The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia has placed Father Leslie Kostoglou from St Gerasimos Greek Orthodox Church in Leichhardt, Sydney on “ecclesiastical suspension,” according to a statement released on Wednesday.
In the statement, the Archdiocese said the ecclesiastical suspension will be reviewed once Father Leslie “returns to the treasury of the Parish of St Gerasimos in Sydney, the money he has embezzled or there is a relevant settlement with the Board of Directors of the Parish.”
This allegation of misappropriating funds comes as The Greek Herald first reported last week that the Parish committee were considering a proposal to move Father Leslie to St Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church at St Marys.
Parishioners at St Gerasimos launched a petition at the time, calling on the committee “to reconsider” their proposal to move Father Leslie.
The petition said that whilst parishioners “understand that the committee may have valid reasons for wanting to move Father Leslie to St Marys,” their proposal would be “detrimental” to the Leichhardt community and parish.
“Father Leslie is not just a priest, but a friend, mentor, and spiritual leader to us. His departure would leave a void that would be difficult to fill,” the petition said.
The Archdiocese’s latest announcement on Facebook received multiple comments from angered Greek community members. They were voicing their disappointment at the suspension of Father Leslie, and said it was inappropriate to make public allegations of embezzlement prior to a proper investigation.
The Archdiocese has since limited who can comment on the post.
This latest suspension comes as the Archdiocese also suspended Father Eleftherios Tatsis (Papa Lefteris) from Red Hill, Victoria in October 2022. Papa Lefteris has since been defrocked by decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate due to “a series of ecclesiastical and canonical offenses he committed.”
*The Greek Herald has reached out to Father Leslie for comment.