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Archbishop Makarios sues blogger for defamation

Archbishop Makarios Grinezakis claims a blogger falsely accused him of embezzling millions from the church to fund a lavish apartment in Sydney Harbor and a luxurious lifestyle while covering up abuse and selling bribes.

The leader of the Australian Orthodox Church has often appeared on Greek News Flash blog written by Alkis Morelas.

The Archbishop’s lawyer, Sue Chrysanthou SC, told the court on Monday that Mr Morelas had no evidence to support claims that the Archbishop had ‘channeled’ hundreds of thousands of fundraisers into his own pockets.

Mr Chrysanthou said Morelas’ blog also appears to acknowledge that $707,208 was distributed between the Bega Valley Shire Council, Victorian and South Australian firefighters and Port Macquarie Koala Hospital.

According to the blog, an additional $250,000 remains in an account because the Archbishop delayed the transfer.

“It’s hard to see how there can be dishonesty when the money is just sitting there, just waiting to be distributed,” Ms Chrysanthou told the court.

Morelas’ lawyer, Tim Sowden, told the court on Monday that the articles actually asked, “can you trust the archbishop” to distribute the funds correctly because the bushfire funds have not not been sent to the Greek community, as originally promised.

The blog also targets a $6.5 million Millers Point apartment purchased for the Archbishop as his official Sydney residence in late 2019, the court heard.

“They are not representatives of God but representatives of Satan, devilish men hiding their filth under their cassocks,” Mr. Morelas wrote in a translated article included in the court documents.

A blog report makes salacious accusations against Greek church figures, including “burning ice, ecstasy and coca instead of incense in our churches”, and suggests that those responsible for the church have links with “sex shops” and then speak of “particular monks”. as well as liaisons with married parishioners.

Ms Chrysanthou said ‘shocking allegations’ were being made against people who cannot defend themselves because they are not involved in the trial.

In the same articles, Bishop Makarios alleges that Mr. Morelas falsely accused him of accepting a $1 million bribe to promote someone within the church and further falsely accused him. accused of bribing the Greek media for good press.

The latest translated article, in court documents, says His Eminence used “mafia-style methods” to cover up a pedophile in the parish.

Among the allegations, court documents say the archbishop improperly spent church money on lavish trips to Europe, extravagant cassock robes and a Holden Caprice driver in Sydney.

Ms Chrysanthou said the car, dresses and trips to Europe would all be legit.

“It is a strange allegation that (the Archbishop) bought bespoke cassocks with extravagant trimmings… I can step in with 42 years of experience and say that is what they wear. It is the tradition of the church.

Mrs. Chrysanthou will say the car, the dresses and the trips to Europe were all legit.

The claims are all denied by the Archbishop who said his ‘spotless reputation’ would be tarnished by Mr Morelas’ smear campaign.

His Eminence this year launched libel proceedings in the Federal Court in Sydney for four articles by Mr Morelas since August 2021.