Australian broadcaster ABC reported that after thorough investigation, it found that the taxpayer-funded aged care homes of “St Basil’s” had returned to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia about $22 million in the last eight years – out of the total $73 million they received from the Federal Government – at a time when some of these institutions were posting operating losses.
The ABC’s detailed report highlights that Melbourne’s “St Basil’s” – where 45 residents died in Australia’s deadliest COVID outbreak – is alleged to have paid the Archdiocese $22 million over the past 8 years.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation published a statement by Jason Ward, an expert in aged care, from the Centre for International Corporate Tax Accountability and Research, who conducted an investigation on behalf of ABC into the finances of “St Basil’s.” Mr Ward argues that Melbourne’s “St Basil’s” was paying the Archdiocese double the rental market rate.
The ABC report further highlighted how the Greek Orthodox Church pays to make a “good and comfortable life,” for Archbishop of Australia Makarios and stands in particular to the $6.5 million apartment bought late last year at Millers Point, Sydney, where Archbishop Makarios now lives, as revealed by the ABC. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation also reports that the apartment in question, was renovated after the purchase at a cost of about $3 million.
The ABC’s report also published complaints of residents of the Melbourne aged care home who died in the deadliest Covid-19 outbreak and who argue that there was no proper protection for the residents. A coroner’s investigation into the deaths is carried out, while some relatives have filed a lawsuit against the institution.
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia released a statement on Sunday afternoon following the ABC report:
It is with considerable sadness that the Holy Archdiocese of Australia has been made aware of an ‘investigation’ by the ABC, the supposed ‘conclusions’ of which were broadcast recently in a biased and unfair manner regarding both the Archdiocese and His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia.
The broadcast in question (‘Background Briefing’), which carries the sensationalist and provocative title ’The Archbishop, the luxury residence and the nursing home which was ravaged by the coronavirus’, seeks to connect the tragic circumstances that prevailed at St Basil’s Aged Care in Melbourne during the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic with the financial affairs of the Archdiocese.
According to the broadcast, the outbreak of the pandemic in Melbourne’s St Basil’s Aged Care is somehow linked to the finances of the Archdiocese and, thereby, to the Archbishop himself. In publishing such comments, the ABC defames the Archbishop by suggesting that the Archdiocese has been the recipient of substantial sums from St Basil’s in Melbourne (over a period of 8 years, a period before His Eminence Archbishop Makarios’ arrival to Australia), and by inferring that these same monies have funded the allegedly luxurious lifestyle of the Archbishop.
Such allegations are utterly false. In citing the Archbishop’s personal affairs, the ABC has resorted to the most tenuous of evidence, none of which justifies the conclusions it seeks to draw; for example, the motor vehicle used by Him (a motor vehicle over 7 years old, which the Archbishop inherited from His predecessor), the vestments He wears when carrying out His ceremonial duties (vestments worn by all bishops of the Orthodox Church across the world, none which have costed Him $30 000.00) and the apartment in which He resides, which is an asset of the Archdiocese.
It is difficult to understand why the ABC chose to ignore reliable information provided to them; for example, that the purchase of the apartment in Sydney was not made with funds drawn from St Basil’s Aged Care (or any other agency of the Archdiocese), but with special funds of the Archdiocese, and that its modest renovation was made possible by a private donation, and certainly did not cost anywhere near $3 million, as alleged.
The Archdiocese calls upon the ABC to present all the evidence it relies upon that suggests that the Archbishop has profited personally from St Basil’s Aged Care in Melbourne, as the broadcast claims, or that even one dollar of public funding has been misapplied.The Archdiocese stresses again that much of the information in the ABC’s broadcast has its source in a few aggrieved, but unnamed, individuals. These persons have been actively lobbying the media in Greece and Australia for some time to publish material critical of the Archdiocese, its Institutions, the Archbishop, the Bishops, and other Church officials, disseminating in the process various malicious untruths.
It is unfortunate that the ABC did not check the veracity of the information these ‘sources’ provided.
Archbishop Makarios, the Clergy and the people of the Archdiocese will not be distracted by such false and damaging allegations but will continue to work for the good of the Church, the faithful and the broader Australian nation. Truly, an apology to the Archbishop, and the faithful of the Holy Archdiocese is called for from the ABC.