Members of the Greek Orthodox Community of Sydney and New South Wales rejected the proposal by the Federation of the Greek Orthodox Communities of Australia to join the Afxentian faction of the True Orthodox Christians (παλαιοημερολογίτες) of Greece.

At an Extraordinary General Meeting held two Sundays ago 83 percent of the members rejected the proposal and mandated the Committee of Management to renegotiate the return of the Community to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, the canonical spiritual authority of Australia.

Community president Harry Danalis told Neos Kosmos the “resolution of the sweeping majority is the expression of their strong desire for unity”.

Mr Danalis said “the membership longs for an end to the ecclesiastical division that has afflicted the Greek Community of Australia in past decades”.

“Our members believe that no effort should be spared in our attempt to re-establish a working relationship with the canonical spiritual authority, namely the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia” he said.

Asked, whether the Committee of Management are prepared to engage in new dialogue with the Archdiocese, Mr Danalis responded with an “yes”.

“The General Meeting has given us a strong mandate and we intend to use all avenues opened to us in order to return to the auspice of the Archdiocese” he added.

The president of the Federation of Greek Communities, Theo Maras, likened the refusal of the Greek Community of Sydney to join the ΓΟΧ as “testament to the democratic function of the Federation”.

Mr Maras dared the prophecy, that “by next spring or winter things may be different” suggesting that circumstances beyond their control may force members of the Greek Community of Sydney to reconsider last Sunday’s decision.

True Orthodox Christians are known by the acronym ΓΟΧ (Γνήσιοι Ορθόδοξοι Χριστιανοί). The “Afxentian” faction is one of the multitude of factions that operate within the fragmented True Orthodox Christians Church of Greece. Following lengthy negotiations with the Federation of the Greek Orthodox Communities of Australia last November the faction established the Holly Metropolis of Australia and Oceania in Adelaide led by Bishop Iakovos.

The Metropolis operates in parallel with the new calendar adherent Autocephalic Greek Orthodox Church of Australia, despite the refusal of the Hellenic State, of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and of other ecclesiastical jurisdictions to recognise it as a legitimate ecclesiastical authority.

This co-existence has forced the Hellenic State to review a court determination that orders the state to recognise and register sacraments (weddings and baptisms) conducted by clerics serving in the Metropolis of ΓΟΧ of Australia and Oceania, provided these clerics are properly ordained.

Neos Kosmos understands that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic has referred the matter to the Legal Council of State for opinion, before formalising its instructions to the Greek diplomatic delegations to Australia to either recognise and register sacraments conducted by ΓΟΧ clerics or discard them as void.