Prokopios Kanavas, former Bishop of St Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Adelaide, and Bishop of the Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia (GOCSA), has resigned. The resignation follows three attempts to quit this position that weren’t accepted by the GOCSA. Yet Friday nights resignation was final and now, Mr Kanavas is no longer serving the parishioners of St Nicholas.
Since being ordained as bishop in August 13, 2013, he says that there has been a distinct lack of communication between himself and the executive committee of GOCSA.
“I’ve tried hard to solve many issues since my ordination,” Bishop Prokopios tells Neos Kosmos.
“I was trying to build good relationships between myself and the executive committee and to have a better understanding of the ecclesiastical issues and how we can work together.”
He says he felt as though he was treated as “an employee” and not as a Christian leader of the Orthodox church.
“[GOCSA] think the priests, the bishops are employees which is against the Orthodox church standards, a bishop or a priest can not be an employee,” he says, adding that a priest comes to this role as a divine calling and not the work of man.
“All the time they tried to push me aside and make their own decisions.”
Mr Kanavas says that when he’d try to mentor a priest, and instruct them on how to serve, he would notice they would do the opposite to what he told them, and that the priests would in fact follow the instructions and advice given to them by the president of GOCSA, Mr John Lessos, or someone else from the board.
“[GOCSA] don’t understand how a church works,” he says, “they think the employee should obey the employer.”
Mr Kanavas says in his 14 years of serving the church he had never felt like “an employee” until being employed by GOCSA.
“I serve the office of church and I think I have made the right decision because as a bishop, cleric, as a Christian Orthodox we have to protect our faith and what our church says and our church says to serve the people and Jesus Christ and to follow his commandments – not an employer.”
When asked about his parishioners and how they’ve taken the news to his resignation, he says that they are all “very sad”. But he is standing by his decision so as to not bring any further scandal to the church during Holy Week.
Mr Kanavas says he may pursue another role with the church in a year, but whether that will be in Adelaide or whether it will be with the Greek Orthodox Community of SA or the Archdiocese, he says he isn’t sure.
“‘I haven’t had an offer at the moment,” he says.
Mr Kanavas was previously sacked as an SA Police chaplain. Allegations have also been raised about discrepancies over his tertiary qualifications.
Neos Kosmos contacted the Greek Community of South Australia’s president Mr John Lesses but by the time this article went was published, Mr Lesses or any members of GOCSA had not responded to the interview requests.