Father Eleftherios, commonly known as Papa Lefteris, presided over his last service on Sunday at Panagia Kamariani on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, making known to the congregation of his resignation decision.
Hundreds of faithful from across Melbourne made their way to the Red Hill church prepared to farewell and thank the priest, as rumours of his imminent resignation had been circulating over the past week.
Many attendees did not hide their anger and disappointment with the church over the development, while others reacted in tears.
“The chalice was filled with peoples’ tears,” Charoula Adamantides who was present at the church told Neos Kosmos.
At the end of the service, which was also livestreamed, Fr Eleftherios read in both Greek and English the letter of his resignation addressed to Archbishop Makarios of Australia, in which he accuses the Archbishop of using the canon laws for his benefit.
“I don’t want to take up much of your time but would like to inform you that the canon laws you are charging me of breaking and the punishments you are putting on me are of your standards,” an excerpt of the letter reads.
According to Neos Kosmos sources, the Ecumenical Patriarchate imposed a penalty on Fr Eleftherios for acts deemed incompatible with canon laws.
Addressing the congregation following his announcement, Fr Eleftherios referenced singer Stelios Kazantzidis in a quote inviting them to continue attending church services.
He also referred to a lack of leadership in the church and extended a warning to Archbishop Makarios that he intends to remain vocal.
The Archdiocese is expected to issue an official announcement over the coming days.