Leader’s lavish $6.5m harbour apartment
It's an unlikely home for a man of God who has taken a vow of poverty, His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia.
But a luxury Sydney apartment, with stunning views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Opera House, a concierge and a heated indoor pool, is the new residence of the leader of the Greek Orthodox Church of Australia.
For months, the purchase remained shrouded in mystery, despite whispers in the Greek Orthodox community, with the vendors originally declining to reveal the sale price.
But the actual cost has sparked an unholy row within the tight-knit Greek Orthodox community and new revelations of the role of a Liberal senator in securing Australian residency for Archbishop Makarios, who had turned up for his new job on a tourist visa.
Claims that the late Archbishop approved of the property purchase have been hotly denied by the nephew of Archbishop Stylianos, lawyer Nikolaos Kalliouras, in the Greek newspaper Neos Kosmos.
"It goes without saying that Archbishop Stylianos, judging from his personal path in life, would never use an apartment that was similar to the one purchased by the Consolidated Trust of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia nine months after his death, as his personal residence, the luxury of which he could not even imagine,'' he said.
"The decision for the purchase of the disputed luxurious apartment is said to have been taken in March 2019, namely at a time when ...Archbishop Stylianos was counting the last days of his life; however it concerned another, cheaper, smaller and non-luxurious apartment."
Property records confirm the 3-bedroom apartment was purchased for $6.5 million by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia Consolidated Trust shortly before Christmas.
The stamp duty alone cost nearly $400,000, the cost of an actual apartment in some states of Australia.
The strata fees for the apartment, which features a concierge, are an eye-watering $5600 a quarter, or over $20,000-a-year.
The Greek Orthodox Church of Australia purchased the apartment for the new Archbishop on December 20, 2019, after his predecessor spent years living an ascetic life in a small room at the Church's Redfern headquarters.
Designed by renowned architect Ercole Palazzetti, the Archbishop's apartment takes out the entire floor "bathed in natural sunlight" according to the real estate agent who sold the property and capturing a "dual aspect, breathtaking and iconic views of Sydney Opera House, Harbour Bridge, Barangaroo, Darling Harbour and the City Skyline."
Featuring a gourmet kitchen with granite benchtops and Gaggenau appliances, a lavish master suite, extensive built-in wardrobes and luxurious bathroom, it also include two further double bedrooms, separate marble bathroom, laundry room, a heated indoor pool and fully equipped gymnasium and parking for two cars
The Honorary Secretary & Trustee of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia Consolidated Trust, Nicholas G Pappas AM, told news.com.au that the apartment was purchased by the Trust as an official residence for the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Australia.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs chairman said the Trust had not received any formal complaints regarding its acquisition.
"The Trust, not the Archbishop, retains ownership of the property, as it does with other real estate assets of the Church. The Archbishop does not own any real estate or other assets,'' he said.
"The Trust will not be making any further comment about the matter."
The Trust is a charity, ensuring that the Greek Greek Orthodox Church secures GST concessions, fringe benefit tax rebates and income tax exemptions.
Archbishop Makarios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, arrived in the country last year, following the death of the late Archbishop Stylianos Harkianakis, on a tourist visa.
It was a chance meeting with Liberal Senator Andrew Bragg that saw him strike up a friendship with the former Liberal Party director and same sex marriage campaigner.
At Archbishop Makarios' request, Senator Bragg then wrote to a senior cabinet minister in the Morrison Government seeking assistance to resolve his visa dramas.
Those interventions were successful, with the Greek Orthodox leader securing permanent Australian residency.
For his troubles, Senator Andrew Bragg was surprised to discover he was the first non-Greek and non-Orthodox person to receive the highest honour that the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia can bestow.
Senator Bragg was proclaimed a Grand Commander by Archbishop Makarios and a member of the Order of Christ-loving receiving 24 carat gold medals, at a special service at the Cathedral of Annunciation at Redfern in Sydney on 20 January.
The medals, including the Order of Christ-loving award, were fully declared by Senator Bragg to Parliament.
During the award ceremony, Archbishop Makarios praised Senator Bragg for finding "solutions."
"From the first moment that I met you, I felt that you are a person who very easily wins the hearts of people,'' he said.
"You have the ability or, rather I should say, the gift to create a new inner world for people. You not only listen to people's problems, but you also give light, you try to give them joy, you aim to find solutions, you attempt to do whatever is best for the person."
But the award for the same sex marriage enraged some devout Greek orthodox priest, with Father Peter Heers complaining: "How can an Orthodox Bishop award one of the most prominent leaders of the movement to recognize same-sex 'marriages' with the 'Order of the Christ-loving'?
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Originally published as Leader's lavish $6.5m harbour apartment