Weeks of speculation regarding the leadership of the Greek Orthodox church of Australia came to an end on 9 May when Bishop Makarios of Christoupolis was unanimously voted in as the country’s new Archbishop.
But that was just the beginning of a period of introspection, and when His Eminence Makarios arrives at Kingsford Smith International Airport in Sydney at 6pm on Tuesday, 18 June, he will have much to ponder until his official enthronement at the Archdiocese Cathedral of the Annunciation of Theotokos in Redfern at 11am on Saturday, 29 June.
He is being called to continue the work of the late Archbishop Stylianos, whom he speaks of with regard, telling Neos Kosmos that his predecessor’s work in all its scope has yet to be fully fathomed. “What I keep in my memory is that he was a genuine person, without second-guessing himself in what he did, and always taking account the interest of the Church, his fellow man, rather than his own,” Archbishop Makarios said.
He shared his thoughts regarding his new role, explaining that he feels “very blessed, because I am invited to work with a people who are honourable, multi-talented, hardworking, who know how to hold high the vision of Greekness, keeping the traditions of our land, a people who respect our Church and prove their love towards it.”
He understands, however, that his task ahead will be a laborious one. “Each local church has special characteristics and its own needs, which require different management, just as is the case with individual people,” he said, pledging he would try his hardest to prove worthy of the task entrusted to him by God’s providence and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Regarding the idea of separating the church body into three districts, he said that he would “talk with church and secular bodies, with parishioners, and examine all aspects, based on church-centric and not subjective criteria” before briefing Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew so that a decision can be made. “Rest assured that the best decision will be made for the local church of Australia,” he said.
Another issue that will need to be addressed are the breakaway community churches. “Clerics and people make up the body of the Church, with Jesus at the head. This is something we should not forget! As you understand, the roles, despite being discreet, need collaboration so that we can have the best possible result. My goal is to move towards specific actions to best use lay people, studying the needs of parishes and capitalising on the talent of the faithful.”
Asked to give advice to the clergy under his jurisdiction, he draws an analogy, pointing to clerics as “doctors of the soul”, who need to choose the right “medicine” for their “patients”. He encourages them to show “love” when guiding the faithful.
- Adapted by Mary Sinanidis.