A hugely popular Greek Orthodox priest in Australia has been defrocked by the Ecumenical Patriarchate for a “series of ecclesiastical and canonical offenses.”
Father Eleftherios Tatsis, commonly known as Father Lefteris, announced his resignation from the Archdiocese of Australia (GOAA) following a spat with Archbishop Makarios in October 2022. He was serving at Panagia Kamariani on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula.
The holy Monastery of Panagia Kamariani hosts the icon of Panagia Kamariani, which was discovered in the city of Halicarnassus, now Turkey’s Bodrum.
On Thursday GOAA officially announced the decision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople to defrock Papa Lefteris.
The announcement of the GOAA states among other things:
“The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, [imposed] the penalty of removal from the rank of the priesthood on the former cleric Mr Eleftherios Tatsis for a series of ecclesiastical and canonical offenses.”
Greek Orthodox priest in Australia “returns to the rank of the laity”
“Therefore, the appointed cleric, by decision of the Orthodox Church, returned to the rank of the laity and has lost the privilege of wearing the priestly garb, as well as the right to perform the Holy Mysteries and the Divine Liturgy,” it read.
“The aforementioned development occurred as a result of the long-standing irregular behavior of Mr Eleftherios Tatsis, who, with successive delinquent actions and aggressive public positions, attacked the Orthodox Church, His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, the Archbishop, the Bishops and the brothers of the clergy, even going so far as to create a ‘church’ of his own, officially and voluntarily cutting himself off from the canonical and sole Orthodox Church.”
The announcement continues: “Following this, out Holy Archdiocese is obliged to remind its pious and philanthropic flock that all the Holy Mysteries and every act of service (Holy Liturgies, Holy Masses, Weddings, Baptisms, Funerals etc.) that may be performed irregularly by Mr Tatsis are invalid and to be considered not born of the canonical Orthodox Church.”
“That is to say, nothing more of what Mr Tatsis does will be recognized by the Orthodox Patriarchates, the Archdiocese, the Metropolises, the Monasteries of Mount Athos and the other Monasteries of the Orthodox Church,” it states.
“Also, on the basis of the Holy Canons, those who take part in Mysteries and other acts performed by Mr Tatsis cut themselves off from the canonical body of the Church, that is, they excommunicate themselves and therefore cannot be accepted either for the Mystery of Holy Communion, nor for the other Mysteries, nor certainly for the other Masses, such as the funeral, from the regular parishes and churches of the Archdiocese.”
Father Lefteris has not yet responded to the accusations leveled against him. However, in 2022 he referred to a lack of leadership in the church and extended a warning to Archbishop Makarios that he intended to remain vocal.