The Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia (GOCSA) has announced that it will host a “historic meet and greet” with its members and Archbishop Makarios of Australia on November 12, despite the meeting being in potential breach of their Constitution and condition of membership to the Community.
The November 12 meet and greet comes after the GOCSA Executive Council held a “preliminary meeting” with Archbishop Makarios in June this year, where “both parties expressed a desire to re-engage in open dialogue in the hope of finding a solution to the schism that has divided the state’s Greek community for over 60 years.”
After the preliminary meeting, the GOCSA issued a press release which said Archbishop Makarios “agreed that unity is the common goal between the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia and the GOCSA.”
GOCSA Constitution and Condition of Membership:
The Greek Herald reported at the time that some members of the Community had launched a petition to raise concerns that the Executive Council breached the Community’s Constitution and Membership Application Declaration.
According to GOCSA Constitution Article 2A, the Community “neither in its government nor in its administration shall… be subject to any ecclesiastical, political, or other body or authority.”
Constitution Article 4A similarly states that the Membership Committee must always bear in mind “the absolute autonomy of the Community and its not being bound to any ecclesiastical authority thus undermining its independence.”
Article 28 of the Constitution confirms that these clauses cannot be amended “unless all financial members of the Community decide otherwise.”
When becoming a member of GOCSA, applicants also sign a Membership Application Declaration and pledge to “adhere by and support Rule 2A and 4A of the registered rules” to uphold the religious independence of the Community.
Failure to abide by the membership pledge will “nullify” (invalidate) a member’s application or subsequent membership.
‘Comfortable in our position’:
Knowing this, the GOCSA Executive Council are forging ahead with their latest meet and greet with Archbishop Makarios. In a press release, President of the GOCSA, Peter Gardiakos, said the “historic event” will provide members “a chance to engage in dialogue themselves.”
“We have helped shape South Australia’s multicultural character, we have a story to tell, and thus we must lead this dialogue to identify ways to future-proof the GOCSA and to strengthen the broader Greek community whilst retaining our values, proud history, and heritage,” Mr Gardiakos added.
When questioned by The Greek Herald about why the GOCSA Executive Council continues to organise meetings with Archbishop Makarios despite the Constitutional concerns, Mr Gardiakos reiterated that the meet and greet “is simply an opportunity for our members to meet His Eminence and speak with him directly.”
“I wish to state that the Executive Committee does not continue to liaise with and organise meetings with Archbishop Makarios,” Mr Gardiakos added.
“We enjoyed an introductory lunch with the Archbishop as reported in June, and we have not met with him since. Since that lunch, our correspondence with the Archbishop and his office has been limited to inviting him to speak with our members at the event on Sunday 12 November 2023.
“In regard to the alleged breach of the Constitution, we have thoroughly considered our decision and we are comfortable in our position.”