His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos passed away today, succumbing to his illness today after years of battling with cancer. For days now, his health had taken a turn for the worse, however a number of clergy members received text messages informing them of the religious figure’s passing.
In Melbourne, the death was announced by Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Terens Quick at a Greek Independence Day function at the Greek Consulate, that was also attended by Greek Deputy George Varemenos. A minute of silence was held for the church official that founded many Greek churches, aged hopes and schools in Australia.
Born in Rethymnon, Crete, he studied at the Theological School of Halki before being ordained to the Diaconate in late 1957. He completed postgraduate studies in Systematic Theology and Philosophy of Religion in Bonn, W. Germany (1958-1966). Upon his return from Germany, he was appointed Abbot of the historic Patriarchal Monastery of Vlatades, Thessaloniki, which he had been requested by the Holy Synod of Constantinople to help establish together with other scholars of the local Theological Faculty. He was unanimously elected by the Holy Synod of Constantinople as the Titular Metropolitan of Mitoupolis and Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for Mount Athos in 1970 before being unanimously elected Archbishop of Australia five years later.
He arrived in Sydney in April 1975, and was published widely in Systematic Theology and Ecclesiology in international theological journals, and has represented the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Assemblies of the World Council of Churches and in bilateral Dialogues. From 1975 he had also taught Orthodox theology and spirituality at the University of Sydney. He was unanimously elected in 1980 by all representatives of Orthodox Churches as their Chairman in the official Theological Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, while his Co-Chair, Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, was appointed by the Vatican. After serving faithfully for more than two decades in this highly responsible and difficult position, he tendered his third and final resignation (15th April 2003) – having attempted this twice before without acceptance – when he published an extensive Report, titled “The Misfortune of the Official Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics” ([in Greek] Epistimoniki Epetirida of the Theological School, Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki, vol. 13, 2003).
Archbishop Stylianos is also the Dean and FOunder of Saint Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College, where he lectured Systematic Theology.
As a poet, he has 37 collections of poetry and has made outstanding contribution to European culture.