Bishop Makarios of Christoupolis was unanimously voted in as the new Archbishop of Australia on 9 May, putting an end to weeks of speculation about the church leadership since the death of Archbishop Stylianos.
The choice was welcomed by church circles, as it is believed that Bishop Makarios will drive the church forward. His extensive studies in bioethics and understanding of the modern era and its implications for Orthodoxy are promising.
Like his predecessor, he comes from the island of Crete. Born in 1973 in Herakleion, he studied at the Higher Ecclesiastical School of Athens and the Theological School of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. Postgraduate studies, however, have taken him around the world, including Melbourne, where he acquired a Master of Bioethics at Monash University.
He also has a Master of Sacred Theology from the University of Boston and a Master of Arts in History and Science from Harvard. His doctoral dissertation received a grade of ‘Excellent’ from the Medical School of the University of Crete. It’s subject was ‘Cloning: Social, Ethical and Theological Components’.
He has an interest in science and theology, and founded and currently runs the publishing series, “All About Bioethics”, under the auspices of the Church of Constantinople.
Since 2003 he has been teaching at the Higher Ecclesiastical Academy of Heraklion. He has occasionally taught courses at various universities, including Greek colleges, medical schools and at of the Universities of Crete, Thessaly and Athens.
In May 2015 he was elected First Dean of the Theological Seminar of the Autonomous Church of Estonia.
The Holy Synod favoured him from a shortlist of three candidates. The other two were Elpidios Karalis and Kyrillos Zisis. Neos Kosmos sources told us that the new Archbishop was a reluctant participant for the role, “following all he had heard about the church of Australia”.
Now that the election has taken place, there are still many open issues that need to be addressed. For instance, what will be the new organisation of the Greek Orthodox Church of Australia? It is believed that the body will be restructured and divided into Metropolitan districts in June, however the number and size of these districts are still unknown. Neos Kosmos sources have pointed to everything from three to five different areas.
The situation is still in a state of fluctuation, however it seems certain that Bishop Nikandros of Dorylaiou will be the Bishop of South Australia, and may also be responsible for the areas of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Other sources state that Western Australia and the Northern Territory will have their own representative. In such a case, Bishop Iakovos of Militoupoleos will take over and be based in Perth.
READ MORE: Those who came before Archbishop Stylianos
It is still unknown whether the state of Victoria will be contained in one district or be split up, however Tasmania will also be included in the district of Victoria. The Ecumenical Patriarchate is currently pondering as to whether Ezekiel of Dervi will be appointed the head of the church in Victoria and Tasmania, or whether one or two younger representatives will be appointed.
Some church circles maintain that Kyrillos Zisis, a candidate for the role of Archbishop, may be elevated to the role of metropolitan bishop. As archimandrite, he was in charge of the office of the late Archbishop Stylianos and was highly regarded for the way in which he carried out his duties. He is also a trained pharmacist, and knows Melbourne well. He is highly regarded in church circles.
It is still unknown what will be done with Seraphim of Apollonias. Sources state that the Patriarchate could take him away from Australia while others point to him becoming the metropolitan bishop of Queensland.
Conversations are continuing in Istanbul with church representatives from Australia. These are: Nikos Papas (Papanastasiou) from NSW, Andreas Georgiou from Melbourne, Theo Bakalakis from Queensland, Charis Patsouris from Adelaide and Stan Palasis from Western Australia.
Duties of the next Australian Archbishop
Orthodox theologian Dr Vasilis Adrahtas on what needs to be done by the new Archbishop:
* Promote the wide range of services provided by the Church (aged and health care facilities, bilingual education)
* Face the challenges of the second and third-generation Australian born Greek Orthodox
* Transform the migrant mentality of Church circles into a genuine witnessing of a universal Orthodoxy.
* Work towards Orthodox believers consolidating in practice the universality of their faith beyond national and ethnic attachments.
At some point in the near future there must be one multi-ethnic and multi-lingual Orthodox Church in Australia through the lead of St Andrew’s Theological College.