Archbishop Stylianos Harkianakis, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Australia and Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, passed away on Monday aged 84.
The death was announced by Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Terens Quick at a Greek Independence Day function at the Greek Consulate in Melbourne, which was also attended by Greek Deputy George Varemenos. A minute of silence was held for the church official who founded many Greek churches, homes for the aged and schools in Australia.
Harkianakis was born in Rethymno, on the island of Crete, Greece on December 29, 1935.
He studied theology at the Theological School of Halki, on the island of Halki and graduated in 1958. He was ordained a deacon in 1957 and a priest in 1958.
He completed postgraduate studies in systematic theology and the philosophy of religion at the University of Bonn in West Germany, from 1958 to 1966. His lecturers included Cardinal (then Reverend Father) Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI.
He wrote his thesis on the concept that the Orthodox Church possessed infallibility when it acted together in conciliarity (e.g. the Ecumenical Councils). At that time, the idea of infallibility was thought to be an exclusively Roman Catholic idea, entirely alien to the Orthodox Church.
In 1965, whilst still completing his postgraduate studies, Harkianakis was appointed Professor of Theology at the University of Athens.
In 1966, he was appointed abbot of the Holy Patriarchal Monastery of Vlatodon, in Thessaloniki. He was a founding member, then became vice-president and later president, of the Patriarchal Institute of Patristic Studies within the monastery. From 1969 to 1975, he lectured in systematic theology at the University of Thessaloniki.
In 1970, Harkianakis was elected the Titular Metropolitan of Militoupolis (whilst remaining in the Holy Monastery of Vlatadon) as exarch in matters concerning Northern Greece and Mt. Athos.
In 1975, Harkianakis was elected Archbishop of Australia and Exarch of Oceania. In this role, he engaged in many dialogues between Orthodoxy and other Christian groups, most prominently as co-chairman of the theological dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church, but also as co-chairman of the dialogue with the Anglican churches.
Harkianakis taught Orthodox theology and spirituality at Sydney University since 1975. In 1986 he became the inaugural dean of St. Andrew’s Theological College, where he also served as Lecturer in Systematic Theology.
He passed away on the 25th of March, 2019 in Sydney, on the holy day of the Annunciation of the Theotokos.
In 1973, Harkianakis was awarded the Gottfried von Herder International Award. A noted poet with an extensive bibliography, he also won the Award for Poetry from the Academy of Athens in 1980.
In 1985 he received an honorary doctorate from Lublin University, Poland. One of his poems, “After Ephialtes,” was set to music by Costas Tsicaderis.