. Only the Church of Greece (with Archbishop Ieronymos II as its primate) has such special recognition.

 

Sample civil marriage certificate for the Government of Australia (source: Federal Attorney-General’s web site). The certificate for the religious marriage (if any) will depend on which denomination one is married in and will be issued separately to this one.

What are the benefits of having a Church be a “recognised denomination”?

The only real benefits are ones of convenience:

  • It is more convenient for the Government, because they don’t have to find & employ as many of their own marriage celebrants to perform duplicate wedding ceremonies – the denominations do it for them.
  • It is more convenient for the faithful who are getting married, because they don’t have to attend & pay for duplicate wedding ceremonies or two celebrants (one for the Government, one for the Church). Instead, the priest/minister acts as celebrant for both his denomination & for the Government, issuing two separate wedding certificates (one for each).

While these are obviously very practical conveniences for the couple getting married (and are encouraged by the Orthodox Church), they hardly constitute the essence of a mystical marriage according to Orthodox theology and they certainly aren’t what makes the Church canonical!

In fact, in many parts of the world and at various times in history, the Orthodox faithful are forced to live without these conveniences because the canonical Church and/or its marriages aren’t recognised by the government. For example, the Orthodox Church was not recognised by the Roman Empire (and in fact was outlawed!) in the early centuries, and so Christians who were married mystically in the Church would have to register their civil marriage separately. And in fact, not every mystical marriage would  be recognised by the civil authorities – eg, marriages between slaves, which the Church permitted (because there is “neither slave nor free” – Galatians 3:28) but the Roman Empire did not.

So why is it important for a Church to be a “recognised denomination” by the Government?

Ultimately, as Orthodox Christians, it isn’t important if our Church is recognised by the Government (or at least, it is of secondary importance) – as noted above, this is merely a convenience and it doesn’t define the essence or nature of the Orthodox Church or the Orthodox Mystery of Marriage. As if the Orthodox Church (which we believe was founded by God Himself in the flesh) requires the approval of secular authorities for its legitimacy! As we noted, Orthodox Christians have been marrying & given marriage in many parts of the world and at many times in history the Church was not/is not recognised – or worse still, is/was outlawed.

Rather, for the Orthodox faithful, of primary importance is whether our marriages are recognised by the Orthodox Church

This is why all of GOCSA’s and HOMOAO’s claims about recognition by the Greek and/or Australian governments are really red herrings – a smokescreen distracting from the real issue that should concern every faithful Orthodox Christian: are these institutions’ marriages (and other mysteries/sacraments) recognised by the Orthodox Church?

So are GOCSA/HOMOAO & their mysteries recognised by the Orthodox Church? Are they canonical?

It will come as no surprise to our regular readers that the answer to this question is a resounding NO!

  • They are not recognised by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia.
  • They are not recognised by any of the other Orthodox jurisdictions in Australia (Serbian Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Antiochian Orthodox, Romanian Orthodox, etc).
  • They are not recognised by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
  • They are not recognised by the Church of Greece.
  • They are not recognised by the Patriarchate of Alexandria.
  • They are not recognised by the Patriarchate of Jerusalem.
  • They are not recognised by the Patriarchate of Antioch, the Patriarchate Russia, the Patriarchate of Romania, the Patriarchate of Serbia, or any of the Orthodox Churches throughout the world.

Regardless of whether or not they manage to secure Greek some form of government recognition (as it appears HOMOAO has at least), it will not change the answer to any of these questions. The only way for them to secure recognition of their marriages & other mysteries/sacraments by the Orthodox Church is for them to become part of the Orthodox Church. And the only way for them to do this is to unite with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia.

GOCNSW eventually saw the light & rejoined in 2010, and have not looked back since (they’ve even managed to keep their churches!). Let’s pray that GOCSA and HOMOAO see the light soon too so that this confusion can be eliminated once and for all.

St Basil the Great of Caesaria, the Heaven-revealer

Icon for 1st of January. Top: St Basil the Great of Caesaria, the Heaven-revealer. Bottom: The circumcision of Christ. Source: OCA

Dear readers,

Of course, yesterday was the civil New Year. It also happens to be a major feast day of the Orthodox Church, in which we commemorate the Circumcision of our Lord Jesus Christ, along with the great hierarch and ecumenical teacher St Basil the Great. We pray that everyone had a blessed time with family as we remember the occasion that the God of all submitted to the shame & pain of circumcision in the flesh, and shed blood for humanity for the very first time.

On the feast day of St Basil, we thought it would be appropriate to remind our readers of an earlier post back in 2011 where we briefly discussed St Basil’s teachings on schism. His comments are as relevant today as they were 1,600 years ago.

More posts to follow in the coming days – there is obviously a lot happening at the moment.

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.

The Nativity of Christ. Source: Orthodox Church in America

Your birth, Christ our God,
dawned upon the world as the light of the knowledge.
for then those who worshiped the stars were taught by a star
to reverence you, the Sun of righteousness,
and to know you are the dawn from on high.
Lord, glory to you!

Christ is born! Glorify Him! As we celebrate the Feast of the Nativity (According to the Flesh) of our Lord, God and Saviour Jesus Christ, let us remember that when He took on flesh, He only assumed one Body. So must the Church also be one. Let us pray that that day will come soon to our city.

We pray that all of our readers have had a blessed and safe time this Christmas.